Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rathcore - Gerry Kelly is a bandit

[Photo: Rathcore's par four 15th]

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited onto a lunchtime radio show to do an interview about my book. It was my first radio interview so I was nervous – a bit ‘deer in the headlights’ – but Gerry Kelly, LMFM’s afternoon DJ, was very friendly and calmed me down with half a dozen valium*.

So, the interview was great fun, and Gerry raised the subject of great courses in Louth and Meath (hence ‘LM’ FM) He threw Rathcore GC at me, and I went off on one as I love the place. He said he’d been invited down by the club’s owners (the Lyons cousins) when the club first opened in 2004. He didn’t make it and he was still itching to play. So I arranged a game with him, OK’d it all with the Lyons and we played on Wednesday, in an Open event.

First things first: Gerry is a member of Baltray, so even off 18 he’s going to be reasonably handy. Then there’s the matter of his 21 year old son, who plays off +2, so there must be some sporting pedigree in there somewhere. Third, in preparation for Rathcore, he ‘warmed up’ at Portmarnock Old.

[Photo: Mick drives off the par four 5th]

Our fourball was completed by my buddy Fin, and the great Mick Lyons himself (for those not in the know, Mick was captain with Meath when they won the football All-Ireland in 1987). It was a fourball and there was no money involved – and for that, I am still grateful. Myself and Fin took on the Louth/Meath boys. It wasn’t pretty. In fairness, none of us played well, but when you play a course this good it never seems to matter. It was Fin’s first visit too, so it was intriguing to hear his and Gerry’s reactions as we played each new hole. They were both impressed. Gerry starting plotting his next trip (with eircom’s golf society) before we’d finished the front 9, and Fin laid down the biggest plaudit of all when he said “I’ll have to bring Mike here.” Mike is a friend from New York who plays links courses, almost exclusively, but I think he’ll like Rathcore too. It’s just so different to typical parkland courses.

Neither pair rushed to hand in their scorecard, but it was my first round, in three attempts, when I haven’t lost a ball so I was happy enough. Although Fin who had no balls (!) lost several of mine which he’d ‘borrowed’. And he also struggled several times during the round as his brother-in-law had ‘borrowed’ his eight iron and ‘forgotten’ to put it back. It’s amazing how often you need the club that’s missing from your bag.

So, back to bandit Gerry: I’m not suggesting he ripped the course apart – Rathcore is too challenging if it’s your first visit – but he nailed some great drives, had a handful of birdie putts and generally showed that with a bit more dedication – he’d get far lower than 18. On the 187 yard par three 16th, I hit a three iron into the wind, pin high; Gerry hit a five iron. I’m still muttering under my breath about that one.

It was another great day, it cost €20 a man, and it is the best value you’re going to find anywhere. Fin has vowed to be back – quite a promise considering he lives in the US – and I left Mick and Gerry discussing the best days/times to bring the Eircom society.

And finally, Gerry, if you read this – I still have your 15th club in my bag. Apologies – we’ll have to play again sometime soon.

* I’m joking about the valium of course but, as a complete aside, when my sister was doing her Leaving Cert 20 years ago, she was fretting so much the day before her exams that the school nurse gave her valium. Interesting choice – but my sister did really well!

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