Shane Lowry putting on the 7th green at Adare Golf Club
THEY are back and this time they have been to Adare.
Jeff: I did not see you at Adare for the golf course opening on Friday week last, I thought you'd be in the middle of it all?
Mutt: I was there all right and on Thursday as well. The crowd was bigger than I expected, so, to get the best vantage points, I watched them drive off then kept moving on ahead by two or three holes and waited for the match to catch up.
Jeff: What did you learn?
Mutt: Rory McIlroy's driving is incredible. If we could play our second shots from where Rory plays his we'd both be playing off scratch - even at our advanced ages. Rory was consistently 20/25-yards past Harrington and Lowry and they had a bigger advantage over McGinley. I never saw a ball going so far, so high and so straight. But, Rory's putting wasn't impressive. He didn't seem to be focusing as hard as the others.
Jeff: He is a hard one to figure out.
Mutt: Having played the golf course off the white tees to 'much easier' pins on the day prior myself, I would say that Adare could be turned into a 'monster' at a few week's notice. While, most of the time it will be a benign 'resort test' with wide open, fairways up to 80-yards wide and greens receptive to 'ground balls.' There aren't many parklands that play like a links but, Adare does. My biggest difficulty was chipping from pin-high beside the greens, not in front of them. I didn't know whether to 'bump' my chips, play them along the ground or lob them. After a round or two, I guess I'd figure it out. Lowry is a magician at chipping. It is as impressive as Rory's driving.
Jeff: That's a great tribute to the designer, Tom Fazio. He has built a course for all seasons that suits everyone, be they touring pros, low-handicap amateurs or twenty-two handicap duffers. By the way, I'm curious to know how you expect to become familiar with the course at the prices they are charging?
Mutt: I don't! But I did appreciate the opportunity to be there once to enjoy a standard of greens-keeping that is rarely afforded. All of the sand applied to the fairways and greens during construction means spotless shoes and lively-performing golf balls. The sub air system drainage underfoot means the course will always be dry and bouncy. With so many trees gone and knowing the course as well as I used to do, I felt a bit disorientated by the sight of golfers playing several holes ahead of me. Previously, you saw only one hole at a time.
Jeff: How much does it actually cost to join as a member?
Mutt: €5000 per annum with an €8500 entrance fee. That's un-affordable for most but not by world standards. Leaving money aside, Adare is a unique piece of land and it is largely built for the American market where the deepest pockets are. It may be expensive but the facilities justify it. The price is in line with similar venues elsewhere. It is an exclusive, special place.
Jeff: Before the renovation, Adare was regarded as the best parkland course in Ireland - what will the magazines say now? You can't go higher than No. 1. Where would you rank Adare now?
Mutt: I won't rank golf courses numerically. Rankings are an abomination! I will name my favourites and, believe it or not, Adare is not among them (yet). That does not take away from any of my previous comments. I would need another dance or two before falling in love!
Jeff: To be honest, I am not overwhelmed by the idea that everything must be perfect. Golf should take place in natural surroundings.
Mutt: I know it's not for everybody but there are enough rich people in the world who will enjoy the opulent luxury and if that happens to be within 9-miles of my home - better still. Some (hard working) people around here will enjoy the spin offs. And, if we have a Ryder Cup staged in County Limerick in the future, as promised, the spin-offs will be in mega bucks!
Jeff: You have me sold! To sample it for myself I am going to have at least a couple of 'goes' at qualifying for the McManus Pro Am in 2020. Who knows? I might be lucky in the draw and I'll also be making my contribution to Limerick Charities.
Mutt: The new system of qualifying gives everyone a fair chance and takes away the opportunity for 'cheaters' to enter packed teams that gives nobody but themselves a chance. Am I naive in thinking there are more honest golfers than cheats and, therefore, more will enter as a result? The qualifiers are designed to support good causes but some people seem to think that it is themselves alone that is the good cause. Qualifying has already started. If you want to know how to enter, go to www.jpmcmanusproam for full information.
Jeff: Surely there are vastly more honest golfers than cheats? Every club has its hooky handicap merchants. Everyone knows them but they are in the minority. Hooky teams spoil the fun for genuine teams and it looks as if the McManus Pro Am has figured out a way to nullify their antics. Fair dues!