In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris reports on the Midwest Alliance trip to the magnificent Dromoland Castle.
The third outing of the Midwest Alliance was held in cold and blustery conditions at Dromoland on Sunday last on a course that was visibly drying underfoot as play was under way. If only we had one completely dry week, us golfers would not know ourselves!
As usual, I was unable to prevent my over-active mind from wandering as I went around. Images of the late, Peter ‘Snowball’ O’Connor kept interfering with my backswing, which is a most unkind thing to say because Snowball was a very stylish and accomplished golfer who was appointed the Club’s professional when the course first opened for play in 1961 as a 9-hole course.
I played a round with him at Dromoland in 1963, including hitting balls on his personal imaginary ‘new nine, out the back of the old course’ after which he tried to persuade me to turn professional but I knew my limitations even then.
Peter came from good golfing stock. Himself, Christy O’Connor Senior, was a famous cousin. Peter always took great pride in telling everyone he met that the rolling land, magnificent lake, streams and thousands of mature trees at Dromoland had unlimited potential. “Mark my words, one day, Dromoland will be one of the best parkland-lakeside tracks in the country.” He used to say. Time hasn’t proven him wrong!
The Joe Carr-Ron Kirby redesign team made Peter’s dream come true. While the layout remains instantly recognizable to me, many of the original holes have been transformed. Perhaps the most remarkable work took place at the 4th (490 yards), 5th (405 yards) and 9th (323 yards), three holes that were previously on dull, featureless land.
By tree-planting and digging out a deep channel along the left-hand side and allowing it to grow wild with fescue, then raising and reshaping the two greens, the previously nondescript 4th and 5th have become far better golf holes. The 9th used to be a mundane par-3. With a lake now in front of the green, it is a teaser. I find the final three holes on both nines extremely challenging with the rearranged, last three on the second nine savagely difficult. If I could score three pars on that stretch, I’d consider myself a real player.
The 16th (455 yards, par 4) is channelled out of rock and forest but it is the river along the left hand side that widens into a lake that divides the fairway providing most of the trouble. The 17th hole (220 yards, par 3) requires a formidable carry of 190 yards across a ball-devouring swamp. I can’t help remembering that the 18th hole (580 yards, par 5) has been altered to a mirror image of its former self and now goes around the rim of the lake from left to right.
I’m still not 100% sure about the rights and wrongs of whether the large Sequoia tree that dominates the lay up area, should be allowed to be so obtrusive?
If money was unlimited it might be possible to clear out the right hand side, raise up and move the fairway over there to create as spectacular a finishing hole as could be imagined? But that’s an argument for another day because I’m sure it would be a very expensive undertaking.
Results - Mid West Alliance - 17/02/2013 – Gross: 1st - Cian McNamara (PGA, Monkstown and Limerick, 70), 2nd - David Foley (PGA, Dromoland) and Fergus Harrold (Castletroy, 72.) Nett: 1st - Alan Neville (Dromoland, 8 – 67), 2nd – David Casey (Dromoland, 9 – 70) and Pat Lucey (Ennis, 7 – 70). Nearest the pin: No. 7 - Ian Dowling (Castletroy, 9, the former Munster rugby winger who is making great strides at golf this winter), No. 13 – Dave O’Donovan (Muskerry, scr.), No. 17 – David Foley (PGA, Dromoland.) Most Birdies: (4) - Cian McNamara, David Foley, Fergus Harrold, Tim Rice (PGA, Limerick), Ian Colleran (PGA), Dave O’Donovan, Mark Reynolds (Dromoland), Mike Quinlivan (PGA), Mike Kemmy (Limerick) and Alan Neville (Dromoland).
DOONBEG, Lahinch and Ballybunion will stage their third, highly popular, Great Irish Links Challenge on May 7, 8 and 9. Played in teams of four over the three internationally renowned links, the winning score is the cumulative team stableford total over the three days of competition.
A Galway-based team of Gus Connors, Pat Curtis, David Daly and Mike O’Dell became the worthy champions last year by holding off a strong overseas challenge.
Entry costs €595 per person and includes a welcome reception, golf at the three courses, daily transport to the three venues, prizes and the final gala dinner. It does not include flights or accommodation.
Words of the Wise
Because swing styles differ, each and every Tour player looks different. But if you look closely, all Tour players are alike at impact. That’s the moment of truth! Think of Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson, for example. On the surface, their swings ‘look’ so different but at impact they are very similar. All good players “sustain the lag,” i.e. they de-loft the club head and compress the ball. Tour players call it ‘flushing the ball.’ How many balls have you flushed lately? – Bobby Clampett.