They laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round, they giggled at the Wright Brothers when they mooted the idea that Man could fly, and they smirked at the actor when he asked random people to e-mail him for a game of golf to be reported in a blog. ?Let?s face it George? they said ?no one in their right mind would do that.?
Well ladies and gentlemen, the earth is round, today flying is an everyday affair, and thanks to G.M. reader Hugh Logan (Not entirely sure he?s totally in his right mind) this blog can finally be used for its original purpose.
Hugh invited me to make a four with him, his son, and long time friend Sam at his home course Belvoir (pronounced Beaver for some bizarre reason) Park a couple of miles outside Belfast. My digs (No Sky, No Golf Channel, No good) are in the city centre but a 25 minute taxi ride was all it took to get there. The entrance to the car park is simply a narrow gap in a wall, so from the road you have no idea that a golf course exists.
I was slightly early so, as is my want, I went for a quick snoop in the Pro?s shop. Here I was greeted by a young assistant called Gary. Every club should have a Gary. He automatically put me at my ease, showed me where everything was and generally made feel extremely welcome. Being a visitor to a new club can sometimes be a daunting experience, not so at Belvoir.
Hugh and the others arrived soon after and from the opening exchanges it was clear this was going to be a fun day.
?So what?s your handicap?? asked Hugh
?4? I replied having recently come down. (Fergus Bisset watch out.)
?Jesus? exclaimed Sam ?that?s my handicap per hole.?
The handicaps were in fact Hugh-24, Phil-24, Sam-18, so multiple shots were handed out to all.
The first, a short par-4, set the tone for the round. Phil slices his ball in to the timber, Hugh, his partner, duffs one down the middle. I pull my opening drive in to the left hand rough, and only Sam redeems the group with a good drive down the middle. And so the banter begins.
Sam: Phil, if you meet Little Red Ridinghood in those woods, be sure to warn her about the Big Bad Wolf.
Phil: I?ll have you know I am the Big Bad Wolf.
Hugh: He gets that from his mother.
With strong Belfast accents, the three of them have me in stitches the entire game. Normally the actor is expected to provide some entertainment during the round, especially popular is my rendition of ?Don?t take a wood Ballesteros? sung to the tune of ?Don?t cry for me Argentina? but with these three I didn?t get a look in.
Their golf, unfortunately, was not of a similar standard, a par being as rare as a Mike Harris blog entry. With the actor playing rather well, and despite a spirited fight back from Phil on the last, the front, back and match were all wrapped up in favour of the actor and his partner Sam. Certainly no one could accuse these boys of banditry, indeed their generosity in life was shown through their golf, treating their handicaps as a form of philanthropy.
After the match we retired to the club house for an excellent meal and a chance to be entertained further by Sams jokes. (A majority of which are unprintable in a family blog such as this)
As for the course I have one question. How come I haven?t heard about it before? It?s an astonishing example of parkland golf, with narrow fairways and greens to rival any I have played. The gentle opening hole lulls you in to a false sense of security, the second slightly harder. But when you reach the third, a 435 yard par 4 dog leg, up-hill, you know you?re in for a tough challenge. There?s not a bad hole on the course, from the short par-3 8th (137 yards but to a heavily bunkered green) to my favourite the 463 yard 12th, a par-4 of such class it ranks amongst the best holes I?ve played.
This is a Championship course without a championship event, however this is about to change. With a new clubhouse under construction, and subtle changes being made to the course, Belvoir Park is set to become one of the premier golfing destinations in the country. But for now it remains one of Irelands best kept secrets, if I were you I?d get here quick while there?s still an available tee time. I for one can?t wait for the return match next week.
I love my life
If Chicago is coming to a theatre near you, and you fancy a game with a slightly eccentric, but very well mannered actor, then get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ensuing events and my thoughts on your course will then be posted in that weeks blog. Also needed are more golfing translations, you can send these in to the same address.
Gay Brewer- A happy publican
Net Score- A method employed by desperate singletons.