This article was written by the CEO of ClickitGolf – Jeff is an avid golfer, golf enthusiast, and one hell of a business partner.
In this article, we walk you through the type of golf trip that enforces that coveted father /son relationship, moreover, the kind of trip that can significantly change lives and relationships forever. I assume we have your attention… Great, Mission #1 accomplished ✅ – Keep reading to see how it all went down!
In all honesty, and after some reflection, I am doing this as much for me as I am for you, my readers, so THANK YOU! I will truly re-live this trip and the memories we made every time I read this piece. Also, unselfishly, I hope it inspires… Inspires you to do something similar with someone special in your life sooner than later. It doesn’t have to be golf – it can be hiking, camping, tennis, pickleball – shoot – pick your narrative really! Whatever your heart desires, make it happen – it will undoubtedly bring you closer to someone you share a similar passion with. So… In the words of Phil Knight… “Just Do It”.
It seems these days we blink and another year goes by. You know what they say…each day wasted, is one that we can never get back. With that, I decided that this was our Summer. It was weird how it happened. We looked at each other after dinner one night, and as if we both had an out-of-body experience mind melt, we just knew It was on! Furthermore, my ClickiGolf partner had been pushing me to do it and thought our readers might enjoy experiencing it right along with us. So we did, we kept a journal and took pictures. This article is the direct outcome of making a dream a reality. Ready – Let’s go!
Recently, I embarked on one of those trips of a lifetime with my 18-year-old son Andrew. Both being avid golfers, we journeyed to Ireland to play five of the most famous golf courses in the world. Now, he may have the old man’s number now, but just a few short years ago, I could give him 5 a side and feel comfortable. Dylan said it best… The times they are a-changin’ – and boy – was he right then and oddly enough those words seem to resonate even more so now…
We all have that “bucket list” we want to check off during our life. I am so lucky to have just checked off one of the boxes. You know, the one you dream of, but deep down aren’t sure will ever really happen. Well, this one, I have been dreaming of for decades – and I’ll be damned, even as I write this, on the plane back from Ireland, I am questioning if it was real or all some sort of elaborate visceral lucid dream… OUCH – the flight attendant passed me with her cart filled with tonic water and bags of peanuts. I have an aisle seat, my right elbow was just bumped by said snack cart, and the tingling in my “funny bone” is letting me know – HOLY SH*T – this trip WAS REAL! I digress…
Itinerary: a 12-hour transatlantic flight to a far-off land. Just a dad and his only son embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. Our goal: Taking off for the iconic golf heaven named Ireland. This will be the kind of golf trip that will kick start one person’s life & college career while simultaneously bookending a significant chapter for the other. A proud father and now, a new empty nester… Thank you for taking this journey with me. Here goes…
HOW IT CAME TO BE:
A little background – I’m an 8 handicap and my son is a 1 handicap and played high school golf in Florida; Andrew did receive some offers to play college golf at various d2 and d3 schools, but has chosen to study hard and hopefully meet some cute college co-eds! (I hope in that order).
We had planned this trip over 18 months ago because getting onto these courses is extremely difficult (especially following Covid-19) when many golfers were forced to cancel travel and rebook the following year.
I am very fortunate to be happily married for 30 years and have 3 great children. My wife also loves golf and my oldest daughter, now 26 was a competitive golfer in high school and now plays for fun when she finds the time. Initially, we would have opted for a “family trip” to Ireland however my middle child, Lexi (age 23) has no clue how to hit a golf ball. I still love her but why couldn’t she learn golf instead of tennis when she was a kid? Thus, the rationale for the father/son trip!
As I learned, there are 2 regions of Ireland for golf – (1) the North and (2) the South. Although not horribly far by car (around 6 hours), most golfers will pick one region of Ireland and then plan a follow up a follow-up trip to return.
We chose the Southern Region and booked these 5 courses:
- Old Head Golf Links
- Tralee Golf Club
- Hogs Head Golf Club
- Ballybunion – The Old Course
- Waterville Golf Club
Andrew did want to travel to the North to play 2 very famous courses (1) Royal County Downs and (2) Port Rush – both courses considered top 10 in the world. However, it wasn’t in the cards for this trip so it gives us the best excuse to hopefully go back in the future.
THE COURSES AND OUR RANKINGS:
Old Head ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐– called the Pebble Beach of Ireland. And it certainly was. We were blown away by the views. Our caddie at Old Head (and candidly at every course) was beyond incredible.
Tralee ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I hadn’t really heard of this course in depth prior to the trip. What a course. Maybe the most beautiful back 9 on Earth. Built into the water on every hole.
Waterville ⭐⭐⭐⭐– One of the oldest courses in Ireland and the home of the Irish Open a few years back. Just a month earlier, Adam Scott and Shane Lowry played there. As we’re checking in with the starter, a very friendly Irish gentleman about 80 years old says “Andrew – you look like a good golfer?” Andrew quickly says “You look pretty good yourself” as you just get a different energy and can somehow tell that this guy was “a player.” We started talking and we introduced ourselves (I’ve trained Andrew you always take your hat off, offer a firm handshake, and look the person directly in the eye). “Nice to meet you says Lee Higgins”. I thought to myself, I remember that name somehow…but how…who was this Lee Higgins character – 👈 click to find out – crazy story! After a lengthy conversation, we learn that Lee Higgin’s, now 81 years, home course is Waterville Golf Links, won 6 times on tour and was runner-up 5 other times. And, for a really cool trivia fact – Higgins set the world long-drive record in 1984 hitting a ball 634 yards on the runway at Baldonnel Military Airport in Dublin.
Hogs Head ⭐⭐⭐⭐– Candidly, I had never heard of this course prior to making our trip but my golf travel agent had highly recommended it and was so excited that she got us on. A billionaire from the USA who attended the University of Michigan (the alma mater of my oldest daughter) built this course. It was truly incredible and because of the “Michigan connection”, I spent more money than I should have on all the blue and maize logoed items in their pro shop! Hoags Head is located just a few minutes from Waterville Golf Club.
BallyBunion Golf Club ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐– Ranked one of the top courses in the world and I can see why. Tom Watson considers this his favorite course in the entire world. My son being a 1 handicap, wanted to play the tips vs. my typical yardage which is my distance on my home course. The Caddie says to Andrew – play your dad’s tees! You will have a lot more fun. And he was absolutely right! With the windy conditions and tricky terrain, this was the way to go! The caddies are always right. It’s crazy – Like ALWAYS! – They have knowledge that is passed down from generation to generation. Without them, we both agreed we would have shot 5+ strokes worse on every round.
My Rainsuit – all I heard prior to leaving was “be prepared” for the rain. I have become quite spoiled as I live on a golf course and with just the site of a few drops of rain, “I’m done” and happy to go back to my house and have a catch with my dog. However in Ireland, with the cost of the greens fees, we’re playing 18 holes even if it’s a monsoon. I purchased a VJUS rainsuit – it cost more than my wedding celebration but I was prepared for the elements. Plus I brought a really cool umbrella that wouldn’t turn upside down even in winds up to 1,000 mph. I also had 2 rain gloves and brought 2 pairs of golf shoes in case mine were soaked from the prior day. Guess what? It never rained in 7 straight days. Not one drop. Zero. The caddies said “lads – you got so lucky.” My rain suit is now hanging and unworn in the back of my closet.
They were the best on so many levels. (1) I think I would have lost a million balls without their eyes; (2) You must trust them implicitly which I learned very quickly. One caddie had a bottle of bourbon in his pocket and on every hole took a quick sip. My son quickly stopped drinking his water and now is a connoisseur of bourbon To recall a funny caddie story: – I carry a 4 iron which I hit about 190 yards – but I’ve recently started using my 4 hybrid which I hit more often. My drive on the 14th hole at Tralee was in the middle of the fairway leaving me the perfect 4 iron. The Caddie now knowing my game perfectly after prior 13 holes pulls out the 4 iron. I said “I don’t hit the 4 iron”; his immediate response without taking a breath was “Why the Fu** am I then carrying your 4 iron?” I felt slightly embarrassed and of course, hit the 4-iron onto the green. We got a good laugh, drank a bit more, and started walking down the fairway. He said, “I’ll pull out which club you should hit from now on – no need for you to look at which club it is – just hit it – Trust me, Lad”. He was right. What an amazing and cool guy, he was making our round even better and so much fun!
Driving in Ireland – This was my first trip to Ireland. I loved the people; I loved the scenery. I loved the golf. I hated one thing -the driving!! Because we were just a 2-some, we opted to save some money and rent a car (vs. a typical group of 8 or 12 golfers) who will rent a van for the week with a driver. In short, I have never been so scared in my life driving on these roads. Driving on the “other” side of the street was ok and relatively easy to learn (except for all the roundabouts). However, on these tiny backroads where most of the courses are located, they say 2 cars can fit, (like in the USA,) but I can assure you…ONLY ONE CAR fits even somewhat comfortably. Each time a van, bus, or truck passed me, I had to veer to the shoulder to stop from being hit. BONUS: I did get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully Andrew could figure out google maps and contacted an AAA-type company that eventually got us a new tire and back on the roads. My 2 cents – get a driver! It will save you the stress of driving in a foreign land and save you some grey hair while trying not to die abroad. If you do drive – give yourself a good 30 min buffer as to when you leave for the tee time. Trust me, you WILL need it.
As I reflect on our trip, it was without question, the trip of a lifetime I had hoped it would be…….. Having my only son, Andrew, alone for a week of golf, laughs, dinners, drinking, and just strengthening our “father/son friendship was one of the most special experiences of my life. It gave me a stark reminder not to blink – they grow fast…way too fast these days. So if you are close to having one of yours go off to school or just looking to re-kindle that relationship with a child, loved one, or just some of the old crew of golf buddies. There is no time like the present. It’s a gift – hence the term “the Present 🎁” As cheesy as it sounds when I proof this, I chose to keep it. It’s real. Cherish every moment…