18 | NZ Golf Magazine | July 2019 I t just so turns out that I’ve been to three of this year’s four major venues although I’ve played just two of them. My only trip to Long Island took me to a few courses down the far end in the Hamptons but never Bethpage. So I haven’t been there. An acquaintanceship with a member at Augusta had me playing half a dozen rounds there a decade ago, I once ate lunch at Pebble Beach’s Beach Club with the famous 17th green and 18th tee just out the window, and memorably, in 2015 a tour of Irish links courses took me to Royal Portrush. Four years on, memories of the day are still strong. There were 16 of us from various places around the country on a tour organised by the legendary Bay of Plenty Golf Association Executive Director Chris “Fridge” McAlpine. To be honest it was a pretty brutal trip. We played 12 courses in 12 days, took a 2200 kilometre anti-clockwise bus trip around the Emerald Isle from Dublin to Dublin, but we experienced some of the world’s greatest links layouts. Royal Portrush came pretty early on the circuit. We’d started at Royal MemoriesofPortrush IT’S ALWAYS FUN WATCHING A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP ON TV AT A COURSE YOU’VE ACTUALLY PLAYED. WORDSPETERWILLIAMS County Down in Newcastle, and were then scheduled to play at Portrush on day 2. What’s more, after a rather torrid night in the RCD clubhouse, the idea of a 3pm start at Portrush appealed greatly. The bus trip took us north through Belfast and past the Giant’s Causeway, but Fridge had decreed there should be a detour to Bushmills. This small village of just 1400 people is famous for only one thing – its distillery. The full whiskey tasting and distillery tour experience came as part of the golf package, so in we traipsed. About this time, late morning, Fridge discovered through checking ahead to confirm our tee times at Royal Portrush’s Dunluce course (where the Open was played) that because it was a Friday, a members only day, we couldn’t actually get on. ↑ Golfers at the 5th hole at Royal Portrush Golf Club, Northern Ireland. FEATURE