"It's not where you go, but who picks you up." I remember Dr. Danneberger saying this about his traveling stories. Personally experiencing this on my own excursions and adventures this summer, I couldn't agree more.
My side trips have been to several spots in Ireland and one to Holland. With each adventure I met many new people, each adding to the experience.
All roads led to County Louth Golf Club at Baltray, my home for the summer.
Arriving first at the village of Baltray. It was this small seaside village that became my summer home. County Louth Golf Club will always be special thanks to all the employees and members of this club. Many from County Louth have assisted my summer excursions in more ways than one.
All who I have met there showcased the Irish hospitality. Knowing I was so far away from home, they wanted to make me feel as close to home as possible. With everything brought about for me, they succeeded.
The clubhouse/restaurant at County Louth Golf Club. My accommodations were above.
Outside of Baltray, I've met other passionate people in the golf industry. Most of these connections came from volunteering at the Irish Open. Had I not gotten to know the volunteers at the K Club, my trips to Portmarnock Links and The Dutch would not have been the same. The visits were fantastic. Each golf course was class, more importantly though the people that picked me up made it all the better.
I did not drive a car in Ireland. Public transportation was the key to traveling. It took a while to get used to, however transport was made easy thanks to Damien Keenan and the Matthews Bus Services. Damien had supplied passes that covered trips to Dublin and Dundalk. The Matthew bus was always on time, comfortable and convenient.
The big Matthews white bus, right on time.
Dr. D was right; I have learned the best trips come about by who picks you up. My excursions this summer were made enjoyable from the Matthews Coach getting me to and from plus the people guiding me along the way. I wouldn't say Baltray is the number one place for everyone to visit in Ireland; however, for me, this summer, the people I spent this experience with made it the greatest place to be.
Over the weekend I hopped on a flight to the Netherlands where I was introduced to The Dutch. Not only am I talking about the people but the reason for the trip was to visit a golf course called The Dutch.
Dutch GC flag.
Connections can take you anywhere, right? Back during the Irish Open I met Mossy Daly, an Irishman currently working at The Dutch. More than another contact, Mossy quickly became a friend. Surely I was grateful for the invitation to Holland to view the course he talked very highly of.
Instantly I saw for myself just how impressive The Dutch is. The course was constructed in 2010 and opened for play later in 2011. Although The Dutch is very young, it is hosting the KLM Open upcoming in September. What a feat, only 5 years old and the golf course hosts an Open!
Me on the green at The Dutch.
The Dutch is inland but a links-style course; located just outside of Gorinchem, a small city where Mossy lives. Constructed from scratch, its a wonderful turnout of land that was once completely flat. Although it is not within sight or sound of the sea, there is a links feel to it. But one thing is for certain, theres never a shortage of waterways in Holland.
Busy canal in the center of Gorinchem.
Now on to my experience. The day starts off with a bicycle ride to the course. There are many, many bicycles in the Netherlands! Within cycling range, its a great way to start and finish the work day.
Mossy riding to work
After introductions to some of the crew I tagged along with Mossy to help with a project of his. The King's Course is a putting track near the practice grounds. I was happy to assist with a sodding project to lengthen one of the holes.
Area needing to be sodded.
Sod laid down.
On a trip halfway around the world who knew I would meet fellow Buckeyes! Ill tell you who would expect this, because so many times Ive been asked this summer, "Do you know Mike O'Keeffe?" Yes, I do, he is a legend! Quite a few working on the Dutch's green crew had been part of Ohio's Global Turfgrass Program.
Paul O'Donoghue is now the Superintendent there. He had been at Ohio State in 2007. I was thrilled talking to Paul about Columbus and places we both knew. Quite honestly, it pumped me up for this school year too!
Mossy and Paul
Other Buckeyes there are David Howe, David Dukelow, and Andrew Cowie. There sure is one fine crew at the Dutch!
An important note is that The Dutch is not completely finished. The course will continue to be a fantastic sight while the gorse plants, marram grass and other links type plants grow in full. Even with the course in progress, it is in fantastic shape! I am excited to see how itll look down the road. And certainly I am grateful for the visit, and pleased to have been invited back.
Me wearing The Dutch polo.
Until next time, Holland. Cheers!
A week off work allowed me to put on my tourist shoes. My girlfriend, Jenna, and I spent the time traveling and checking off some Ireland must-dos.
Starting in Cork County, our first stop was at the Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. While I believe I already have the gift of the gab, it was a great experience with a breathtaking view.
The Blarney Stone isn't exactly where one might expect it to be...
Kissing the Blarney Stone
The night was spent in Cork City where I was glad to introduce Jenna to Irish pubs. Specifically for a proper pint of Guinness and enjoying live Irish music.
Irish "session" music
The weekend in Cork was lovely. I felt I'd need a whole week and a car to enjoy all the sights and beauty this county holds.
Next stop: Dublin, where the number one tourist attraction can be found.
Jenna and me at the Guinness Storehouse.
Yes, the Guinness factory is constantly flowing with more than just beer. Visitors come to learn the brewing process of Ireland's iconic stout and treat themselves to a fine pint with a view of the whole city.
It is important to note a proper pint of Guinness is not poured like any other beer. A multi-step process is involved. The tour offered an opportunity to learn the signature pour.
Pouring the "Perfect Pint"
Best part is you get to drink your perfect pint!
Jenna and me with our pints of Guinness
Dublin is also home to Trinity College which holds the Book of Kells (ancient Bible gospels). We were unable to visit the historical library however a tour through the campus is still very much enjoyable.
Jenna and me at Trinity College Dublin.
Leaving Dublin Jenna and I travelled to Howth, a fisherman's village on the coast for a fresh seafood dinner.
The last couple days now will be spent exploring Drogheda and introducing Jenna to all the great people who have made Ireland feel like home.
Pokémon Go has not been the drive for my summer adventures. Learning the links golf management is the fuel getting me out and about. No disrespect to any Pokémon trainers out there, I grew up wishing Pokémon were real and now look; however, this summer is geared to training in real golf links of Ireland.
This weekend I made a trip to Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links. I met course manager Fintan Brennan and his son, Mike (who is also Fintan's assistant/deputy) after volunteering at the Irish Open. Fintan has been greenkeeping on the golf links at Portmarnock since it was constructed in 1994.
Mike and Fintan Brennan
Behind the Brennans in the photo you can see Portmarnock Hotel. What some people don't know is that the land is on John Jameson's (of Jameson whiskey fame) old estate. Jameson's house still stands but now as part of the hotel and restaurant.
This lounge bar was once Jameson's living room!.
John Jameson and family are buried in the cemetery along the first fairway at Pormarnock Links.
Another remarkable fact is the greenkeepers operation center was once John Jameson's horse stables. Much has been restored but in some rooms you can see exactly what they would have looked like.
Some of the greenkeeper's sheds that were once horse stables.
Fintan and Mike gave me a tour throughout each golf hole. They were very well informative but I could tell they were even more motivated to besting the links past its potential. Fintan got the trust of the owners early on after successful projects and renovations. Being fine golfers themselves, both Fintan and Mike continue renovation on the links looking from a golfer's perspective too.
Like other Irish golf courses, management-wise they only have the help from only a handful of guys. The Irish Links Initiative states courses should apply 'minimal intervention' which I have learned first-hand. However the crew at Portmarnock is anything but minimal work; if there is a problem, they fix it.
Continuous walking through the same path will wear any turf down let alone fescue. But keeping up with todays technology can solve almost any problem. Fintan has turned to hybrid grass for his solution. A netting of artificial turf which fescue seed can be thrown into the mix.
Topdress the hybrid grass plus fescue seed and you will have a good-looking, wear-resistant walkway. The netting protects the crown of the plant and only if you look extra close below will you see the artificial turf.
Just as uncle Ben first taught me, No problems, only solutions.
(Pathway renovation photos courtesy of Mike Brennan)
Touring the course they pointed to many projects put in. A lot of hard work but it was easy to see the pride from the father/son combo. In only a couple hours they taught me much on maintaining a links course, keeping up on improvements with today's technology, and also the importance of having a good eye in golf design.
Great work to these men and their crew at Portmarnock Links! I will be sure to take them up on their offer to play a round, definitely though after a week or two on the driving range.
Me in a pot bunker.
Portmarnocks crest reads "LUX, AMOR, PAX", which is Latin for "Light, Love, Peace".
A weekend full of fun and a good ol' Irish experience. I was lucky to have been a part in the making of this weekend but I was not the luckiest one you see.
I do not mean I was out on the drink all weekend; work was still to be done. Sunday morning was an early start on the golf course to prepare for the club Presidents Prize. The bunkers having been washed out made for a set-up difficulty you wouldn't particularly enjoy on a Sunday. When the others left I chose to stay for a couple more hours using the elbow grease to scrub our operation center (locker rooms, canteen, etc.)
I'm not saying raking bunkers or mopping floors was the fun part of the weekend. When I finished though I rode my bicycle into town (head on with a strong wind which wasn't fun either) for the Irish Maritime Festival. The port in Drogheda was set up as a fairground for the weekend. A Viking and pirate themed event gave the port character and made for a show having themed ships come into port.
Pirate fights filled the river, ships lined the port and spectators gathered around. On land the Vikings had stations on their daily life, just about everything except pillaging.
Viking blacksmith forging a weapon
Styrofoam swords, but still kids get all the Viking fun
I did have a little 'Captain' in me as the adult fun came at the start of the weekend. Friday night I was invited to an Irish wedding. Only two months here in Ireland and I experienced not just the wedding but I also attended the stag (bachelor party) the weekend before!
As I said earlier though, I was not the lucky one this weekend. Assistant Greenkeeper Joe Mooney married his long time love Amanda! It was an honor being one of the guests to celebrate with Joe and Amanda but may this special weekend be for them to remember.
Joe and Amanda at the altar. Best wishes to the two!
Their first dance. You can do it!
Croke Park (pronounced crow) is the largest stadium in Ireland and hosts the Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling. On Sunday, June 26, I volunteered with the Croke Park ground crew for two Gaelic football matches.
(l-r) myself, Kyle Daves and Sam Kingston
Sam Kingston, a regular volunteer, is responsible for bringing in other volunteers who help with simple prep before the match begins and then repair pitch marks on the field during the match. This day only three were able to work (the Ireland national soccer team was playing in the Euros -- which meant you would find most of the Irish in the pubs).
Sam Kingston repairing pitch marks, Kyle there in the background
The tool of choice is a pitch fork, and the object is simple; repair any indecent indentations therefore the players are not at risk for injury, as in twisting ankles for example. The fans may not be able to see the unsightly divots, but that is not the point - it's for the players' safety.
Gaelic football players are all amateurs. Therefore, no pay... only "pride of the parish" as they say. I could describe this sport by combining the use of a soccer ball plus rugby in a sense. Scoring is accomplished hitting into a soccer net ("goal"- 3 points) or kicking over the field goal post (1 point).
You can see the scoring net behind me - to the left of the Dubliners on the famous Hill 16.
Gaelic football is interesting to watch, especially so as these athletes are not getting paid for their brutal contact sport. Hey, I wasn't getting paid either to repair their pitch marks, but I did get the front row seats right on the field of play (photo below)!
One week later I revisited Croke Park for another volunteer opportunity, this time for hurling. This was not just any hurling match but for the Leinster Province Finals - the best of the best. Kilkenny vs. Galway.
Hurling is a very skillful game plus the Irish brutality factor makes it fun to watch. It is the second fastest land sport game after hockey; mix of hockey, lacrosse and Gaelic football.
The hurl (left) is the "bat" used to control and hit the sliotar, which is very similar to a baseball.
Hurling has similar scoring as Gaelic football; a goal into the net for 3 points and hitting the sliotar through the uprights for 1 point. What impressed me was how accurate, powerful, and easily they could score through the field goal posts. A fifty yard point looked as simple as a layup.
These players are amateurs as well. No play, but pride for the province they're from. Kilkenny has been the powerhouse for the last couple years which the win verse Galway made this their third Finals win in a row.
My only job wasn't just watching the hurling match; again, I fixed the divots. This time thankfully there were more volunteers. Stuart Wilson, the superintendent at Croke Park, was there too and explained to me the following week breakdown of repairing and preparing the field for the next games. This week he has a more difficult task on hand as he is preparing the stadium for a Beyonce concert.
Stuart Wilson and me.
My travel to Dublin over the weekend consisted of many adventures, and even more ways of transport.
I took the bus to Dublin and back home to Baltray. I then hired a taxi to meet up with TurfNet's Jon Kiger (here on vacation), with whom I toured for the next two days..
Jon and I took the train to Howth, a seaside village with postcard-perfect sights. There we boarded a ferry boat which sailed around Ireland's Eye, an uninhabited island but populated by many birds and seals on the rocks. It is possible to step on shore but our tour only took us around the island.
Approaching Ireland's Eye by boat.
The remains of an old fort and a church dating to the 8th century are the only signs of previous habitation.
Me with Ireland's Eye in the background.
The train from Howth back to Dublin brought us back right on time for our other tour. This tour involved a combination of a bus and boat. The D.U.K.W. (pronounced duck) is the vehicle of choice for the Viking Splash Tours.
The D.U.K.W. is made for land and water. Each one made in the U.S.A. during WWII, these machines are almost 75 years old! Each letter has a meaning, D- fourth year USA in war (4th letter in alphabet.) U- Utility vehicle. K and W for Six Wheel drive.
I had the opportunity to talk with the mechanic, Liam O'Connor, about these GMC beasts. Liam mentioned how most parts are original so routine maintenance is required. Most importantly that brakes are checked, changed and each vehicle is all sealed up for the drive in to the water.
Liam O'Connor, mechanic, driver, and tour guide
Connor, who was our tour guide, and myself
Cruising around Dublin with the Viking Splash Tours is one great way to learn about the city and Irish history. Every passenger wearing Viking helmets, roaring as such while driving on the streets, then plunging straight in to the canal is one exciting tourist attraction.
What tour bus or boat can compete with the duck? Not only did I board a bus and boat, but the combination of both, plus the train and taxi! Just two days in Dublin and I had more different rides than ever before.
Ohio State Turf has something extra to be proud of this summer. Many students of OSU, local and international, have been found volunteering at tournaments around the world.
I was grateful to represent Ohio State at the K Club for the Irish Open. Back home, Mike Sanders, Ohio State Turf Club president and good friend of mine, is not just volunteering this week for the U.S. open, but training all summer at Oakmont Country Club. He sure does have one great gig at that historic course!
Mike Sanders is the big guy standing to the right of me.
Regarding the volunteers, Mike told me, We have volunteers who have traveled from all over the world and are from some of the best courses. and its crazy to be working side by side with them.
Mike and others at the US Open
In a long text to me in which he described his opportunity, Mike indicated that words cannot fully describe the experience of volunteering for the Open among such heady company. John Zimmers tells us every day that we are the best of the best, and he holds us to the highest expectation. I see why he has a Buckeye on his crew!
A summer at Oakmont sure will be one to remember for you, Mike! Congratulations and keep up your great I mean, BEST... efforts! More photos from Mike below:
I first want to say I do regret currently having a poor attendance on Sundays. Regular Mass I mean, which I would attend every week due to growing up in a private Catholic school. My mom will be proud though, when she reads that I went to a church over here in Ireland!
St. Peters Church
St. Peter's Church in Drogheda is not the city's only church, but it is the only one with a sacred head. Seriously. The church is also known as The St. Oliver Plunkett Memorial Church, a shrine is dedicated to St. Oliver... where his head resides.
St. Oliver: Priest, Bishop, Educator, Martyr
Nate, what do you mean there is a head in the church? Well friends, in 1681, Archbishop Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered. A few of his remains were rescued, most notably his head, plus some random bones.
The remains of St. Oliver.
The prison cell door of St. Oliver Plunkett
I was slow to walk into the church, not knowing when I'd come face to face with the 335 year old skull. Don't be frightened, lads, the head does not pop out at you! It was quite difficult to find in this magnificent church, but if by some chance any one visits do enjoy the beauty of this sacred place.
The head is incased in the grand golden temple structure
The transept is where the Saint's memorial resides. There are candles around to light and pews facing the Relic for prayer. Notably Pope John Paul II visited and prayed before St. Oliver's Relic.
Pope Paul VI canonized Dr. Oliver Plunkett to sainthood
I still don't understand how the head is preserved so well, being so old. One thing I am sure of is that miracles happen, not so much along the lines of Miracle-Gro, but every now and then we all get one of some sort!
Final day at Baltray for the Amateurs in the East of Ireland Golf Championship. Misty morning on the course but the fog cleared for the first golfers teeing off.
Red sun in the morning Golfers, take warning.
Vincent Mooney, long-time greenkeeper here at Baltray, said the red sun can be a sure sign for bad weather. However, the sunny day could still hold through the final round of play. Lets hope.
Again I set up the back nine in the morning. Tees, trash, divots and bunkers.
Behind me is the shot of the Par 5 hole 11. Foggy enough this morning that you cannot see the fairway!
Raking bunkers is not the most enjoyable job to do, especially alone. But the positive side is they are not too large, plus I like to believe it substitutes going to the gym.
After job completion and a big breakfast, the greens crew head back to their houses for the day. Surprising for a golf tournament in Ireland to have such perfect weather conditions. I hope I dont jinx myself now To the crew- a job well done this week lads!
Supt. Paul Malone happy with his toy for the week, Jacobsen AR522 the big guns
Finally, good luck to the competing golfers, finish strong!
Sunday evening marked the halfway point of the East of Ireland Amateur Championship. There will be two rounds on Monday to finish up. After first two rounds the leader is 9 under Par, with one of Baltrays own, Gerard Dunn, up near the top of the leaderboards at -5.
Work-wise, todays tasks for me were different than yesterday. I completed course set-up of the back nine while Barry Carpenter covered the front 9. Making sure to have proper alignment of the tee markers, filling any divots on the tee boxes, adding water to the ball washers, collecting any rubbish and fully raking each bunker.
Water was needed on the sod spots in the evening. No break in the weather still so the course has been drying out. Good for the game, not so good for the grass growth.
Hand watering hot spots
The dried out course gave the true links play. All the golfers enjoyed the course but surprised many because they thought the greens would be much much faster.
Mowing greens in the evening. We didnt want to stress the golfers too much on the first two rounds.
Tomorrow morning marks the last day of tournament play, and an end to a long week. Im looking forward to the wakeup call, not because its the final day, but because I get to say goodnight to my girl back home. The time is 11 p.m. in Ohio when Im getting up for tournament work so it will be the best way to start my day and finish hers.
First round of the East of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship came and went today. The schedule of the greens crew differed from the weekdays. Early start at 5 a.m. until we all complete our morning duties preparing the course for the players.
My morning duty was completed with Assistant Greenkeeper Joe Mooney. We set the first round pin positions and changed the flags for the tournament.
Joe changing the cup
Purple flags on the front 9 and white flags for the back 9
After the whole crew finished for the morning we sat down for a grand breakfast buffet provided by the restaurant and kitchen. We would then regroup at 6:30pm to get the evening jobs done.
Again I was sent out to burn in the lines on the tee boxes. The tee mowing voyage had to be rearranged in order that there is no interference with the players finishing their round.
Golfers tee shot from the Par 4 hole 8. What's more impressive than those bullets (maybe) is the shot needed to get to the fairway. It is nearly a blind shot and from a very far distance. You can barely see the fairway at the top of this photo.
The first round today ended well.
And Oh Happy Days! My hat turned up in the Lost and Found!
Lost and Found bin with a surprise right on top.
The East of Ireland Amateur tournament starts tomorrow. Today was the last day finishing course 'polish up'. Lovely sunny days and no rain throughout the week have firmed up the links very well. It will be a challenge to say the least, but if I could give any advice to the players it would be to play the links' roll.
In the morning I rolled around from hole to hole changing tee markers, filling tee divots, collecting trash and enjoying the sights. The course truly is shaping up.
I had some company on a tee box.
As I said it has been dry all week, so the whole afternoon was spent watering sodded areas. Robin Twinem and I set forth with this brilliant transportable uisce (water) supplier.
Filling up transportable tanks to irrigate sod spots
You wont find many quick couplers near the scattered sod spots, so this set up will be most efficient for getting the job done. Its no ordinary watering hose. A water pump connected to the tractors PTO allows suction from the tank and output through the watering hose.
View of PTO-drive pump, input hose (green) output hose (yellow)
The output flow can be increased or decreased by the tractor's throttle. Believe me, full throttle won't be necessary because this shoots out with force! We were able to cover each sodded area with a healthy supply of water. Though the jobs today had finished nicely, all was not well.
Robin taking over for quick photo
We were able to cover each sodded area with a healthy supply of water. Though the jobs today had finished nicely, all was not well .
The day was not perfect. A tragic loss occurred. If my Brad's Body Shop hat (from my home town of Findlay, Ohio) had not been so special to me, I would not be so devastated.
On the morning course set up I placed my hat on the empty seat beside me. Finishing the job I realized it was not on the seat nor my head. Retracing my path and asking each golf group had been unsuccessful. Still no luck in the Lost and Found but I still have hope she turns up!
Last photo taken of my Brad's Body Shop hat. The backwards hat won't help with identifying though.
On the contrary, Baltray is home to a sly fox famous for nabbing items from golfers' bags. Later I will post a blog about her. But for now Im hoping this is not an episode needing to repeat "Swiper no swiping!"
Baltray's famous fox.
Today marked the fourth day preparing Baltray for the East of Ireland Tournament. Finally, it was not spent with a string trimmer in my hand the whole afternoon!
I started off the morning with a good leg stretcher as they say, by mowing half of the tee boxes on the course. Only two workers are sent out to walk mow the tees. I think it is a good idea as we rotate among the workers for this long tee mowing adventure. Today we were burning in the lines getting them ready for the weekend.
View from the 5th tee box. Mowing bullets or lasers
The tee mowing journey was nearly 12 miles. a good leg stretcher
Supt. Paul Malone said, "Instead of leaving your wheels behind and going back, take them with you!"
Tea break is taken after the tee mowing where I get time to relax and food to refuel. The long afternoon will be spent leveling and re-shaping sand bunkers. Gerad Shevlin and I routed the course for this task.
Gerad taking this bunker on alone
The wind moves the sand up the face of the bunkers. We were taking the displaced sand and moving it back to the low spots.
Not as much play today from golfers which was great, allowing us to finish all the bunkers. With tomorrow mornings full rake they will be class for the tournament!
Again I started the morning with course set up. And yet again, another beautiful day.
View on hole 18 from the forward-most tee box
The days being so nice means everyone is out golfing. If there is a chance to be outside with the sun shining, no clouds in the sky, well, you are not going to find many Irish sitting indoors.
The difference with this week of tournament prep compared to that of the Irish Open is the course is so full with golfers. The Palmer course at the K Club was closed to golfers, making the tasks easier for the crew.
If there is a chance to be outside with the sun shining, no clouds in the sky, well, you are not going to find many Irish sitting indoors...
My afternoon task was difficult to accomplish because it was so distracting to many golfers. Today I had to string trim around yardage markers, bench seats and trash cans on all the tee boxes. There were hardly any open gaps to complete this without making a golfer stop and give you the stare-down.
The results though are great. Like I have been saying, it has been "polishing up" the course.
Before and after "strimming" the yardage markers on tees, all part of polishing the course.
I still have two more holes to complete. Again tomorrow is forecasted for another gorgeous day, so Ill make sure to complete the tees early before too much play.
The East of Ireland Amateur Tournament is hosted here at Baltray. This is the second tournament in three weeks for me this summer. The hours are different from the Irish Open, as the greens crew will be working from half six (6:30) until 5pm. The tournament round does not start until Saturday, then playing Sunday and two rounds on Monday.
Today, May 30, marked Day 1 of prep week. Golfers around the course - both members and guests - have stopped me today to say how great the course is playing. All compliments are very much appreciated. While there still is much to be done, the greenkeepers will have our regular morning duties then polishing up the golf course in the afternoon.
This was the morning view from the 14th tee box. Just turn around and you'll see the Irish Sea
In the morning I helped with course set up. Martin and I set tee markers, raked bunkers, collected rubbish (trash), filled divots on tee boxes and refilled divot bags for the golfers.
Divot bag stand.
My "polishing" duty for the afternoon was"strimming" (string trimming) bunker edges (below).
Barry Carpenter showing me how to get it done
It was a gorgeous day today, golfers covering each hole. Working around play was not easy but I still managed to jump around finishing all the bunkers on the course!
First day is done, lets see what tomorrow will have in store.
Right back to the grind at Baltray from the long week of the Irish Open. I wouldn't say I'm caught up on sleep, and upcoming next week is more tournament preparation for the East of Ireland Tournament here at County Louth. I may need a glass of Ireland's Water of Life.
Uisce Beatha is the old Irish term "Water of Life" which time plus mispronunciation has molded it in to today's word: Whiskey.
My first trip to Dublin led me to the Irish Whiskey Museum. Honestly, I was not in search of it. While wandering the streets I came across the sign so I thought I better have a look!
Upon arrival you walk down a hallway before getting to the stairs (lifts are also provided) seeing barrels of the different whiskeys. Then if you have to wait for the next tour to start, there is a lounge providing food and refreshments. The only drink I enjoyed was a hot chocolate, I promise.
The museum is interactive throughout. One of the knowledgeable staff walks you through the history of Irish whiskey. When purchasing your ticket you chose either a standard or deluxe ticket- this only implies how many tastings you receive at the end.
My Irish whiskey knowledge definitely grew and I learned many interesting facts in each room of the tour. One note is that it cannot be true whiskey until it is aged for three years and one day. And while aging, a fraction of the alcohol evaporates which is necessary to the process... this whiskey vapor ascends to the sky known as the "Angels' Share".
...while aging, a fraction of the alcohol evaporates which is necessary to the process... this whiskey vapor ascends to the sky known as the "Angels' Share".
It is also interesting learning how misspelling and mispronunciation over time created the drink name to what we know it as today. Do not be mistaken -- it was not because whiskey was drank like water.
I recommend taking this tour if you have a chance in Dublin. It is not expensive, the gift shop has good deals, and there is a wealth of knowledge to take away from it. Additionally, the taste testings at the end are a plus.
It has been almost two weeks for me at County Louth Golf Club (Baltray) settling in and becoming familiar with the green crew. Just as I'm figuring the lay out of the land, though, I head out for a week to the K Club to volunteer for the Irish Open. The crew at Baltray was kind enough to allow me to leave after such a short time, also understanding of this grand tournament opportunity.
Volunteering with the greenkeepers on a site like the K Club makes every moment a learning opportunity. Plus, being part of a crew who puts a golf course together for tournament play is very satisfying. Watching in person or on a TV you see the work put in and you can say, Hey I did that! So Im excited to see how this week will progress and the experience I will gain along the way.
The superintendent ('course manager' in Ireland), Gerry Byrne, collected me from the hotel and brought me to the maintenance facility. I was dropped off, given my mower, told who I was to follow and before I knew it I was on my first site to mow. You can say I literally hit the ground running.
My jobs for the week are to mow the intermediate rough and the tees for members and visitors. Luckily, I get to start the day on a Toro Sidewinder mowing laps around tees, fairways, bunkers and greens. The afternoon shift is when I have a stretch of the legs walk-mowing tee boxes.
The working hours for tournament preparation may be difficult, but seeing the results of the work put in sure does make it enjoyable. Bringing the golf course condition to tournament quality is important leading up to the weekend of play. I am proud to say I will be a part of the team gearing up the K Club for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open of 2016.
Ireland is nearly 12,000 square miles smaller than my home state of Ohio. The beauty that this country holds cannot be measured. By traveling inland, one can find parkland style courses like those in Ohio. But traveling to the coasts one finds the links style golf Ireland is famous for.
County Louth Golf Club (Baltray), my work and home for the next few months
County Louth Golf Club (Baltray) is located on the East coast of Ireland. Established in 1892, the formation of Baltray began with the purchase of the land off a local farmer. It was so long ago but little did those members know that the land and course would be so timeless. It is classified as a true links course; defined as the link between the sea and agricultural land.
"Links" courses got their name from being the link between sea and farmland.
Why do people travel thousands of miles to play links courses? Their historic qualities and natural difficulties can only be found in this part of the world. At parkland courses golfers face trees as obstacles. But here in Ireland there are natural hills and sand dunes that challenge play.
This type of golf course would have to be designed and constructed in the U.S., whereas here on Irelands coast, this piece of land is completely natural. Experiencing the truly natural terrain is necessary for any golfer who embraces the beauty of this game.
This true links style course can offer a most enjoyable play to any handicap. On the other hand, it proposes championship difficulty to the worlds best golfers. It not only ranks top 10 in Ireland, but it consistently ranks among the top courses in the world.
I have been here just over a week but I have great appreciation for this special place that will be my work and home for the next few months. Perfectly described, County Louth Golf Club is the Hidden Gem of Irish Golf.
My name is Nathan McKinniss. I am a fourth-year student in the Sustainable Plant Systems major program at the Ohio State University with a specialization in Turfgrass Science. I will be finishing my last courses required for my major and minor in Agribusiness in Autumn 2016.
While many look forward to graduation, I'm happy to be returning for another semester... which I may even turn into another full year. There are still many classes I am interested in taking to sharpen my turfgrass knowledge. One more year would also mean one more Turf Bowl competition.
The Turf Bowl is a competition sponsored by GCSAA at the Golf Industry Show. The turf club here at OSU puts together a team of four and this year will be my second time competing. I've been in Turf Club for three years and currently I hold the treasurer position.
The 2016 Ohio State Turf Bowl Team.
Aside from the turf club, I have interned for two summers at Brookside Golf & Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. There I have gained experience in the field under three great bosses, including the superintendent, Carl Wittenaur. I also work during the school year in the clubhouse with the Food and Beverage Department gaining a rounded knowledge of golf club operations. I have also worked at golf courses in my home town of Findlay, Ohio.
The second hometown course I worked at had the biggest impact on me as I helped with all maintenance activities except spraying chemicals. With the owner, Scott Malloy, PGA, I learned some of my first tricks of the trade, which were incomparable to how much I learned about myself.
The two courses in Ohio where I worked, and their proximity to my home
My uncle, Ben Taylor, played a large part as to why I am in this profession. Uncle Ben is the superintendent who I first worked for. From gigging frogs to picking up trash then washing golf carts, I started from scratch with him. From that I grew into wanting to know as much as possible about this industry.
I am interning internationally this summer in Ireland at a gem of a golf course, County Louth Golf Club -- or Baltray, as it is locally known. My excitement cannot be measured, and my gratitude is even greater! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I hope to return home with the experience of managing a links-type golf course plus the course preparations of tournament play from both the East of Ireland Championship at Baltray and the Irish Open at the K Club.
This opportunity would not be possible if it had not been for Mike O'Keeffe, director of The Ohio Program, which places students (both outbound and inbound) in green industry internships around the world. I am easy to persuade, however going out of the country for the first time might not have been easy to convince me of; but of course, Mike O'Keeffe succeeded with ease!
My excitement cannot be measured, and my gratitude is even greater!
Mr. O'Keeffe then introduced me to Jon Kiger from TurfNet and encouraged me to apply for this internship. After a couple emails and phone calls I was thrilled with the good news of securing the intern position! Writing these blog posts is part of the internship requirement, which I want to give a big thank you to Jacobsen as a sponsor of the blog, and to TOCA for helping with the costs.
Welcome to the 2016 edition of Greenkeeping, the Next Generation. Since 2012 TurfNet has placed an American turf student on a golf course in Ireland for the Summer. Mt. Juliet and Lahinch have hosted TurfNet interns in the past. This year we are thrilled to bring the program to County Louth Golf Club (aka Baltray) under the direction of longtime course manager Paul Malone. Paul has regularly welcomed our previous interns to Baltray for a look around and a round of golf. Baltray was also enjoyed last October during the TurfNet Members Trip to Ireland.
This year's intern is Nate McKinniss - a senior at The Ohio State University and a native of Findlay, Ohio. Nate is our second intern from Ohio State (Peter Braun in 2014 was the other) and this is his first time out of the country.
This year TurfNet is partnering with the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) and Nate will receive additional financial support as TurfNet's first TOCA media intern. We also appreciate Jacobsen's ongoing sponsorship of the blog.
Please join me in welcoming Nate to the TurfNet editorial team and check back here as he shares his experiences on and off the course this summer.
Nate will be part of Team TurfNet Irish Open, a volunteer crew of five from the US who will assist in preparations for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the K Club later in May.
Special thanks to Baltray General Manager Liam Murphy and Ohio State's Mike O'Keeffe for their assistance with Nate's application efforts and preparing him for his summer in Ireland.
Learn more about County Louth Golf Club in the following video: