A SCORE BY THE TAIL
We arrived in Donegal very late on Tuesday night so Kevin could play a practice round at Donegal Golf Club on Wednesday morning. His idea of a “holiday” is playing in the Ulster Seniors, which started today. When the ominous morning came, I went out at 10.04 with him and another competitor from Dun Laoire, but came in to the clubhouse at the turn. The play was painfully slow and when the menacing clouds down poured for the third time, I sought shelter. It was certainly a day when you could experience all four seasons in your backswing.
Along with a bite to eat, I availed myself of the small booklet in the golf shop commemorating the 50th anniversary of Murvagh (1959-2009) as it is often referred to —and have now increased my geekiness by a significant margin. I learned that when Eddie Hackett (1910-1996) was commissioned in 1973 to lay out this course on a 180 acre tract, for the modest fee of £200, he cleverly used Muirfield as a model, with the front nine running counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the peninsula, and the back nine forming an inner clockwise loop.
Hackett, ever modest himself, was known to say: “I found that nature is the best architect, I just dress up what the Good Lord provides.”
It was the highly esteemed Pat Ruddy who was hired in the mid 1990s to make some changes over the next few years, and we did see him arrive yesterday to play in the tournament as well. I had actually discovered a couple of days before while reading in the “Official Golf Guide” for 2010, published by the Irish Tourist Board, that some redesign at Enniscrone was taken on by the “late Pat Ruddy,” so we had a good laugh when the “late” Pat Ruddy arrived in his customary good humor.
If it were not for the unfavorable conditions, I might never have learned that the Irish Hare is Ireland’s fastest mammal and they live in nests called “forms.” And did you know that the badger is Ireland’s largest carnivore? They live in underground tunnel systems called “setts,” The starter on the first tee warned us of a pesky resident badger who had been tearing up turf and sure enough we saw evidence of his nocturnal activity on the 16th tee.
Perhaps the keen horticulturist and common golfer alike, will be amused to know that included in the 50 species of wildflowers found here on the seaside links at Murvagh are: Sneeze Wort, Dog Violet, Common Vetch, Devil’s Bit Scabious, Yellow Rattle and Bladder Campion.
But the most interesting species of all is the bag-carrying-or-trolley-pushing-ball-chasing-two-legged-golf-obsessed mammal who will travel great distances all over the world to play the most challenging game known to man. Both Kevin and one other playing partner today carded 79, missing a few putts by inches, to rob them each of a more magical number—Tony lamenting, “ I had a score by the tail.”