The MGA Takes Ireland
By Michael Leone, Director of Golf
In the last three years, the MGA trips have checked off some of the top courses all over the globe. These trips have taken the group as far west as Pebble Beach and as far east as Royal Liverpool, the host of the 2023 Open Championship. This year, we took our group of adventurous golfers to southern Ireland. The group consisted of myself, Ben Claus, Briggs Forelli, Doug Totura, Rick Chambers, Andy Timmerman, Joey Rivera, Don Bermant, Benny Scott, Joe Holl, Joe Hertzman, Michael Watson, Phil Russel, Peter Shea and Jay Guarch. A close second to the group of people was the resume of courses we were able to play. We started the trip off with Old Head Golf Links. The group was a bit nervous about the overall experience of the day, as on the bus ride to the course, the fog was so thick we could not see more than 30 yards in front of the bus. Luck was on our side though, after we played the first 4 holes in thick fog, the temperature rose and the fog lifted so we were able to see all the views that Old Head is famous for. If you haven’t played there, just imagine a golf course on top of a cliff, in the middle of the ocean. It is truly breathtaking.
Left: Andy Timmerman’s drive found the center of the fairway, but he couldn’t help getting as close as possible to the beautiful views at Old Head. Right: It is inevitable to miss ALL the pot bunkers around southern Ireland. Pictured: Joe Holl.
The group continued to get lucky with the weather as I can only remember putting on my rain jacket for a total of two holes for the entire trip. The rest of our lineup of courses included Tralee, Ballybunion, Dooks, Waterville, and Killarney. At the final dinner, we had each person rate their favorite courses and we had 15 completely different responses. Absolute proof that we had a wonderful resume of courses.
Left: Jay Guarch ended up winning our weeklong individual stableford game. A big component of that was his amazing abilities to recover from the tough elements. Right: No task is too large or too difficult for Joey Rivera.
Six days of golf was just not enough for some of our Members. Jay Guarch, Briggs Forelli, Michael Watson and Joe Hertzman arrived in Ireland a few days early to get a head start on adapting to the Ireland conditions of rock-hard fairways and extreme wind gusts. If driving on the opposite side of the street on roads that are barely wide enough for two vehicles isn’t hard enough, they ran into another slight issue: a flat tire. Stranded on the side of a mountain, in a foreign country with limited cell service, the group sat on the back of the trunk and smoked cigars as they waited for another car to pass and lend assistance. After a few hours of waiting and not seeing one single car, they finally got through to the golf course they were scheduled to play and had a staff member contact a roadside assistance company to send someone out to repair the tire. After hearing this story, it turned out to be the focal point of our jokes for the week. We laughed about it for days, even though I’m sure it was not too funny at the time.
No fairway is too narrow for Peter Shea.
Featured above: Textbook set up from Benny Scott at Ballybunion.