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The Emerald Greens: Golfing in Ireland

Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 1)

On the second hole, he caught my attention and tweaked my imagination as I lined up a short pitch shot.

As I took a practice swing, Martin inquired, to my astonishment: "Do you see that bunker there right this moment?"

My rather stupefied answer was a question: "Martin, is it going to move?"

"Oh, no, no, no," said Martin. "I mean, are you ah seein' that bunker right in front of you?"

"Well, yes, I do see it now."

"Just play your shot over the left edge and let it hit on the far left side of the green. Don't hit it too hard or she'll pop over to the back. There's plenty of break to the right once she hits the green."

And so it went that day, with Martin having a club suggestion, a line suggestion, a swing suggestion on almost every shot while at the same time not being intrusive. Martin Lawless managed to climb into my head every bit as much as beautiful Baltray was climbing into my heart.

Particularly striking were the 12th through the 15th holes. At the 12th you are nearest the Irish Sea, though you still cannot see it. A large dune wall down the right side of the 12th and 13th blocks the view, though waves can be heard breaching on the beach if there is a freshening breeze. The 12th plays downhill from the tee, then uphill to the green through dunes pinching tightly on the left and right. Even from the middle of the fairway the green looks no larger than a slice of toast. It's an intimidating shot to say the least.

The 13th plays straight away down a narrowing fairway to a well-guarded green. The 14th is a short, 338-yard hole that is long on character, the lumpy fairway and its uphill shot to the green calling for something more than mediocre play. The 150-yard par-3 15th has a narrow, sloping green that is hard to hit and can be even harder to putt.

I wish the final two holes had a bit more character in them. They are much more heath-land than links-land, with very little movement to them. Still, the preceding holes have been so surprising in both their challenge and their variety that merely average golf holes at the finish are disappointing in their adequacy.


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