Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Galway Goes Golf

Galway Golf Club's 5th hole. Index 1 par 4.
"Just don't three putt the first green," said Dave, the General Manager at Galway Golf Club. We were sitting in the upstairs restaurant, looking down on the practice green where balls were flying off putters and leaving golfers bemused. We had been discussing the speed of the USGA spec greens, and I was officially terrified. Fast greens are not my forte.

Dave needn't have worried. I didn't three putt... I four putted.

Galway Golf Club is one of those old venerable clubs which are scattered around the country, at the heart of the bigger towns and have had golfers wandering their fairways for decades, or, in Galway's case, since 1895. It is located in Salthill, just west of Galway city, and you will have striking views over Galway Bay for most of the round.

Approach to the par four 10th is a sweet drop down the hill

Where does the time go

The course was packed and a 12.33 tee time suggested a five+ hour round was in the offing. That's the way golf seems to be going and it is rare to play with strangers these days without a discussion about the longest round you've ever played... over six hours in my case. But Galway GC has an efficient system - or else it is lucky enough to have golfers who actually pay attention to the pace of the game and the game's etiquette. I played with Frank, Jim and John and we were walking off 18 in under four hours. It makes the game so much more enjoyable.

The par 5 12th heads up the slope and then doglegs late and
right, around some trees.
The sun was out. It was a perfect day... not unlike the first time I had visited. And it was a welcome return to a course I had enjoyed, and enjoyed considerably more on this occasion. From the scorecard, you might feel the course is not long (5,974 metres from the championship tees, 5,716 metres from the greens), but it requires a lot of respect. Positioning off the tee makes the difference between having opportunities and not having a chance. Greens are well defended and trees often step in to complicate matters - sometimes early, sometimes right by the green. Local knowledge counts.

Views back down the 18th.
There is some water on the opening four holes, next to the sea - where a new sea defence is being built after the February storms - and then the hillside really comes in to play on the back nine. It's an entertaining mix that will keep you enjoying one hole after another. But you only have to look at the photographs to know that. Green fees are €35-€40.

You'll find the full set of Galway Golf Club photographs here.

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