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Property prices still crazy October 27, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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Property prices are still crazy in this country – I don’t care what anyone says !

While reading through one of the property supplements this week, my eye was caught by a tiny advert regarding a plot of land available in the town of Enniscrone, Co.Sligo. Now just having come back from there (playing golf), I was interested even more.

But wait for it ! The plot of land, allbeit facing the sea and with a wonderful view over Kilalla Bay, was only .3 of an acre. Yes – point 3. That’s roughly seventy feet square – or even less maybe.

The price ? A whopping and equally shocking …. € 1.2 million ! Would whoever owns this land kindly get a reality check.

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Golf in Sligo – a review September 27, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish, Sports.
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I have recently returned from hacking significant bits of carefully laid turf out of three of Co.Sligo’s more renowned golf courses. Family members and various hangers on have, over the past 5 years or so, made a tradition out of visiting some of the most famous and talked about golf courses in these islands and making bits of them ! We are an enthusiastic bunch of golfers on the hunt for a good course, a few pints and a nice setting for our competition.

This year it was the turn of Co.Sligo (aka Rosses Point), Enniscrone and Castle Dargan.

Co.Sligo – also referred to as Rosses Point.
This was by far the most windy day we played and I had heard of Co.Sligo numerous times before, as the Irish Close Championships, the West of Ireland etc. had been and are played here on a fairly regular basis.

I have to say I was slightly disappointed with this course. It’s not your typical links, being quite flat and open. There are some great holes, especially at the start and end of the course, but overall there was a few too many same type holes on the links for me. The greens were in good enough order, quite true but by no means like lightning. The wind will always be more of a factor here more than anything else.

The highlight of this course for me was the par 5 3rd hole, complete with landing area and bail out for the sissies … the type of hole you only know the line of, when you’ve played it a couple of times. The par 5 5th has a 100 foot drop from tee to fairway which really messes up your perspective and makes a par a good score. As with all links, if you stray even 1 foot off the fairway, you are in 4 feet high, thick whins and dune grass – forget about it !

Overall, with a green fee of €55, good showers and dressing rooms etc. we were very satisfied with the course – it just did nothing for me, despite playing it reasonably well.

Enniscrone
Day 2 was on to the wonderful links that is Enniscrone. I can honestly say that this course ranks up there with the best I’ve played, in terms of quality, condition and scenery – but it will batter the shit out of you. And the wind didn’t even blow the day we played. I think most links golf courses are relatively really unfair and this one is no exception. Hit your tee shot a couple of yards offline and your ball and score is dead – period ! On the 200 yard par 3 3rd – a lovely hole – my shot went 6 feet left of the pin and over a dune into what can only be described as an abyss of misery, gorse and 150 feet of a drop. End of !

There are some fantastic holes on this course with some fantastic options for braver men than me … but, as I suppose all top courses are, it is unbelievably punishing. I mean how many average handicappers do you know who can put the ball down the middle every time. Even when I did that the run off was severe if you over hit it or under hit it – put it this way – it presents you with thoughts on the tee that the average golfer never has to face. How far to hit a driver, for instance. Whether to draw it or fade it when you can comfortably do neither. To hack out and take your punishment or send it over that dune and see what happens because you need to score on that hole. Except when you hack out it goes 3 feet further into the rough because a farmer with a scythe couldn’t even reach the ball !

It has terrifying rough – tall and stout dune grass than catches your club and forces the ball to come out with a flier … the greens were very good, much better than Co.Sligo and a stern test. And furthermore, there is not a flat lie on the course – the ball is always above or slightly below your feet and you need to be confident in your striking. I am not surprised that there were guys in our party who didn’t break 15 points for the full round.

Overall, the facilities are good but not great. Older and more historic clubhouses tend not to be too modern. At €60 it’s a course I would love to play again because now I have more of an idea how to play it. As far as our competition went, for the third year running I blew out on a tough links, putting me out of touch with victory. Be prepared to love it and to hate it at the same time.

Castle Dargan
This is Darren Clarke’s latest course and came as a welcome relief to those of us who were sick of hacking our way around dunes and gorse bushes.  This is  fabulously laid out parkland course with some testing water holes.  The wind blows like made here too.

They have a real problem with drainage on this course and it’s a shame because the fairways are now serrated with drainage lines.  It will come in time, I suppose.  My favourite here are the par 5 6th which is short enough to go for in 2 with the problem being a tricky 170 yard carry over a lake into the wind to make the green.  Went for it I did, of course, made the bank before the green and fell back into the water !  Bastards !

There is also a lovely par 4 hole – the 14th I think – which is only 20 yards long but built in such a way that the green is all carry and a fade is required between 2 bunkers to run it up to the green.  Water on the right means that you can’t lash at it.

This was the course I played best on and that’s because there’s no whins or dune grass !  The dressing rooms are a little disappointing with timed showers but at 5 you can’t really go wrong.  It has a nice looking hotel too … despite the smokers.

So Sligo, a bit remote but a good place to golf for a few days.

The downside of the smoking ban September 25, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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Regular readers will have noticed a distinct lull in the usual flurry of blog-worthy activity around these parts over the last week – but fear not ! The Rambling Man has come home to roost. It suffices to say that the golf courses of Sligo are thankful !

One of the more standout things I noticed while on holiday at the other end of the country was the unfortunate similarities that exist when it comes to the smoking ban. Even amid breathtakingly stunning scenery and hordes of UK and American tourists, there are a multitude of horrible, stinking, overflowing and rancid cigarette butt buckets adorning the outsides of even the most luxurious hotels.

One of the days we played here – a new 4 star and quite impressive hotel, golf course and wellness * centre; complete with 350 guests at the biggest Scouse/Irish wedding this side of the Shannon had ever seen. And this brought with it hordes of smokers only dying (sorry!) to get outside and have a fag. Suffice to say that the outside of this hotel could well have done without (a) the strings of people creating a huge plume of stale smoke (b) the rancid bucket of fag ends and horrible looking sand that was outside and (c) the two loud and loutish women hanging out the window of their bedroom, fag in hand making the whole place look like a bit of a Carry On film … Lovely place other than that !

S o can anyone think of a good way of enforcing the smoking ban outside ? Most people seem happy enough to go outside and not smoke indoors but in Ireland this has given rise to a new pseudo-smoking industry, whereby the front of many an attractive hotel, guesthouse, bar etc. has been taken down a notch or three by the remnants of someones Marlboro Light fix …

It just ain’t right !

* what does wellness mean ?  I’m off to the hotel for some wellness … sounds like an arty-farty word to me