Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Royal Belfast – old and distinguished

[Approach to the par five 5th]

It was not easy to find Royal Belfast. Sometimes clubs seem to forget that signs are necessary to make things easier for visitors. After you pass the Ulster Folk Museum, heading from Belfast, take a left turn at the first set of traffic lights down Station Road.

[Photo: gloriously wild par three 11th – the rest of the course is far more manicured]

The clubhouse dates back to 1859, and it makes for an impressive arrival as you drive alongside the 18th. In the original part of the building (an extension has been added) you’ll find the bar with black and white photographs of ships adorning the walls. Overlooking Belfast Lough, as Royal Belfast does, it seems very fitting. Actually, the course gets right down to the water and three holes almost get wet.

If you’re wondering how old the course is, there’s a small white arrow pointing you to the 5th tee, at the back of the 4th green. It has been there so long that the tree that it is attached to has now started to grow over it. See pic below.

As I returned to the clubhouse the early morning starters were arriving. I watched one young man climb out of his car and I realised there are some things I don’t do. I don’t do pink jumpers, and I don’t do jumpers thrown over my shoulders like a cape. This fellow managed to combine the two, with some aplomb I might add. But the brown shoes were just screaming for help.

[Photo: par three 7th]

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