Our fourth and final day of golf in Ireland was spent at The Links at Portmarnock. If you thought playing in an occasional blast of cold rain was tough, that was nothing compared to the challenge of playing with 35 – 40 mph prevailing winds and a gust or two that reached near 60 mph. It was marvelous. My golf partner, Noreen and our hosts, Liz Hurley and Chantal McCabe — we each bundled up in as many layers as we could, found warm hats and winter gloves and off we went to challenge this classic championship course. This is what golf is all about in Ireland, and I would not have missed it. If you ever play golf in Ireland, you have to play at least one links course to really appreciate the game of golf.
Those pretty parkland golf courses are beautiful with their manicured fairways and greens. Playing golf on a links course next to the raging ocean is a totally different experience. The wind was constant and strong and many an unexpected gust took our balls into deep pot bunkers and tall grasses. Once buried in the sand and bushes it was nearly impossible to punch your ball out to the fairway if you were lucky enough to find your ball. Try as I might I had a hard time keeping the ball low enough to control it. If I wanted to land in the middle of the fairway I had to aim far to the right or left, depending on the wind. The one saving grace was that on Portmarnock, if I did hit a fairway, I was guaranteed a very long roll and I actually got a birdie on the par 5, 13th hole. My first shot landed high on a sand dune on the left of the fairway, but I got off a great second shot that rolled just short of the green. A chip and a putt and I was in for 4!
But the birdie was still not enough for a win. Our hosts teamed up against Noreen and I as the GolfGurls.com team for match play. Chantal McCabe and Liz Hurley dressed in matching outfits and perhaps it was that which gave them that “expert boost” that won the day.
I’m going to be visiting a friend in Dublin shortly and one of the fellows who works with her is a links golfer and he often plays Portmarnock. I need to get a moment with him and find out the secret of playing the links! I intend to be back to try again — on a less windy day!
Have you ever played a links course? What was it like? What’s the secret to your success? Share your story in the comment space below.