NCGA Golf

Fall 2018

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Irish Eyes Shine Bright on the Linksland of the Emerald Isle BY ADAM SCHUPAK He actually ticked off seven, but who was counting? The Emerald Isle may be only the size of Indiana, but it feels like every hamlet is home to a golf course, and you'll get little dispute that it counts several of the finest tests of golf anywhere on the planet. I had journeyed across the pond once before for a grand golf boon- doggle with my father. On that occasion, we crisscrossed parts of Ireland and Northern Island to play 11 courses in 10 days. My water proofs got a daily workout and I wore a ski cap to brace myself against unpredictable conditions including hold-on-to-your hat or hairpiece level winds and a brief hail storm that made putting more difficult than understanding my caddie's Irish brogue. And yet, it still ranks as my all-time favorite trip. I fell hard for links golf, a term for courses near the water that literally link the sea to the rest of the land. There are usually few trees, few American- style hazards, and often little green grass. It is a reminder of what the game was in its earliest and purest form, played on rock-hard fairways filled with quirky bounces, blind shots that require aiming at a white- painted rock or taking a line over a church steeple or a smoke stack in the distance, or maybe even a sheep standing on a hill. To sample the wind- blown, sometimes wild links golf courses that dot the Irish coast requires O nce, during an interview with Ireland's Padraig Harrington, I asked the three-time major winner to name his five favorite courses in his native land. He took a pregnant pause, thought about it, and said, "Can I give you six?" CHRIS HILL PHOTOGRAPHIC FOR TOURISM IRELAND

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