I'm trying to get around to some different golf courses this year and had a great time today at the Mulranny Golf Club - a nine hole track about a half hour's drive north and west of Westport. The club is right on the north shore of Clew Bay and was founded in 1896 - 122 years of continuous operation. MGC is on "commonage" land - shares of the land are owned by ten entities - nine families, who use the land for grazing their livestock, and the entity that operates the golf course. The concept of commonage originated after the Irish were able to get back fair use of their land - after land reformation and the return of Irish land to Irish people. Of course, land in Ireland was confiscated by the British government and given to an ascendant group of quasi-noble Englishmen - mostly soldiers as reward for their service during the conquest of Ireland. Commonage is generally land that had been used by several families for their livestock, but actually owned by the English gentry who gave their permission to the tenant families for such a use.
So, one shares the course with whatever animals happen to be about at the time. Today, we saw cows, horses, sheep, and sheepdogs. They graze and then they....well you get the idea. Below, see a special local rule in effect at MGC.
|Yes, that's right. Droppings seems awfully kind. See next picture.|
|Hazard in the 1st fairway. A cow pie...|
One very unique thing about the course was the way the greens were sheltered from the animals - each green was surrounded by a fence of barbed wire, with a gate to give golfers access to the putting surface. I am told that the fences are there to protect the greens from damage from the animals' hooves as much as from their "schmutz." Although it seemed as though the barbed wire would deflect shots, in nine holes my ball passed through or above the wire fences without incident.
So, although you might be forgiven for snickering a little bit about MGC, it really was a quality track. Long fairways, well-groomed and extremely undulating greens, stunning scenery along the bay and across from the Reek, elevated teeboxes that gave great views - and, if you wanted to play 18 holes, you simply moved to the alternate tees after playing the outward bound nine.
Payment was a bit quirky as well - the "honor system." No one around, so you went in the clubhouse, signed the book, and put your 20 Euro in an envelope and deposited it in the dropbox. Then, off to play.
Candee walked the nine with me and we scouted a spot on the bay beach for another early morning picnic breakfast. It was a bit of an odd day. If you looked south across the bay toward Croagh Patrick, you were greeted by vivid blue skies with dramatic windwhipped clouds; if you gazed northward, you watched heavy mist and fog rolling over the mountains and heading directly for the course and the bay. Luckily, any inclement weather held off and we struck out for the local pub for a well-deserved cappuccino and a biscuit. A fun afternoon for us both.
|The barbed wire fence keeps out the fellow travelers|
|Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick|
|The green for holes number 5 and 14|
|Links golf, but mercifully light rough|
|We shared the course|
|Right next to the 6th and 7th fairways|
|Yeah, I pitched right over them.|