Golf Article

Ireland a Golfers First Round on Lahinch

Playing Lahinch Golf Course: One Golfers Experience

By Peter Hellman , Classic GOLF Tours


It was a thinly hit five iron on the 9th hole that solved one of our problems -- the Postmasters dog.   It was an accident, of course, but the results of my Titlest against the pooches hindquarters had the affect of chasing the thieving dog off the course and home to the Lahinch Post Office where he belonged. 


This was my first visit to Lahinch.  It was November of 1985 and as guests of the Irish Tourist Board, I was part of a group of travel industry types invited to play the mighty Lahinch Golf Course.  The course is located in the town of Lahinch, which is about an hours drive northwest of the Shannon Airport.  (This modern international airport is the golfers gateway to Irelands Southwest collection of great golf course.)  The day was to offer much more than we had expected.  However, before I tell you all about that, let me tell you a bit about the course itself.


In the 1890s officers of the famous Scottish Black Watch Regiment stationed in nearby Limerick came upon this vast area of dunes now known as Lahinch.  With the help of members of the Limerick Golf Club, they laid out the original course and opened it for play in 1892.  In 1894, Scottish golfer and designer Old Tom Morris was invited to come to Lahinch and improve the course.  With the improvements in place, Tom Morris exclaimed that Lahinch was among the best courses in the United Kingdom and the finest natural course he had ever seen.  In 1927, Dr. Alister Mackenzie came to Lahinch to redesign the back nine and move it to the sand side of the road along side the front nine.  Mackenzie designed some of the worlds most renowned golf courses such as Pebble Beach and Augusta National.  Unfortunately, much of what Mackenzie designed changed in the 1930s, but an effort started in 1999 to bring back the course to its old glory has now been completed and the course belongs on any serious golfers list of must plays. 


Now let us get back to the story.  We were all prepared with the knowledge that rain was not only a possibility, but a probability this time of year.  Though I felt comfortable in my Sutherland rain gear it was no match for the weather we were about to face.  It was cold!  It was wet!  It was windy!  However, backing out of the game and retreating to the clubhouse fire was not really an option.  We were guests, for Gods sake, and our hosts showed no inclination to cancel the event. 


Teeing off with my group, I soon realized that the weather was not only going to influence my game, it would control it.  I tend to hit a high shot - I had not learned the Irish way of hitting low runners yet - and the wind pushed and pulled my ball in whatever direction it favored.  Fairways were not areas that my ball found those first few holes.  With the weather as it was, we were fortunate to have caddies to guide us to our balls and over the first few almost invisible holes.  These people must have been paid a mighty sum to caddy that day, but an occasional expression seemed to betray a personal thought that even that princely sum was not enough.  


When finally the holes turned to the sea and directly into the wind, I regained some control though my distance suffered.  This was truly my first opportunity to keep my ball in the fairway.  As I savored my fellow golfers praise, I spotted what looked like a wolf creeping out from behind a sand dune.  The animal lopped over to my ball, calmly sniffed it, picked it up in his mouth and headed for the heavy salt grasses lining the fairway.  Once well into the rough, he dropped the ball and disappeared again into the high dunes.  This game was repeated every time I hit my ball in the fairway.  If I hit it into the rough, the interloper ignored it.  Shouts and curses did nothing to dissuade the animal from his game.  It was one of our caddies who, in answer to a questions about the animal, informed us that this was Benny the postmasters dog and that this was what Benny loved to do when things got boring at the Post Office.  It should be noted, that "Benny" favored foreigners and that once he selected the golf ball for his game; the player's scent brought him back to that ball and only that ball. 


Wet, cold and slightly discouraged by the wind and Benny, our foursome was greeted by our hosts on the 9th tee with life giving shots of Bushmill Irish Whiskey.  It must have been the warming glow of the Bushmill that took my attention away from my swing, causing me to hit my ball thin and into Bennys rear.  His sharp yelp and speedy dash home meant that todays game was over.  I have not heard whether Benny still thinks the game fun. 


By the way, the weather kept pounding us, but we all finished and still talk about our experience to this day.  In fact, in another 20 years, the story might be even better.