Chapter 2 – The Irish Tourney
Hello all! We finally arrived in Dublin on Thursday, April 4th to be greeted immediately (6:00 am – yes 6:00 in the morning!!) by our very special friends (fellow survivors from our whitewater rafting adventure in New Zealand) Roscoe and Cheryl from Australia. They had arrived the night before. After a quick coffee and baileys, we picked up our boogie van (literally!!!) and off we zoomed to Kilkenny – 60 km in the wrong direction! The positive of being lost – we saw more Irish vistas! We spent four days and nights in Kilkenny – a quaint, friendly, rich with history, and humming town!
Day 2 was the start of our golf journey! Our first conditioning round prior to the Social Media Tournament was Mount Juliet, followed by Mount Wolseley Golf Club – both great parkland courses. We all agreed Mount Wolseley was a 4* course! Weather was great, birdie/par juice was flowing and great laughs by all. Considering we were jet lagged and the courses were challenging, golf play was reasonable.
Fun was had by all and super excited to hit the Links style courses and the 4-day tournament.
Tournament format was a 2-person team and Champagne format – which means you select the best drive and both players play their own ball from that point on, using the Stableford System off of a 3/4 handicap to determine the winner over four days. (Frig – that was damn confusing – especially since the Stableford System is so rarely used in Canada). The tournament had 132 golfers, 68 teams, and less than 10 women (you guess how many men!)
The tournament included four championship courses: Ballybunion Old Course (top 10 in the world), Ballybunion Cashen Course, Tralee, and Dooks (oldest course in Ireland). The Shields Team finished a respectable 25th in a field of 68 teams – our golf buddies, Roscoe and Cheryl finished with style as well! A blast was had by all. The four of us agreed Tralee was our favorite of all the courses so far.
Tom Kennedy and Alice Thompson (Experience Ireland Golf & Travel) organized the whole tournament and our 5 week trip across Ireland and Scotland. They have done a terrific job thus far. We are especially appreciative of their amazing service because Stevie lost a crown from his mouth into the Irish Sea when we were being ferried across to Ballybunion. Emergency dental support was required. Alice came through big time! Thank you! Just another Shields travel moment! Ha ha!
Key highlights from the six golf courses::
- What can you say about the Irish… they are the singing voice people; positive; incredibly social and engaging; interesting; beautiful; will tell you stories and jokes that have you lost in excitement and laughter for hours; and, they just can’t do enough for you.
- The country is truly “green” – everywhere with speckles of white from sheep and browns and black from cattle. You can’t drive very far without seeing a castle or remnants of one.
- Golfing the links style courses has been magical including the challenges, views (always on the ocean), fescue (or as our caddie called it “love grass” because when you are in it you truly are “f#&%*d”)
- Our transportation – well we have been driving a van that could fit a small army! Mind you…with 4 sets of clubs, 4 suitcases and all the other stuff we were carrying, we are thankful for the room! It has been interesting at times with the narrow roads – “everyone suck your guts in”!
- Guinness and Kilkenny in Ireland tastes nothing like the canned stuff in Canada or Australia – hence the need to consume as many as possible while we are here!
- Cheryl and Roscoe’s two daughters (Alana and Emma), as well as their boyfriends (Scott and Dan, also known as Ben) (two sisters dating two brothers!) surprised Roscoe in Kilkenny. Good “craic” (pronounced crack – meaning great fun) was had by all – an authentic Irish weekend of singing and dancing to an Irish band at the Kyteler’s Pub (hundreds of years old); visiting the Kilkenny castle; Smithwicks brewery tour and tastings; etc.etc…. Kilkenny has an extensive historical background – check it out on Google!
- Sharing a bottle of champagne with our Aussie buds in the hotel room overlooking the ocean in Ballybunion watching a fully scored video of our last adventure together to Alaska last year. Thank you Caitlin (3rd daughter) for creating an amazing video!!
- “Birdie juice” to celebrate birdies (which were few and far between) – “par punch” when two or more of us had a par on the same hole (fortunately more of these) – “pity punch” (when someone has a really bad hole – several of these) – and of course, the celebratory pints of Guinness on the 19 hole to property close off the game and reflect on the last 18 holes.
We sadly said goodbye to Roscoe and Cheryl after the tourney as they were heading back to London to continue their visit with their kids. Fran and I continued our Irish journey too Spanish Point for the next round of golfing experiences.
To all of you who read our Blogs, we are raising a pint of Guinness to you and thank you for your interest. Stay tuned to Blog #3.
Slainte (good health)