Breathtaking Nature Unconcealed
The end of May is supposed to allow Summer to come gently in but with might and gusto the trail blazing winds and sea frets tore at the dunes covered in grassland, marram turf and whin bush making up the Newcastle County Down Golf Course sat at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.
For the last four days of May playing host to players of Golf it was to prove a vicarious tormenting sometimes toiling experience.
Not only but also.
Summoning up the skills to balance and control a golf ball over a customary eighteen adventurously man fashioned distances and contoured landscape to finish on a gauge of mastery found by the minimum of strokes it takes to convey a golf ball from tee to mug sized cup is not a conventional or apparently logical use of physical or mental skills.
Making it difficult not easy.
Yet it has for several centuries become a fascinating well
to draw from in causing endless retrospective, potential and most of all in the moment joyous sense of what I take to be primordial, elementary, fixation on the human state of natural connection with most of those places and conspiratorial configured by our perceptions of locality.
Without the Mountains – they are not part of the course, – without the sea, – it too is not part of the course, what are we faced with at the course known as Royal County Down but a knot of construed sand dunes and grass lands bound into a rough cast then honed set of eighteen – the primary course, as other holes are intermittent and ‘resting’ often – towards a settlement on which to set foot with an assemblage of ironmongery, joinery and grassland tools such that a small white ball of flexible durable quality can be struck off, a European grass, Sieglingia decumbens, growing in spongy, wet, cold soils. with velocity, trajectory and proposed direction of flight to that other place.
It takes a bit of persuading some other use may have been made for it. The inhospitable links possibly a rehearsal of a Coney Island, (rabbit farm) or farming of a specialist kind. Not for living on and fit for Jurassic mammals.
The best there is.
Reaching a goal about four inches radius is tricky in most circumstances and here inestimably, unprovable, untestable, though in about 100% of people who are ever likely to have gone and been beholden of the place in certain conditions would attribute as being the wholly best golf course to be found anywhere in the world or any where else in Gods wonderous creation is spectacularly axiomatic.
Standing on the maram grass plans of the Slieve Donard foothills and swathes as they have long left the mountain or been carved of the sea into grains of land, a voltage of intense human credulity is experienced as the combinations of sporting witness and wonderment of the elemental forces and three co-ordinates make anyone alive to the fact they are just that, alive in a world of immense complex functional concordance.
Eighty percent automatic.
It is such a breathtaking location the eighty percent of our brainpower devoted continually to our senses, scientific fact, has within it amassed another priceline we know is the wonder of God. To that we recourse within ourselves to the outside immediacy that heavenly truth.
There is no place for anything else. Here is the human race aside the mountain and paying homage to the wonder by finding the paradoxical limits it can be persuaded to form a measure of accountable belonging.
We were not put here for games but here there it is only the beginning.
Playing and watching.
Wind and Sea.
Like a fairground attraction the limits of elements are to be persuaded as unconquerable on this certainty resides. So the first few days of very windy and wet weather which fell on and disrupted the play to the extent very skilled Golfers frustrations grew to such an extent they got to find their limits for a round of Golf with wind howling, dragging their trajected ball off their intended target into rough, spectators, bushes, or bunkers never invisaged became common place.
Low flight, understanding the variables became a set of new honed estimation. Never clear if correct but for some near to the mark it found lack in many of a different ilk. Some even entered tamely into distracted adherence to false readings of their skills at adaption and the conditions, nature took over.
Some played over around nature.
Please note any ‘action shots’ are taken in preparation play so I did not invoke any censure of the many Marshall’s. The ban on photography with the ubiquitous iPhone is not called for and what could be objectionable would be continually filming or taking shots in the close proximity and in the flow of thinking time. People can and should be careful and acknowledge this game has heaps ridding on the slightest thing.
I also noted it was hard to follow as boards were down due to their causing spectator injury on earlier days. Knowing who it was you were looking at was often difficult to ascertain.
Day 4. Down the first. Danny Willet’s first shot came up to my elevated mid fairway position to nestle in a fairly good lie. He went on with this wind howling about him to figure at 68 for his round the lowest of the day.Reaching the green was simple but approach it seemed was to be taken with compelling skillful reading of the conditions that he found in abundance.
Similarly playing partner, Moritz Lampert was a little lower and of the green with his first.
Conditions were very often when putting into thirty mph headwinds and strong hitters still had to contend with joint higher cross winds as off the banks the shelter would alter the wind in velocity and direction.
Down this hole the wind was from the right of the photo looking back to tee but when one or two played it they shot it too high and also with insufficient force and got a lie on the other side of the mound of bank, sans bunkers, un- sighting the hole.
Angel looses it!!
From a left lie on the fairway, perfectly judged, Angel Jimenez actually could just get sight of the flag. But he fired his second shot in not allowing for the lower trajectory flight having less effect than windy conditions would appear having forgotten to afford some leniency, which was to prevail, from that bank, mound. He landed on the left of the green about thirty five feet from the hole and then putted across. It came up well short as the wind was misread again.
From a pleasant walk down this fairway to get the remainder wrong saw him fume in a fit of rage and fire his putter into the whin bushes behind him!! He, the realist, found his skills tested so much the joviality or confident air severely tested by this extraordinary course.
The Sailor down the ninth.
Earlier on, before I took this photo I saw a tall man in a white cap from the edge of the eighth green take one putt and place his hands on his hips. It went by on this exposed, elevated green. Then he tried again from the opposite direction. It failed to drop. Then in a slower address and slightly closer he managed to putt the ball. He double bogeyed.
Here he is coming up the fairway of this ninth hole, with his usual sailors walk. Even Matt Ford, the playing partneris now in step. It is the legend in those and these arts Padraig Harrington.
A smile it seems is in place. He would bogey a few more as this relatively contestable set of conditions were to become merciless for him later. This is a save for McDowell who did impress from the little I saw of him. He is like a Rafa Nadal on clay and grinds out a result.
Out on his own for a Sunday walk, his partner Paul McGinley was scratched due to a back injury, came , to his arrival at this green which he played to with great accuracy in order to take a low lofted approach, the wind here was between twenty and forty and was at ground level, meaning it was fierce enough to cut the grass had it been your back lawn and not this deep rooted variety.
He had these two card keepers one of whom wanted to play alongside him but could not summon up the question knowing it wasn’t cricket to ask.
The ball landed in a perfect spot on the green and this guy can really play a game of Golf even if it is by himself. He is also a very strong hitter of the ball but may lack the fairway distance many tournaments go sweet by – is it for the sale of Golf Clubs? – your guess is as good as my belief!
On those holes which are relatively sheltered on both sides with low banks there was continual misreading.This poor chap. Lee Slattery, had by luck when the tee shot hit a bank on the left hit it in the mid section of its four foot height and therefore below the whin bushes rooted on top of it, made it to the green on the left with a long put.
You can tell! He is off the green with one leg to read to the relatively sympathetically placed centred hole. Few birdies here it seemed except for later leaders. The previous hole at the end which backs onto the hideous caravan park is near the the for this hole. It was a par three and Mr Shane (wedgie) Lowry made a proper save being up a short bank of the sort a mountain goat might take advantage of and holed out for the three.
There were only two birdies up to that point and I witnessed one just before which makes for good spectating. It drew from a fellow spectator in a Rosses Point, County Sligo no nonsense fleece/pullover – following Shane who hails from Sligo and that famous and beautiful links, the fullest of praise for the skills of the players and the extraordinary location which he had played around in the fifties. And he remembered this hole.
The wonderful Thongchaia Jaidee A new hero of mine who went round on his own in 72 with McGinley laid up..
Approach shot to the 12th I think.
Later he has another easy save for par.More merciless Golf.Image is everything Luke Donald enjoys the chase up with Eddie Pepperwell at the serious end on 17.
The seventeenth is fronted by a ridiculous triangle of a pond.
Every single player drew up about ten feet in front and lofted a stroke to land basically behind the flag. This is where the downfall of the consistently playing on the back nine came adrift momentarily for Soren Kjeldsen as he three putted here from the far left side of the green. A slight downward slope.
He went on, was not the only one, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Eddie Pepperwell went down the final hole (before the expected – and looming playa off – to play the relatively benign 18th in very ragged fashion. The business end.
Wiesberger has a nice – though you can barely see it, lie.
This is the play-off hole.
This is Soren having a crafty look at the lie of Bernd’s tee shot on the play-off hole.
“Look’s like he’s in a spot of bother old chap!”
Then the chip from Bernd.The swing.
The ‘relief’of applause ripples back to here.The weather had relented by then and conditions were a lot calmer but these guys, Cabrera-Bello particularly, Kjeldsen, Pepperwell and the slightly floundering Wiesberger took to the eighteenth in a raggedy fashion. The shot across green left to right of Kjeldsen particularly was one which went from low swale over the top crown of the green to low swale on the opposite side and he was damn fortunate to sink the four/five footer for a save.
Onto the business end and at the point I stood Bernd Wiesberger struck his tee shot, he went second, SJ had a nice fairway lie, straight over my head to within four feet of me.
It was a safe enough lie as the photos here show and was within thirty feet of the green with the flag unsighted.
The rest is history and it was a brilliant finish.
We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Darren Clarke and the crew wanting Links Golf to become a natural barometer of this decades Golf seasons afterwards went into a chorus of “it really depends what Rory’s calendar suits but it would be better to have it later and avoid the prospect of atrocious weather.” I disagree. Yes move it up into July fortnight! But it is a special course and all that played it over the 4 days can say they played as challenging set of holes as ever likely to be encountered and conditions were not for long hitting automaton Golf or for certain skill sets. It was for sportsmen well able to see and adapt and some luck undoubtedly prevailed but as a test it was truly a fantastic bewitching natural embodiment of this oddest of pastimes come 21st century addictive affliction making many people lots of money and in the background persuading them of their least available skill sets en route.
It was straight out of the bag a heartfelt connection Rory McIlroy felt for his compatriots here in Northern Ireland going through tremendous struggle of a kind he had; and hopefully he remains free of from closeness as most want and wish, to the unexplained illness burden carried by the smallest in physical strength – children carrying Cancer genes which has diminished their access to even the briefest encounter with the opposite side of God’s wonders.
World No.1 golfer Rory McIlroy officially opened Cancer Fund for Children’s Therapeutic Short Break Centre, Daisy Lodge, in Newcastle Northern Ireland on Tuesday 7th October 2014. The new centre, which is the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland, will provide short breaks to up to 500 families a year affected by cancer.
This is by it’s very nature going to be a cause in which he will and has invested his abundance of goodwill and wish to do something with what he has acquired. He knows only too wel he has been gifted a life through be it the foresightedness of his parents, his background in one of the finest locations in the world for his adopted sport with the skill set to take him to the very top.
In those few short years his exemplary approach has been to be creative and he founded quite literally his own reasoned approach and outreach with immense approachable common sense prevailing.
This is truly a suitable accompaniment to the game of Golf and thou
2 June 2015
Epsom and Special places.
The very amplitude and significance of such variations though across decades are exemplified by memory and likewise I suggested from whatever era it was un shifting. I mentioned that having lived in Epsom a very long time and witnessed, walked the course and knew the undulations extremely well that it remains a true test of a racehorse and seldom a bad one wins though some years are occasionally lacking in luster.
Courses for Horses
For the record I would have let Gleneagles take his chance but knowing trainers can conceal things, (Tamure 2nd to unraced at 2 Lammtara, spent a week with his foot in a bucket of ice almost and while we knew something was array we, the Public on whose money it all depends, didn’t know what.
John Gosden kept his cards close and Tamure went lame about sixty yards out on those undulations and took a hammering as Lammtara raced to the line alone. Still, it was a sacrifice Gosden didn’t have to make, only the horses welfare which he failed miserably being laconic as usual about the vagaries only numbers game race trainers are familiar with.) so with regret I ignore his two as who knows what goes on in that yard or what suits the animals, Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs. I think the make and shape of Hans Holbein makes it possible he will have improved filled even in the past month to be settled and staying on at the finish. Other than that I would hope Elm Park got his slight ease in the ground and they similarly came back to him. The Derby always has a skyrocket setting some idiotic case and this may also be the case on this Saturday. Nothing special has appeared so far so even by default the likes of Golden Horn may stay on and win.