Sunday, March 17, 2013

Druid's Glen on St. Patrick's Weekend

The practice green behind the clubhouse.
Druid’s Glen on a St. Patrick’s weekend… not quite an Irish Golf tradition, but becoming one. Two years ago, I played here with three friends on a day of brilliant sunshine. Yesterday, the same three friends lined up as the sun stepped out from behind the clouds to bathe the 1st tee in glorious light. Ideal early spring weather for a round of golf on Ireland’s most exciting parkland. What more could you want?

Well, a decent swing would have helped...

Two years ago, in a Ryder Cup style match, Charlie (16 h’cap) and I took on Ronan (9) and Finbarr (19). It was a one-side match with Charlie and I taking all the money.

Yesterday was the same, only it was Ronan and Finbarr’s turn. It seemed only fair but they didn’t have to be quite so brutal. The match was as good as over by the 6th. And by the time the sleet arrived, to turn the 7th into a blinding descent to the fairway below, Charlie and I were muttering about an early pint in the clubhouse.
Approach to the par four 4th. 

Lack of Golf
Between the four of us we have played two and a half rounds this year – of which I account for one and a half. Charlie hadn’t played in a year (since Druid’s Heath with me in February 2012), Finbarr’s back from New York and Ronan is back from a knee operation… not that that stopped some of his trademark bombs. The 10th is a 400 yard dogleg par four – Ronan cut the dogleg, putting it straight over the big oak, and left himself 50 yards from the green. As the saying goes… I don’t go that far on holiday… unless there’s a cart path the whole way there.

The bridge between the 12th and 13th holes.
Druid’s Glen looked fantastic in the sunshine… but to be honest this is not the course’s best time of year. That would be between late spring and autumn when the big trees are full of vigour and you are immersed in endless cooling shadows and leafy whisperings. The famous rhododendrons were on the cusp of bursting into colour and a reminder came on the 13th, where a lone bush on the stream’s edge was flecked with pink. Don’t get me wrong – the course always looks great because there is so much going on, and that teenage thrill of bouncing across the suspension bridge on the 9th never fades. No, there’s too much here to enjoy to worry about what’s in leaf or bloom.

It can be tough playing golf when it’s only a few degrees above freezing – and the sleet was certainly demoralising – but Druid’s Glen delivers enough thrills to warm the heart. The par threes alone (as highlighted by the guys on the Inside The Ropes day out last year) are worth the visit and several of the par fours challenge the mind as much as the swing. I have yet to par the 1st hole after a dozen visits and, on the famous, or should that be ‘notorious’, 461 yard par four 13th, you could walk off with a six and be very happy indeed. On this occasion, the best result was Finbarr’s bogey five, with Charlie and I failing to score.

Ronan drives off the par four 13th

Product Testing
I’ve been doing some product testing recently on a few bits and pieces, one of which is the Golf Grip Raincoat. The idea of the product is that it slips over your club and keeps your grip dry while you take practice swings in the rain. I’ve been a bit ho-hum about it because it doesn’t lend itself to my style of play: I don’t take practice swings. But standing on the 7th tee box, the sleet pounding down and the ‘raincoat’ in place on my Driver, I discovered that my three friends all thought it very nifty. I also discovered that it did its job perfectly as I waited my turn (last) to play. Easy to put on; easy to slip off. Adam may need to consider adding that to his product description video clip.

Hole of The Day – the par three 12th
174 yards and we all found the green. Charlie who had been playing – and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this – crap, sank his 8 footer for birdie. A rare flash of his usual brilliance.
The tantalising par three 12th
Birdie of the Day – the par five 11th
The only two birdies came back to back, on 11 and 12, and the 512 yard par five saw Ronan hitting two big shots to reach the bunker beside the green. His sublime 20 yard bunker shot almost went in the hole, leaving the simplest of tap-ins.

Green to tee (above the Irish cross) on the 12th. Charlie's birdie putt to come - his ball  is next to the flag.
Shot of the Day – the par four 14th 
Finbarr, in the bunker well below the green, caught the ball perfectly – too perfectly – and it flew over the green, over the heads of Ronan and Charlie, and clattered into the Beech tree beyond… which kindly deflected it back onto the green.

Team of the day
Finbarr and Ronan dovetailed perfectly and delivered some great golf. We played off the White tees (par 71, 6,560 yards) so it wasn’t a short round either. They deserved the money… which they refused to take

Called the "Augusta of Europe”, Druid’s Glen was designed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock. It opened in 1995 and hosted the first of four Irish Opens in 1996. The price to play here doesn’t reflect that at all, with green fees ranging from the current €45, to €85 on a weekend in July… play on a weekday and it’s just €55.

A big thank you to Druid’s Glen Resort – the course was in great condition and the greens were perfect. My golf was poor but my love for the place shines on.


  1. Very Enjoyable article - we are delighted you braved the elements to get in a game. Hopefully we see you again when the weather gets a bit warmer.

    From the Druids Glen Team.

    1. Always, always, always a pleasure. One day I will par that 1st hole... and the 6th... and the 18th.