I wasn’t exactly full of hope when I teed my ball up on a hole called ‘Calamity Corner’ last summer. The only pleasant thing I remember about the 14th hole at Royal Portrush was the view. And, so, my expectations were fulfilled as I dumped my tee shot into the longest, thickest rough I’d ever seen.
The Dunluce course at Portrush would provide even the most complete golfer with a stern test. Tiger Woods, arguably the most complete golfer, supposedly hacked his way around with a score of 81. I’d say he was well tested by the only course in Ireland to host The Open Championship, albeit back in 1951.
Having spent nearly all of my summers in Portrush, I knew the golf course well, even intimately, but this was the first time I’d dared to venture onto the perfectly manicured fairways. With the glorious clubhouse looming over me, as well as my rather portly great-uncle, a former captain, I caressed the ball straight down the middle of the first fairway.
Unfortunately my game deteriorated faster than the weather and so we had to briefly take cover from a squall that was almost as frightening as the rough, after I performed a particularly atrocious shank. The inclement weather was all part of the experience, however, and so we eventually soldiered on, as did pretty much all of the other die-hard members of this great club.
I perked up somewhat towards the end of my round as the clubhouse reappeared on the horizon. However, my short drives didn’t really bring the final fairway bunkers into play and so I stayed out of trouble on the closing stretch.
The 5th is probably the most famous hole on the course as the green is perched on the top of the sand dunes. The result is an extraordinary view over the sea towards Donegal which imposes a strange aura over any first-timers. At least, that’s my excuse for missing a simple 3-footer there.
Betting: Northern Trust Open betting guide ; Johnnie Walker Classic betting guide
Equipment reviews: Hybrids under £100
Notice board: Pro-Celebrity golf aids Victorian bushfires Red Cross appeal
Gallery: Castle Stuart Golf Links pictures