I'm a firm believer in getting to your overseas destination a little early. In addition to being able to adjust to the time zone, I planned to show David Escobedo a little of Ireland before we were stationed for the week in Portstewart.
This past Wednesday afternoon David and I met at New York's JFK Airport for our 10:45 PM overnight flight to Shannon. The flight was just over 5 1/2 hours which left little time for sleep once we were settled in... plus David had already had a 5-hour flight from Phoenix to JFK, so we were running on fumes.
Thursday morning we went straight at it, picking up our "hired" car (an Opel Insignia) and driving immediately to Lahinch Golf Club in nearby County Clare. We met up with Head Course Manager Brian McDonagh at the maintenance facility. Brian hosted our TurfNet Student Intern Eric Bruening in 2015.
Just after we arrived at Lahinch, Giles McDonagh (no relation to Brian) from Tacit Golf arrived in response to Brian's request. Giles' van is best described as a mini-Lesco truck. It housed a variety of commonly used accessories and samples of flags, etc. David even had a look at their innovative Shole Hammer Hole Cutter.
David checks out the Shole Hammer Hole Cutter as demonstrated by Giles McDonagh.
Brian took David on a tour of the golf course at Lahinch, which just celebrated its 125th anniversary. He was excited to see a true links course near the ocean. It was truly carved from the sand dunes in the late 1890s with very little changed in the overall layout. Some surfers were even braving the cold waters in the requisite wetsuits.
One of Eric Bruening's photos during his internship at Lahinch in 2015.
While David toured the course with Brian, I met with Pat Geaney of Geaney & O'Neill, Ltd. - distributors of Tru-Turf and other brands of professional turf care equipment in Ireland. Pat was originally a diesel mechanic and over thirty years ago decided to sell the products in addition to servicing them. He is based in County Cork (about two hours south of Lahinch) and had already made an equipment delivery in Waterford in the SE.
Pat has seen the makeup of golf course fleets change dramatically in the 30+ years he has been in the business. He had a front row seat for the evolution from a few tractor-driven gang mowers to the variety of specialty equipment available today. Pat estimates he works 14-hour days and works seven days a week in season. In addition to the professional lines of equipment he has a few retail lines that sell out of bricks and mortar locations in Cork and Waterford.
Pat Geaney (left) visits with Brian McDonagh at Lahinch.
I recorded a full podcast interview of our visit. Listen to learn more about operating a golf course equipment business in Ireland, and the state of the golf economy in Ireland.
After our visit to Lahinch we stopped by the Cliffs of Moher so David could see this natural wonder. He will report on his experiences there in his own blog post. After the Cliffs we continued our drive north to play some golf at Galway Bay Golf Resort. More on our visit there in my next post.