Irish Roadtrip: Showdown at Lahinch

It was a long month after my defeat to Dave at the Caldy Club.

With the weather cheering up throughout May I’ve (thankfully!) had plenty of time to sort my game out and get some much needed practice in down at our local club. Having always espoused the virtues of playing golf free of any memberships, Dave and I finally bit the bullet and joined our local club.

As our golfing trips have been growing more extravagant over time, we’ve found that we’ve had to spend longer saving up for them, which has led to our games (or mine at least) deteriorating. Despite how much I’ve improved over since I first picked golf up, I’ve conceded now that I need regular practice to stay on top of my game and have a hope of beating Dave in what has now become a monthly excursion, rather than a weekly one.

Thanks to having unlimited access to 18-holes as well as a putting green and selection of short holes, I feel like I’ve been able to iron out the kinks that have been present in my game for a while. Unfortunately, whilst I’ve been sharpening up game, Dave has also had time to perfect his.

I’d already got the upper hand by the time we’d made it to hole 1 of the legendary Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club, thanks to the frequent stops on our way through Ireland. Dave has had a penchant for Guinness since his university days and, sure enough, the promise of a freshly poured pint of the black stuff was too much for him to resist. As I was driving, we ended up stopping for frequent breaks along the road from home to Dublin then on to Limerick and finally Lahinch. By the time we arrived at the course for our tee-off at the world-renowned Old Course, Dave had some significant bags under his eyes and a ‘sore head’.

The first game of golf was played at Lahinch in 1892 by a Lieutenant of the Black Watch Regiment and a Limerick businessman, on a course marked by feathers and sticks. Two years later Alexander Shaw and other officers from the Black Watch Regiment enlisted the help of Old Tom Morris to design a new links course that emphasised the sandhills of the area. Upon its completion Morris declared it ‘the finest natural course he had ever seen’. Whilst Dave and I certainly don’t have the same golfing pedigree as Old Tom, we were both inclined to agree with his sentiment.

Thanks to Dave’s unmarked Guinness-related handicap I was able to get off to a flying start on hole 1, avoiding the troublesome bunkers that Dave plunged straight into. After having troubles on the 2nd and 3rd, however, Dave was still breathing at my neck and I had to get my head firmly screwed on to maintain my focus.

Despite his hangover, the opulent environs and World-class environment had lit a fire in his belly and soon he was playing with the confidence of a pro. Thankfully, after a couple of duff drives on the 10th and 11th, it became apparent that Dave’s brief comeback was waning and I soon managed to putt my way to a 3-stroke victory.

Dave refused to admit that the Guinness might have affected his play and shook my hand firmly at the end, although we both know that the next time we meet will be our true battle.