Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rick Cleveland mails it in from Ireland.

So, as this is written, Mississippi State and Southern Miss are about to play in a regional championship in Hattiesburg and your correspondent is roughly 4,400 miles away in Dublin City.

And your correspondent won't return until after either State or USM plays LSU in a Super Regional this weekend in Baton Rouge.

Now then, some would call this poor planning. On the other hand, this has been a bucket-list trip long in the making. There are places to see, bogeys to make. Lots and lots of bogeys.

A group of eight of us have played seven of Ireland's greatest links golf courses in nine days. Actually, the seventh was in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, a storied course known as Royal County Down. It is the most difficult course I have played in my 54 years of golfing.

The other six – Waterville, Tralee, Ballybunion, Old Head, The European and Portmarnock – all have been hard.

It reached the point, we would make our bogeys, head for the next tee, survey the situation, and someone would say, “Ah, lads, what fresh hell have we here...”

Nothing in Mississippi prepares you for links golf: for the wind, the hard fairways, the thick gorse, the deep pot bunkers (often hidden from view), the dunes, the hard, undulating greens and more wind.

At Royal County Down, we seemingly experienced four seasons in one 18-hole round. We were alternately cold, warm, cool, hot (not for long), wet and dry and wet again. We changed in and out of rain jackets and sweaters so often we needed changing rooms. And all the while, the wind blew.

One good thing: We could always see the rain coming from over the mountains in the distance. We had fair warning.

The wind has blown the entire trip. On the west coast of Ireland at courses such as Old Head, it came from the Atlantic Ocean. On the east coast, it came from the Irish Sea. Always it came, sometimes harder than others. But it was persistent and it changes the sport entirely.

At Royal County Down, downwind, I hit a 210-yard 5-iron second shot into a 520-yard par-5 hole for my only birdie of the day, an easy two-putt. Now, anyone who has played golf with me knows I don't hit the ball that far. But that's how hard the wind blows.

On the same course, going the opposite way (toward the sea), I used a 5-iron for one 135-yard shot. It came up short.

Once, I asked a course ranger if the wind always blows like this.

He replied, “Ah, lad, 'tis but a breeze today. This is not wind.”

In America, we refer to any golf course as “links” – as in, let's go hit the links. We are in error. Links comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “hlinc,” in the 10th century, which meant a ridge. It evolved to refer to the rough, grassy area between the land and the sea. And, yes, there are often ridges and dunes involved.

Trees are scarce and sometimes just plain absent. Gorse – a thick, prickly, yellow-flowering shrub – abounds. It's everywhere and seems to dine on golf balls, mine in particular.

Links golf plays with your mind. The wind is in your face on a 440-yard par-4, so naturally you swing harder. You lose your rhythm. You hit your ball into the gorse – or into one of those deep pot bunkers where the only fear worse than knowing you probably can't blast the ball out is that you might not be able to get yourself out.
The greens are hard and difficult. So are the fairways. Tight lies abound. Often, it is better to use your putter from 30 yards away instead of risking a wedge shot off one of those tight lies. You tense up. You tighten your grip. That's never good.

Yes, there are times you ask yourself: Why did I pay all that money to put myself through this wringer?

And then you hit that one shot, the 5-iron with the wind that leaves you the 15-foot eagle putt. Or you see one of those amazing vistas over the Atlantic Ocean or the Irish Sea. Or you and your partners, in the 19th hole over mugs of Guinness, recount the round, tell stories and laugh like school kids. And you remember: This is why we came.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

"What I Did On My Summer Vacation", by Richard Cleveland, Grade 4.

Mailing it in indeed.

YAWN!

Anonymous said...

@8:41

You seem to comment on every submission by Rick Cleveland, in a negative manner. My goodness, if something bores me as much as he seems to bore you then I just pass over it. Why don't you try it. You might have a brighter outlook on life!

Anonymous said...

YAWN indeed: And coming in second in the YAWN contest....we have....a brief visit with a family of ospreys with a Godfather trailer bring up the rear. The contest this quarter was especially close. Still no word on 'Sexiest Losing Candidates Of The Metro'.

Anonymous said...


June 7, 2017 at 9:07 AM = Long with complaints, short on actual performance

Look at ME! I'm in IRELAND! said...

So Rick's back to making it all about him. Well, at least we got about 4 weeks of actual reporting.

I'm expecting next week's article will be a reminiscing of the time "this reporter" met Coach Mortimer Flemnose, the man who led the Jumpertown Pine Cones to four National Parcheesi titles between 1926 and 1941.

Louis LeFleur said...

Geez, what a bunch of complainers. I'll bet none of them write for a living *or* run a blog!

Anonymous said...

I guess that Rick gets paid something for his writing. This story makes the entire trip a 'business expense'. What would you do? You get a chance to write off 1/2 of your income for the year as a business expense because you wrote a 200 word column about the trip. Or not.
In this manner Rick is just like Trump. Like you and me. We don't make up the tax laws. We just play by the rules someone else made up.

Anonymous said...

I see Little Lumumba has a clown who has appointed himself chief poobab and protector of the family who will comment on all things official and related to the incoming government of Jacktown. Now we have one on here at 8:58 and 10:06 who will be remarking from the sidelines on all things Bloggish. Actually, tool, YOU are boring. GTF outa here.

Who the hell 'writes' or 'runs a blog' for a 'living', Louie Louie?

Anonymous said...

I played the Old Course many years ago, and bought a golf towel from there and put it on my bag. Some bastard stole it when I was at a course back in the U.S. So Rick, keep any nice souvenirs locked up when you return.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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