It's amazing what a simple email can do. Just a small electronic note started the communication that led to the single best day I've had in Ireland thus far.
Part of my plan while I'm here is to see more of Ireland's golf courses. I had heard a lot of buzz about Old Head of Kinsale, on the south coast just past Cork. Jon Kiger had told me that TurfNet had previously visited there, and said that the staff at the club was very nice and welcoming. So, I emailed the superintendent, Neil Deasy, to see if I could conduct a small interview with him and tour some of the facilities at the course. Within a short time, we had a date scheduled for myself and my colleague Alan to visit.
When you crest the hill overlooking the peninsula that is Old Head, your jaw drops. Anyone who has ever been here will know what I mean. Incredibly dramatic. As you drive up, you immediately see huge cliffs on either side of the course, and the ocean all around. I was in awe, to say the least.
From the time we pulled our clubs out of the car, Alan and I were treated like kings for the rest of the day. Every single staff member at Old Head, from the bag drop attendant to the starter, to Neil, to the bartender in the clubhouse, was as friendly as you could imagine, truly living up to the Irish standard.
Alan and I met Neil in the clubhouse, and from there made our way to the maintenance facility. Straight away, I noticed the shop was very tidy and well organized. This seemed to be a theme at the Head. Everything in the right place, from mowers in the shop to the greens on the course. We saw all the buildings and chatted a little about the course and the challenges it poses.
Due to the location, wind and salt can really wreak havoc. Neil explained that wind from the southeast had been plaguing them as of late. There was no way of eliminating it, so they have to work with it. Keep moisture levels up in the turf that gets the brunt of the breeze, flush greens when needed, and in some cases, replace greens. With the location comes a great responsibility to maintain a good stand of turf.
After our tour, we got out onto the course, and for four hours it was like I was in another world.
Not only did I play the best golf I have played all summer, but the course was spectacular. The greens were really consistent, and in great shape for the intense heat and drought we've been having for the last two weeks.
Hole #12 at Old Head of Kinsale
After we finished up, we got a pint in the clubhouse and sat out on the deck that overlooked the course. It was difficult to leave. I've played some dramatic course in the states, but Old Head Golf Links was by far the most spectacular layout I've ever been on. Pair that with the warm reception from the staff there and the incredible hospitality extended to us from Neil, our trip to Kinsale was more than I could have ever dreamed of. I got to play an amazing course and talk turf with a true professional.
If you make the trip to Ireland and you play golf, you need to experience The Old Head of Kinsale.