While Mother Nature played a commanding role and worthy competitor on Sunday afternoon at this year’s Open (to all except Shane Lowry that is) she let the players off “easy” compared to the 80 mph gusting winds she blew our way eight years ago.
The weather on the final day of The Open at Royal Portush brought back some very wet and windy memories of our own trip there in September 2011. Hurricane Irene had hit the US East Coast hard in late August and it was just two weeks later that we headed to the Northwest corner of Ireland and Northern Ireland, only to get hit again, this time, by Hurricane Katia.
First Stop: The Calm Before the Storm – Rosapenna and Remembering Pat Ruddy
Our 2011 photography trip began at Rosapenna in Donegal, Ireland. Rosapenna’s first course was designed by Old Tom Morris in 1893 with additional work by James Braid and Harry Vardon in 1906 and Harry Colt in 1911 (FYI it was Harry Colt who designed Royal Portrush).
In addition to shooting the “Old Tom Morris Links”, Evan also spent time photographing what was at the time the “New Strand Nine” designed by Irishman, Pat Ruddy. A funny story about Mr. Ruddy – when Evan and I first met him at the European Club a few years earlier he was quick to offer us a personal tour. I should preface my story by asking: Doesn’t every golfer love a drive that goes straight down the center of the fairway? Next question – How many of these drives have occurred in a CAR?
I fully expected Mr. Ruddy would take us around the course in a cart, usually referred to as a “buggy” over there. Instead, we found ourselves getting the full 18 hole tour in his Cadillac. Pat played not only tour guide but also course ranger, driving up behind foursomes and honking his horn to make sure they were maintaining the pace of play. We will never forget the look on golfers’ face when they turned around to the sound of a blaring horn as the Cadillac rolled up behind them with a smiling Pat Ruddy at the wheel.
I went on Rosapenna’s website prior to putting this post together and became aware of all the additional work and routing changes that have occurred since our visit in 2011. I also noted that, since our visit, Rosapenna acquired 370 acres formally known as the Saint Patrick Links which adjoined Rosapenna’s original 800 acre dune system. Tom Doak completed work on these links in 2018. I’m going to suggest to Evan we find some time to return here and experience the 81 holes that is now Rosapenna.
To learn more about Rosapenna, please visit their website: https://www.rosapenna.ie/
Stay Tuned for Next Post – As the wind picks up at Royal Portush & Portstewart…