March 13, 2011
Greetings from Killarney, Ireland to all Tribe Golf family, friends, and followers. Today marked the final day of golf in Ireland as we trekked across the pastoral Irish countryside to the famed Ballybunion Old course early this morning. Having been blown away by phenomenal scenery at the Ballybunion Cashen course on Tuesday, everyone on the team was eager to see if the Old course would stand up to all the hype the local Irish golfers have been putting on the Course. It did with flying colors. The elegant rolling terrain and dazzling ocean views were beyond compare to any course I've ever played in the United States and in step with the magnificent likes of Tralee and Waterville from earlier this week. In other words, the Old Course at Ballybunion is nothing short of a brilliant design on perhaps the finest links golf real estate in the whole world; a perfect finale for our week in Ireland.
Prior to this morning, each day we have arrived at the course the weather had been relatively tame; only yesterday did the wind really pick up as the day progressed. However, when we arrived at the course today, the wind was already howling-a true daylong test of links golf. Jeremy said he had never played in tougher conditions as the weather yesterday, and today was far worse. Johnny-our hilariously funny and only slightly bawdy coach driver-said yesterday's wind was only a slight Irish breeze. But this morning he acknowledged, "We have a gale force wind today." Throughout the day, many of us curled up on the non-windy side of the Irish dunes or huddled behind one another in hopes of a brief respite from the wind. Needless to say, if we were anywhere other than Ireland I think our day would have been spent indoors. As it was, we were all thrilled to see what Irish golf in the elements is all about.
Being our last day in Ireland, today also marked the culmination of our quasi Ryder cup competition-the Tribe Cup-with the much-anticipated mano-a-mano singles competition. The European squad-lead by Coach Jay-entered the final day with a two-point lead over the American crew-lead by coach Pete. In the first grouping of the day, the American squad took the slight advantage with husband-wife duo of Jay and Leighann taking a combined total of 2 and a half points while the American pair of Brandon (The King) Parker and Tom (The Anchor) Schaffer taking three and a half points. In the second pairing of the day, the European troop regained the advantage as Jerry (Pinseeker) Wells solidified three points from coach Pete, while I fought hard against a very steady Zack (daddy's home) Glassman for a two point to one loss. In the final pairing of the day, the American gang took control. Nick (The Little Devil) Schaffer rallied against Tanner (J-Biebz) Taddeo's capricious course management to pick up a 2.5 to .5 point win for the Americans. And in the final match of the day, Spencer (Copsy here) Kushner took down Charles (Coming up) Godfrey in a hard fought roommate battle making the final tally 19 points to 17 in favor of the Americans.
I know I speak for everyone on the team when I say we had the time of our lives on this trip. From the world-class golf we got to play to the fun we had hanging out in our free time, the trip really couldn't have been better. For me personally, it's been a true pleasure spending time with everyone one who came on the trip-getting to know a few new people better and getting to spend time in a truly magical place with the best teammates anyone could ask for.
We'll be heading back to the States early tomorrow morning, and while it's certainly bittersweet to leave, it will be nice to get back to our respective lives with a few wonderful memories and a bunch of good stories to tell. On behalf of all of Tribe Golf, thank you for following our online blogs, see you soon!
March 9, 2011
Hello again from across the pond. We had another exciting day today in Ireland. The Americans vs. "pseudo-Europeans" battled it out at Dooks golf club - a classic links layout on the Atlantic Ocean. The major battle today was fought between the players and Mother Nature, not the two teams. I've played golf for 15 years and I can honestly say these were the most difficult conditions I've ever seen. Naturally, the weather was perfect when we arrived the course. The sun was shining and the wind was calm. Kushner was even prancing around in a short-sleeved shirt. Over half of the guys (Kushner included) didn't bring raingear on the course because it seemed so calm. Needless to say, things got interesting out there. With temperature slightly above freezing, sleet and rain, steady 30 MPH winds, and gusts at around 50, it was a testing day to say the least.
In the team competition between the tenacious Statesmen and the stylish "pseudo"-Euros, the Americans managed to cut into the lead by a point. In a grudge match between the freshmen and their parents, good play by America's Nick Shafer and Michael Bekken led to a quick 3 point win. Highlighting the round was Nick's driver/3-wood to 10 feet on the 400 yard 18th . He was the only player to reach all day; the wind was gusting at 50 in our face. Coach Pete and Zach "the Situation" Glassman took 2 points from Coach Jay and his wife Leighann. In the anchor match, the pseudo-Euros managed its only victory of the day with a 3-point sweep by Godfrey and me over Parker and Kushner. The Euros will be hanging onto a 2-point lead heading into the final day. The roars will be hard to miss out there as it will be singles' play. Rumor has it Coach Pete is coming for me...
So far, a few things have really stood out to me in Ireland. The people here are unbelievably respectful and welcoming. We've been treated as their friends and companions this week, not as outsiders. From a golfing standpoint, I can't begin to explain how beautiful these courses are. Ireland's golf courses, not their neighborhoods, are placed in the most picturesque locations available. About 95% of the holes we've played have been within view of sand dunes, water, and mountains. On multiple occasions we've talked about how we're experiencing the most breathtaking landscapes we've ever seen and playing golf at the same time.
I think I speak for the group when I say things can't get much better. We work our hearts out every single day both at school and on the golf course at home and this Spring Break in Ireland with my best friends will be unforgettable. I am extremely privileged and honored to be here with my team and my coaches. Hello to my family and everyone else back in the U.S. One more day until we head home to get back to work and reality.
March 8, 2011
Day four is finished! And what a day it was! For the first time since our arrival, we experienced what we had expected to see coming into the trip. In other words, the infamous Irish winds came alive at the beautiful and historic Ballybunion property. But this change did not deter us from having loads of fun, whether it was racing to the water's edge off the 11th tee box or taking pictures on the cliff on the 17th .
After three days of abnormally spectacular weather, we were finally tested by Mother Nature and got to play golf like it is typically played in Ireland, the home of links golf. With wind gusts reaching up to 40 mph, it was commonplace among our team to be hitting drives as far as 350 yards with the wind at our back or as short as 180 yards when directly in its teeth. While standing on the top of a sand dune on the 7th hole, feeling the spray of the ocean and watching the tide roll in, I was once again overwhelmed with appreciation for this opportunity to spend a week in this great place with my teammates.
Today was also a special day in that it was the first of three days for our intra-squad version of the Ryder Cup. In the nine points available, the pseudo-Europeans were able to steal six of the points which leaves the Americans (my team) three behind with three points. With 16 more points up for grab over the next two days, it looks to be a close competition. In my match, which consisted of fellow freshman Patrick (Pocket Rocket) Leisure and his dad verses my dad and I, the MVP for the day would certainly go to my dad, who careered it on the front nine in the four-ball competition to help secure two points for the American team. As our driver, Johnny (everyone's favorite person on the trip), told me in the beginning of the week, I am very lucky to have my dad here to share this experience with - after the last four days, I couldn't agree more.
After a delicious dinner in Lithews of some traditional Irish Stew, we are driving back to Killarney and while practically everyone is napping, I'm awake and excited to see what the adventure is like tomorrow at Dooks Golf Club.
Head Coach Jay Albaugh
March 8, 2011
The last two days in Ireland have been magnificent. Yesterday, we played Tralee - Arnold Palmer's seaside links course. It is perhaps the most beautiful golf course I have ever played. The seaside cliff holes on both the front and back nine rival that of Cypress Point. We have had team discussions on what course is better...Waterville vs. Tralee. It is split right down the middle. I prefer Waterville simply because there is not a bad hole on the golf course. But Tralee has the 'postcard' beauty that sometimes make your round an afterthought. After the round we spent some time in the restaurant. I was speaking to the General Manager and he said some members had seen us playing and they would be interested in a match the next time we are over. Everywhere you turn over here, you are greeted with hospitality and graciousness. Hopefully in four years when we do this trip again, we will have a 'friendly' against the scratch players at Tralee.
Today at the Cashen Course at Ballybunion, we finally got a 'wee bit of wind'. That is what the locals refer to as a 20-30 mph breeze. There were times that we even had to add 4 clubs to the yardage we were playing. The Cashen Course is in the shadows of its more famous sister, the Old Course at Ballybunion. Based on the layout of the Cashen.... we can't wait to see what the Old Course is like. It is solid golf course and certainly bared its teeth today in the windy and sometimes rainy conditions.
We also started our inter-team Ryder Cup today. Coach Gyscek captains Team USA, while I captain the pseudo-European teams (nicknamed Eurotrash) by some of the USA team members. I am happy to say that the Eurotrash ruled the first day, leading 6 points to 3. Jeremy Wells and Charles Godfrey (Pseudo Euros) took 2 ½ points from Brandon Parker and Zach Glassman (USA) in the feature match of the day.
We tee it up tomorrow for Day 2 of the Team Ryder Cup at Dooks... I think everyone is going to enjoy this course. It doesn't get the publicity or notoriety of some of the other course we are playing. However, it is a hidden gem and going to be another great course that we get to experience. Can Coach Gyscek rally Team USA?? Check in tomorrow to find out.
March 7, 2011
Day three is in the books! We had an early morning as we had to rise and shine in time for another delicious breakfast and the 8am bus ride to Tralee. The views along the drive to Tralee courtesy of Johnny were stunning. We drove through the beautiful countryside until we reached the crashing waves of the Atlantic.
As we entered Tralee, everyone's jaws dropped as we saw the scenery. The course built on the Atlantic coast and can be seen from just about every hole, not to mention the half dozen holes that ran beside the ocean. After playing Waterville yesterday, most of us wondered if it could get any better. The views and rolling terrain of this golf course convinced us that yes, it could get better. The description on the Tralee scorecard says it best, "Created by God, Designed by Arnold Palmer."
Today I played with Brandon (Chunk) Parker, Jeremy (Beanie) Wells and Charles (Chuck) Godfrey. The front nine was relatively flat and didn't have the teeth that the back nine had. The narrow fairways and elevation changes made the backside a great test of golf. The scenic views on both sides made me forget at times that I was even playing golf.
The people in Ireland really respect the game of golf and have made us feel welcome at every course so far. On one hole today, Parker hit his drive to the right and was headed down the adjacent hole. His ball landed near the group on the previous tee box and nearly hit them. When we walked by them heading towards our balls I was taken aback by their graciousness. As opposed to in the States when most people would have had a few choice words for us, these gentleman were as nice as could be and quickly assured Parker that he was in great shape on the tee box ahead.
We left Tralee in fitting fashion with Michael (The Bekkenator) Bekken having to run back into the clubhouse to retrieve the hat he left inside. For those that won't understand, Michael lives on a different clock from the rest of us and always seems to find a way to be late.
Tomorrow begins our intra-squad version of the Ryder Cup between Coach Jay's pseudo-Europeans and Coach Pete's Americans. The players, coaches and parents have been split into two teams and we will have best-ball and singles matches the final three days to determine a champion.
I will go into tomorrow at Ballybunion with the same mindset that it can't get any better than today, but I hope I'm proved wrong again.
-- Zach Glassman
March 6, 2011
After a long night of travel, two free in-flight movies, and about 2 hours of fitful sleep, the Tribe golf team arrived in Shannon, Ireland yesterday. The red eye flight arrived around 10 am local time and we all sleepwalked through customs before venturing out into the cool Irish air of my ancestors. Our bus driver for the week, Johnny, introduced himself and we took off for Killarney. Just over an hour later we arrived at Killarney Golf and Fishing club for our first round of golf. Fortunately Coach Albaugh picked a parkland course for our first round to ease our transition to the Emerald Isle. The golf course is situated on the serene shores of Lough Lein (Lake Lein), and as the day wore on the fog slowly dissipated to reveal the eerie 3,000-foot mountains that rise in the southwest part of Ireland. After the round, and a dizzying day of new sights, we arrived at the Killarney Park Hotel, our base-camp for the week. Soon thereafter the party of 15 walked over to the nearby Ross Hotel for our first taste of Irish fare. At around 930 pm local time, stuffed full of seabass and loaded mashed potatoes, I crashed wearily into bed eager to try my hand at links golf.
This morning we all awoke to bright sunshine and a full Irish breakfast, black and white pudding included, to refuel before the trek southward into the county Kerry for our first full day of Ireland. The one hour drive, a worthwhile joy ride in of itself, brought us along a winding cliff top drive to the world renowned Waterville Golf Club. Waterville is a true links golf course, wedged between lush green farmland, Dinkle Bay, and mountains looming in nearly all directions. It is built atop the natural dunes and the fairways are lines with fescue grass, but words can't do the sights proper justice. I decided before I ever set foot on the first tee that Waterville was my new favorite course, and Ireland my new favorite travel destination.
Today I was paired with teammates Nick, Patrick, and our bus driver Johnny. At 61, Johnny is no golfing slouch in spite of his recent hip replacement, but he didn't need clubs to be a great companion. Through 3 holes, Johnny had affectionately referred to me as Tiger, the King, and Kaymer (after pro golfer Martin Kaymer). Johnny coined the name "Pocket Rocket" for Patrick, a tribute to his power in spite of his diminutive frame, and the name "Little Devil" for Nick due to his propensity to challenge the cliffs with his tee shots. Among Johnny's many talents, not least of which is his ability to navigate the left side of winding rural Irish roads, is his story-telling ability. Like any good Irishman, Johnny has an intimate knowledge of Irish history and a great passion for his homeland. Having seen only a sliver of this beautiful country, its no wonder the Irish people has such a contagious enthusiasm. Tomorrow we are off to Tralee, and if it is one half the course Waterville is I'll need to clear some space on my digital camera.
Head Coach Jay Albaugh
March 6, 2011
After a long overnight transatlantic flight, we arrived in Shannon, Ireland early Saturday morning. Despite the lack of sleep, it has been my experience that is it best just to stay awake instead of catching up on sleep. So we headed to Killarney Golf and Fishing Club for our first day of play. Killarney G&FC has been the host of the Irish Open in the past. It was a good course to start our trip on because the fairways ore generous and everyone isn't quite sharp straight off the overnight flight.
On Sunday, we played perhaps the best course I have ever played (at least so far)....Waterville Links. There is not a bad hole on the golf courses and it is quite a test from the back tees of 7300 yards. The team also had the privilege of spending time with the Head Professional at Waterville, Liam Higgins. He played on the PGA Tour and is currently playing on the European Senior PGA Tour. He interrupted his practice on the range when we arrived to come over and talk to the team. He also met us in the restaurant after the round to ask us about our rounds and share some stories from his days on tour and about the courses we will be playing this week.
One of the greatest aspects of this trip is interacting with the people we meet over here. There are not many places in the US where the head professional would take time out of his day to talk to a group playing the course. The people here truly get excited to meet and talk to the college teams that come over here. One of the reasons we choose to come to Ireland over other countries is the hospitality and friendliness of the people.
Our driver, Johnny Whelan, is the epitome of that Irish hospitality. He has been educating the team not only on the golf courses, but also on Irish history and culture. This trip would not be the same without him. When I put this trip together, my first request, before any of the courses, is to make sure Johnny is our driver.
We head out early tomorrow morning for a round at Tralee, Arnold Palmer's seaside links course in Ireland.