Ireland, July 21-28, 2013 Trip Report

8 players from Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston, Salt Lake City, Etna NH, and Columbus GA.

7 rounds in 7 days.
3 hotels double occupancy
Perry Golf driver PATRICK
Plane Tickets $1500
Perry Golf $3300
Food & Beverage, etc $750
Total per person $5,500USD

Day 1 Ardglass

We arrived in Dublin and only Joe’s clubs failed to deliver. We boarded Perry Golf motor coach, stocked the onboard fridge with Tennant’s, Carlsberg, and Magners cider, and set off for Ardglass GC— a tricky rock hard course, no rain in last 3 weeks. Essential to get good advice on line of play off tees— must have at least one caddy per 4some. First hole is awkwardly uphill to a tiny green requiring a hit and hope approach shot. Woody with the help of his caddy was low man at 74. Ardglass is fun, a scenic out and back links course off the beaten track — the clubhouse is a castle!

Ardglass restaurant was closed. Fortunately, Aldo’s Restaurant located at head of Ardglass GC lane was brimming with hospitality and we enjoyed terrific food & drink in a cozy family atmosphere.

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Day 2 Royal County Down

At least 6 Royal County Down (RCD) tee shots are blind putting a premium on course knowledge. Woody had the only caddy (John) who was invaluable despite being a frequent distraction giving lots of unwanted advice.

No rain in last 6 weeks made for a very fast course.. the rough was still quite penal. RCD is golf heaven a perfect links landscape of huge golden dunes. RCD deserves it’s rank as the best course in Ireland.

No drinking water on RCD course. Start with a loaded water bottle and refill at the turn. Brad fired a superb 75 to lead the field.

Joe’s clubs finally catch up with us. Good thing because his playing partners are having a tough time keeping up with his golf ball drain.

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Day 3 Portstewart

What a gem! Front nine winds through enormous dunes very difficult in rock hard conditions. Back nine is much less scenic but more forgiving and quite enjoyable. Woody with the help of his 74 year old caddy (John) was low man with a scintillating 75.

John (74 year old caddy) & Bob
Our Perry Golf driver, Patrick, was an invaluable tour guide — a font of useful information, he unerringly directed us to the best sights and restaurants.

Day 4 Portrush

Royal Portrush Dunluce is long and narrow with penal rough and cavernous bunkers. It was the most difficult test of the trip. With plenty of irrigation, Portrush fairways are in excellent condition. What appeared to be wispy rough played like wire. Just getting the ball back into the fairway was a challenge.

Brad birdied 3 of the first 4 holes in route to a 78– 6 shots better than the next closest man.
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Day 5 Portmarnock

Flattish, uninspired appearance compared to the towering dunes of other courses we played. Best holes are close to the beach. Arch and Woody shared low honors with 78’s.

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More forgiving than Portrush; wispy rough is playable. We were spared the usual big coastal wind that makes this relatively open track tough. Unique to Portmarnock, greens fee includes lunch (soup & sandwich fixed menu). No shorts allowed in clubhouse for lunch so we donned our rain pants.

Dinner at Sea Bank restaurant just around the corner from our hotel featured excellent, pricey food in a very nice ambience. From there we walked into town for ice cream and to chat up the locals.

Grand Malahide Hotel wasn’t so grand — An old dame past her prime featuring tiny, noisy rooms, lousy wi-fi, and so-so food; too bad, because the friendly sea town location is ideal, with restaurants and shops within easy walking distance. We loved the beautiful view of the bay, sail boats and the island (site of the Island Club) from breakfast room at GM.

Day 6 Island Club

The Island Club is located right across the bay from our hotel a stone’s throw that interpolated into a 30 minute ride to get there by ground. Too bad they stopped using the ferry in 1973.

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We elected to play the white competition tees at 6312 seemed about right. After finding the first 3 holes difficult to reach in regulation, it finally dawned on us that this course was measured in meters! We moved forward to the green tees on #4.

This is a tough course— our scores were comparable to those at Portrush. Greg Arnold’s game finally came around as he lead the Zipline league with a 79.

Day 7 European Club

The good days just keep on coming with our 7th straight day of perfect golf weather.

The European Club is unique in this part of the world. This is a 20 hole golf course with an extra par 3 on each side. We rode in buggies as there are no caddies and this is a very tough course to walk. The fairways and greens are heavily watered; so greens were soft and receptive.

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We experienced pitch marks and balls spinning back off the greens for the first time all week. Bunkers are riveted with heavy timbers/planks that are flashed up — incredibly penal to be avoided at all costs.

Arch Arnold fires trip low 73 smoking the next closest pursuer by a whopping 5 shot margin.

With a big festival in Malahide we had a tough time finding suitable dining. We eventually landed a table for 8 at the wine only Provence Café where we consumed a wonderful meal.

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Summary Course Ranking –All Around fun to play
1-Royal County Down
2-Portrush Dunluce
3-Portstewart
4-Island Club
5-European Club
6-Ardglass
7-Portmarnock

Seminole GC, January 2011 Trip Report

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Eugene, Arch, Greg, Woody, Brad, Blanton

The Arnolds arrive at Seminole GC and are met by our first ever bag-drop valet parker. We head for locker room to change shoes. Lots of tall wooden lockers run around the walls of an enormous double-height room featuring a generous bar and plenty of seating area with tables covered with vintage golf books. Competition winning team plaques adorn the walls with the names of the titans of industry, politics, and golf. They are, however, afflicted with the bane of private club locker rooms…. where do you store all those golf shoes?

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Seminole Club House

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Seminole Locker Room

The driving range measures just 275yds — forced Greg Arnold to holster his driver after his first effort easily flew the net— much to the surprise of our caddies who were both professionals caddying to earn winter money to subsidize summer mini-tour competition. One of our caddies was Eugene Smith a Canadian Tour pro who survived 7 episodes on the Big Break Prince Edward Island.

Zipline take on the Track: The best course we’ve ever played in Florida. Course conditioning excellent—fast, firm greens – with plenty of room off the tee. A course of angles— requires exceptional amount of golf intelligence to assess the strategic options. Seminole is built on sand dunes hard on the Atlantic Ocean and trees are few and far between. It features a lot more elevation change than one expects in Florida. The Donald Ross crowned greens are slightly elevated and the ball runs eagerly off into magnetic bunkers. Teeing off the back nine feels like an instant replay of Seminole holes #1 and #2 — very unusual in our golf experience. This is a subtle, challenging track that grows on you.

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Love the unpretentious scorecard — no bragging about #10 ranking in USA or Donald Ross 1929 design.
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Despite playing at 6593 yards off the blue tees, only Greg Arnold played close to his handicap— even par thru 15, he folded like a cheap suit under the gun finishing 4 over par. Woody shot a fat 85, sandwiching 2 snowmen between his 4some leading 2 birdies. Brad & Arch took home the bacon.

IF you ever get the opportunity to play Seminole, drop everything and do it!

Scotland August 21-28, 2010 Trip Report

4 Arnolds and 4 Peases flew into Glasgow where we happily arrived with all our bags (a first) and were met by Celtic Fairways bus driver (Drew).

We checked into Turnberry Hotel and warmed up on the par 3 course out front of the hotel. Brad Arnold’s (on right below) first shot was a hole-in-one: A great way to start the trip. We teed off on Turnberry’s Ailsa course that afternoon into a 25 mph wind on a gorgeous sunny day. Woody Arnold waxed the group with his trip best 72. Our caddy, Gordon (in center below) studying for masters in dietetics, was the best we experienced all week.

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Brad, Arch, Woody, Greg Arnold at Turnberry

Next day Prestwick – very cool track – lots of blind shots – rain set in early and stayed. Brad Arnold, our highest handicap at 8, set the scoring pace with 77.

That afternoon we dined on fine sandwiches from Publix and played Royal Troon. The wind picked up to 40mph but the rain subsided to a light drizzle – we enjoyed a little hail on #16. Woody was low man at 79.

Overnight in Bonham hotel in Edinburgh

Tuesday—Muirfield “a gentleman’s club that just happens to have a world class golf course attached”- Outstanding experience, lunch (coat & tie and street shoes required) in clubhouse only slightly less impressive than golf course. We played in spitting drizzle and very strong wind. Adam Pease low man at 81.

Played North Berwick in the afternoon. Turned into a balmy day. #15 the original Redan is great hole, but not as good as Seth Raynor’s Camargo #15. Brad Arnold and Greg Arnold shared low man honors at 76. This is a terrific course only slightly tainted by the constant smell of manure.

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Peases and Arnolds at North Berwick

Overnight in Rusack’s Hotel overlooking 18th hole at St Andrews Old Course

Wednesday — Kingsbarns. The weather and course were perfect.—Magnificent large scale layout, A MUST PLAY with many “postcard” coastline views. Greg Arnold went low at 75.

Moved over to Castle course for afternoon round. The only thing our group liked about Castle was the outstanding hot dog fare at halfway house. Course design is overdone – wispy mounds obscure the fairway targets from tees — architecturally a dumb design with brutal green contours and fairway bunkering and routing that is over-the-top. Avoid this course like the plague! Gordy Pease led the way with 75.

Finally some nightlife at Dunvegan Hotel just up the road from Rusack’s.

Thursday — Took the morning (pouring rain) off for some sweater shopping and a tour of the R&A hosted by Sir Charles. Highlight was a sneak into the Secretary’s office to see view of surrounds and 18th green from balcony.

Then we headed out for afternoon round at Carnoustie. Despite benign conditions, we had a tough time scoring – just like Jean Van De Velde. This was a favorite course for several of our group. Jay Pease gets on the lowman scoreboard with 78.

Friday — OLD COURSE on a fantastic weather day. Huge double greens, invisible pot bunkers — course was lush green in great shape. Without wind, the Old Course was defenseless. Greg Arnold and Jay Pease led the way with 72s. We waited on #18 for Eduardo Romero to tee off #1. Jason Pease almost holes out from fairway on 18 and Eduardo tells him “Good Shot!” Shaken by the experience, Jason goes on to a 3 putt bogey.

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ARNOLDS on the Swilcan Bridge at #18 Saint Andrews

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ARNOLDS at St. Andrews Road Hole

Moved over to New Course that afternoon for our 10th and last round of the trip. A classic links but not a lot of flair – feels a bit monotonous after the Old Course – maybe because we are tired. Greg Arnold led the way with a 72.

Saturday – flew home to Buffalo NY and Columbus GA.

OVERALL: A great trip. We are now making reservations for another Scotland experience in July 2011.

Lessons Learned:

  • Tennant’s is the Beer of Champions
  • Nothing worse than a bad caddie that can’t keep his mouth shut.
  • Must Plays: Turnberry, Kingsbarns, Old Course, Carnoustie, North Berwick, Muirfield
  • Good Play: Prestwick, Royal Troon, New Course
  • God Awful: Castle course
  • Pray for good weather

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Woody Arnold — Zipline CEO

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Greg Arnold — Zipline President

Bandon Dunes July 18-22, 2008

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8 players hailing from Buffalo, Cincinnati, Charleston, Houston, Salt Lake City, and Columbus GA.

Daily Routine for 5 days:
0600 get up
0700 shuttle to course and breakfast
0800 tee off
1230 lunch at the course
1330 tee off
1800 cocktails at Grove Cottage
2000 dinner
2200 go to bed

36 holes per day on same course worked well. Tee times at 8 and 8:10 with replays at 1:30 and 1:40 worked perfectly allowing an hour for lunch & recuperation.. Played BD-PD-BT-BD-PT rotation. One drawback to this rotation was that hole positions are rotated front-back-middle; so we were surprised by the same pin locations on days 4 and 5 at BD and PT. Lesson: don’t play same course 3 days later. If winds go over 35mph, play a Scramble.

Bets : $30 exposure/player/round. $20 on team bets; $10 on individual . 2 balls. Modified Stableford.

Greens are rock hard, no divot repair tools needed. Lies are very tight. Chipping and putting skill is crucial. Texas wedge and Scottish run up shots work best. Course routing is obvious and greens are straight forward with an occasional exception: Caddy isn’t essential.

Tough walks: hilly terrain with elevated tees and greens not close to each other. Rickshaw trolleys are free. Railroad tie walkways are wet and slippery in the AM: Be Careful!

Average Round: 4 & 1/2 hours — a good pace of play except for one 5 hour round stuck behind PGA wannabees. Marshalls are everywhere. Just keep up with the group ahead of you. Laser rangefinder very useful; most sprinkler heads are yardage marked.

Pacific Dunes: by far the hardest of the 3 courses. Bunkers and greens not in great condition. Windiest of the 3 courses. Most scenic course, ocean view holes are spectacular. 2 of our players ran out of balls.

Bandon Dunes: best of the 3 courses as rated by our 8 players, per summary below:

Course Rankings
Name w/handicap
Hen 5
Joe 13
Arch 4
Greg 5
Tony 10
Brad 6
Woody 4
Bob 7
Average
Bandon Dunes
1
1
1
1
1
2
3
2
1.5
Bandon Trails
3
2
2
2
3
1
1
3
2.125
Pacific Dunes
2
3
3
3
2
3
2
1
2.375
Average Score
81
90
82
83
88
84
79
86
$Won/(lost)
(48)
28
(39)
(11)
81
(26)
66
(48)

Bandon Trails: a pleasant surprise, an inland course with links style bunkers, with a nice variety of hard-easy golf holes and the best greens we played : a protected refuge from fierce afternoon winds.

We eschewed the black tees, and played the Greens on all 3 course. 6200 yards never played so long. A 4th course, Old MacDonald, opens in 2010.

Don’t go to Bandon Dunes unless you are a strong player. The short hitting slicer with a 20 handicap won’t enjoy the punishment. Must have a knock-down stinger in your arsenal. Trappers of the ball have much easier time here.

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4 in Lily Pond Rooms
4 in Grove Cottage

Lily Pond Rooms: upscale Holiday Inn, very comfortable, good beds, reasonable price. “We thought our rooms were great… until we saw where the Grove boys were staying”

Grove Cottage: outrageously expensive, top shelf accommodations, 4 of us deserved it!

Bottled Water is free at Lily Pond and Grove Cottage. Take a bottle in your bag. There isn’t much water on the courses. Refill your bottle at the rare water fountain to stay hydrated. Halfway house refreshments are available as well.

On site shuttle service is superb and very quick.

Practice Area: very large, but exposed to wind and not convenient to any first tee. We practiced briefly the day of our arrival. It was impractical to shuttle between practice area and golf course prior to any of our rounds.

Alaskan Air service from Portland to North Bend was excellent:: free beer, acceptable snacks and friendly staffers.

Connoisseurs Shuttle Service: 45 minute limo bus ride from North Bend to Bandon Dunes was excellent. Free beer and coffee included. Stopped for liquor and snacks in route. Grove Cottage has small refrigerator, no kitchen. Grove Cottage staff provided iced cooler for our drinks. Grove Cottage common room was perfect post round rally point for our group of 8. Taxi ride to town (Bandon) was $60.00.

3 restaurants on property: McKee’s Pub, The Gallery, and Bunker Bar all within wedge from each other. Food was good. Tasted like same chef was preparing food for all 3 restaurants. Breakfasts were the best. The 3 egg “meat lovers” omelet & 2-eggs w/ country sausage is especially recommended. Friendly, quick service was the rule.

Golfwear: Layer yourself. Very cold in AM required ski hat and windbreaker. Shorts + rain pants is a workable combo. Warms up mid first round such that if wind is down, shorts and golf shirt works. 65% wore slacks, 35% shorts. Never rained, thank GOD! It will be windier and colder than you expect..

Recommended Outfit: slacks, long sleeve undershirt (UnderArmor), golf shirt, sweater vest, and short sleeved rain shirt. Wear golf hat. Put ski hat and rain pants in your bag.

Must Bring: chapstick, sun screen, moisturizer to treat post round windburn

Overall Experience Rating: Very Good

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