Sunday, June 30, 2013

Insomniacs Golf – Westport Insanity

The clubhouse at 3.45am
Who in their right mind would get up at 2.45am to be ready to play golf at 4am?

As I drove from Louisburgh to Wesport Golf Club, in the first drifts of rain, I was asking myself that very question. What the hell was I doing?

The Golfing Insomniacs event at Westport GC is celebrating its 20th year. That’s 20 years of people rising in the small hours to finish their round of golf in time for breakfast. There can be as many as 80 golfers roaming the fairways, giving late night revellers cause to believe that drink has affected their eyesight.

Yesterday morning our numbers were not that high – weather induced, no doubt – but golfers came from Donegal, Galway, Cork, England and Wexford to join the locals from Mayo. The event is a Scramble and a shotgun start. A shotgun was used originally, until the locals complained. No surprises in this idyllic and very peaceful part of the world. Now we had a car horn, leant on by Paul O’Neill who, along with one of my partners, Mary Dolan, helped to organise the event and spread the word.

Mary Dolan and Christy Madigan... and 5.05am
By the time the gloom had lifted sufficiently, it was 5.05am and the drizzle had settled in for the day… as only drizzle can. I was playing with Christy Madigan, the club’s Captain, and Mary Dolan. Our fourth had clearly chosen to stay in bed! As we headed down the 1st, Christy noticed that he wasn’t wearing his golf shoes. As he ran back to the car, Mary told me that one year a competitor arrived on the tee before realising that his golf clubs were still at home. The wife was called, his clubs arrived and he birdied the opening six holes. I’m still wondering how he managed to convince his wife to traipse down at that hour of the morning. I know the response I’d get if I phoned my wife at 5am: “Honey, I forgot my clubs. Would you bring them… hello, hello…”

Not something you see every day
Anyone who knows Westport knows that the start is slow and steady parkland. The course's thrillers start on the 7th and just keep going. By that stage we’d had one bogey and one birdie. The course finds its teeth after that, with 8, 11, 12, 13 and the par five 15th proving a very tough stretch. It is also the best section of the course, bringing you alongside the estuary, onto rollercoaster fairways… and under the gaze of Croagh Patrick.

The 15th was playing into the wind and required a big drive over the estuary. We birdied it thanks to Mary’s drive, Christy’s second and third and the final putt by me. It was the perfect combination which we repeated on 17 and then on 18. Three birdies in the last four gave us cause for hope, but we were a mile off as the winning score was 10 under. Mind boggling stuff given the conditions.

The par five 18th
And for this slice of madness you pay €10/€20 (member/visitor), which includes a cooked breakfast.

I do, however, think Westport GC is missing a trick: they need to include a memento or badge that competitors can take away and hang on a wall… something that says 

“I survived the Westport Golfing Insomniacs Challenge… and went back to bed.”

No comments:

Post a Comment