Six friends of mine and I arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland, late Saturday morning. We played Portstewart that afternoon with Kevin Markham—who has played every eighteen-hole course in Ireland and written an extremely useful guide to them all, called Hooked—and the next day we played two rounds at Royal Portrush, where the Irish Open will be held in June. Then we drove to Ballyliffin, where we played both the new course (which is called the Glashedy, after a big rock off the coast) and the old course (which is called the Old Course). So far, all four courses we’ve played on this trip are our favorite.
We shared the the Old Course with the ladies of Ballyliffin, who were playing a match against the ladies of Narin & Portnoo (where we’re headed tomorrow, after two rounds at Portsalon). The ladies turned down our offer to caddie for them, and/but they were victorious anyway, and they let us hang around with them in the clubhouse afterward, while they celebrated. Ballyliffin is just about the friendliest place we’ve ever been, except for all the other places we’ve been in Ireland. And this morning, when we got up, both courses—which I could see from the window of my hotel room, at the Strand—were covered in fog. That’s the clubhouse on the right, in the photo below.