Dancing with Druids in the Glen

This trip to Ireland was dominated by the two very different, very beautiful and very beguiling courses at the Druids Glen Hotel and Golf Resort in Newtownmountkennedy Co Wicklow. With something for everyone – a full service spa, swimming pool and spill proof restaurant on-site, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking in the Wicklow hills near by, Druids Glen is well suited for those who enjoy the outdoors with a large helping of relaxed elegance.

My beloved brother and gracious host, Ted, discovered the Druids Glen when he and his family moved to near-by Greystones. With twin boys, Ted spends his days riding herd on two high energy three year olds. The swimming pool, on the Heath side of the resort, is one of Ted’s preferred play-time destinations. He was itching for the opportunity to play golf the iconic Druid Glen course.

Conor, the overseer of the fully stocked pro shop, collected our greens fees, sold us some extra balls and the course guide (essential – do not tee off without it) and sent us off to the first tee with a smile and suggestions on whiskeys to sample. He was particularly keen on two new releases by Jameson.

druid glen 2

The Course Guide – Don’t Leave the Pro Shop without It

Our outing started innocently enough. The first two holes were manageable, but the slippery green on 2, the road hole, foreshadowed what was to come. What followed was a series of challenges – blind tee shots, sinister bunkers, variegated greens – long, uphill shots; steep downhill drives, and, then, water. On the 8th hole water comes dramatically into play (“I say, is that a swan in the water hazard?”). Crossing the swinging bridge on 9, I half expected a troll to emerge and challenge our crossing.

At the turn we stopped for lunch. Woodstock House, built in 1770 by a son of the Earl of Aldborough, is now the clubhouse for the Glen course, so the grill room came by it’s gentlemen’s club vibe naturally. Sitting in our wing chairs at a table by the window, we could just make out the Irish Sea on the horizon. Sandwiches, burgers and a full dinners were on the menu and the bar offered abundant options. We opted for short Smithwicks Red Ale, club sandwiches and chicken wings. The wings were served with finger bowls – that’s how fancy this place is. Thus refreshed, we pushed on.

The mystery deepens on the back half. Here, the game not as much played upon the grounds of the Woodstock Estate, as it is absorbed landscaping dating to the 1600s. It is mesmerizing and diabolically difficult, (so much so that Druids Glen hosted the Irish Open from 1996 through 1999.) Designed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock, this classic parkland course pushes boundaries.  A good bit of fantasy is very much in play in the hollows of Druids Glen.

Countdown to Ireland

It’s another beautiful Spring day, and I’m on track to play nine again this afternoon.

Last week, between the weather and errands (getting kids to doctor appointments and glasses fitting, grocery shopping, my dental appointment and the seemingly unending cycle of laundry.) I only got out once last week. (Friday was my second loop around FPGC this season). Rain is forecast for tomorrow (so I’ll have a crack at completing mid-week errands without wasting good weather!) Thursday & Friday both look promising.

countdown to Ireland

All this golf leading up to our trip to Ireland and yes, I’m taking my clubs and yes, it’s going to be epic, and not necessarily because I’ll be playing legendary courses – although that may happen, who knows?

This trip – out on Saturday evening, arrive at 5 am Easter Sunday morning at Shannon Airport/back on Friday, five days later – a quick hop, with the primary objective of delivering a set of golf clubs to my brother, Ted. Growing up on the country club coast of Connecticut, Ted played a lot growing up, and played quite well. Somewhere between college in the mid-West, moving to Seattle and then Europe (Prague, Munich, Paris and now Greystones, Wicklow County, in the Republic of Ireland) he lost track of his clubs.

I shopped the clubs to within an inch of their lives and found a set of used Walter Hagen hybrids and irons for $25 on Craig’s List. I traded cash with Don beside his car across the street the L Street bathhouse in South Boston on a very cold Saturday morning in January. And yes, I was struck by how the exchange has the look and feel of a drug buy.

As Ted is a full on stay at home dad, supporting his C-level working for a Fortune 500 company wife, with two twin boys just north of toddler-hood, he faces the daily challenge of putting 20 consecutive minutes together to take a shower. A round of golf requires monumental planning; even a trip to the near-by driving range needs co-ordination and bit of luck. Should our luck fail, however, I do have a backup plan. And it is my backup plan that is epic – it is the stuff that legends (at least family legends) are made of. Trust me! If you’re a primary parent and trying to balance golf and life you’re going to want to know what I’m bringing to Ireland for Ted’s Epic Easter Morning surprise.

The Lazy Hollow Invitational 2017

The nor ‘easter that passed through last week makes for great spring skiing, but slammed the breaks on the start of the golf season. The course at Fresh Pond is far from playable – opening day is at least a week away. As luck and a positive cash flow would have it, I’ve booked on a flight to Orlando early Wednesday morning. Mom is turning 80, so we’re celebrating at her lovely home, which is just off the ninth fairway, in a place where it is sunny and 80 degrees.

Since Mom moved to Florida in 2013, we’ve held the Lazy Hollow Invitational – an exclusive,  multi-day, mother/daughter event with a simple format – multiple rounds of stroke play with lots of gimmes and mulligans, followed by cocktails on the lanai, steaks medium rare, classic movies on the big screen, and your choice of ice cream.

The trip is simple – Uber/curb check clubs/non stop BOS to MCO/pick up clubs and car and roll up the road to the country club. Packing isn’t complicated – a couple of polo shirts and a skort, espadrilles and a silk scarf should the need to dress up arise.

I brought the cart bag up from the basement. In one of the pockets there were four old gloves – stiff and dry, and smelling of leather and sunblock. Ready…