The Notre Dame men’s golf team is taking a fall break trip to Ireland and will play in the Jerry Murray/Waterville Invitational hosted by Notre Dame at the famed Waterville Golf Links in Waterville, Ireland.
The three-day tournament will be played on Oct. 22-24 and in addition to the Irish, Texas A&M and UNC Wilmington as well as three Irish universities will comprise the field. Notre Dame will also play rounds at Tralee Golf Club, Trump International and Lahinch Golf Club.
Read below for Head Coach Jim Kubinski’s updates.
There is a fairway out there. pic.twitter.com/5KaNHWtqai
— Notre Dame Mens Golf (@NDMensGolf) October 18, 2015
Saturday, Oct. 17
Smooth travel saw us land at Shannon, Ireland, well before our scheduled arrival time on Saturday morning. A rising sun, along the scenic Irish countryside, accompanied us over to the beautiful town of Tralee, where we enjoyed a Grand breakfast (“Grand” being both the name of the restaurant/hotel and a perfect descriptor of our delicious and full Irish breakfast).
After our play we headed toward our Sunday venue, Doonbeg. A reasonably long commute was lessened thanks to a short ferry ride across the River Shannon. We very much enjoyed dinner at Tubridy’s, in the little Town of Doonbeg, before finally retiring for a welcomed full night of rest.
After delicious morning fare we teed it up at Doonbeg. The golf course is under a few renovations with an eye on bidding to host the Irish Open in the near future. Specifically, major changes are underway on holes No. 1, 2 and 17. Although these three holes were altered with temporary greens, the course was a very good test. It’s also home to some of the most dramatic sand dune routed holes these “Irish” eyes have seen.
The 18th green surrounding, with ocean to the right and a large, fairly flat and well manicured chip/pitch area to the left, is very reminiscent of the area around #18 at Kiawah’s Ocean Course. It’s a magnificent setting for a finishing hole.
We had four players under par on the day, led by our Assistant Coach, and former PGA TOUR (sic) player, Scott Gump at 67. I believe Ben and Thomas led team play in birdies. Several players posted scores in the 71-73 range.
After play, a few players walked the beach adjacent to the course, taking advantage of an all around very nice weather day for this latitude in October.
Monday, Oct. 19
There’s something serene (and very cool!) about taking the tee box, as the day’s first starting time, a few seconds after the golf course staff sets the tee markers in place.
The approach to the Par 5 second hole at Lahinch. Don’t let the backdrop distract you as bunkers await! pic.twitter.com/9jzx5WXu6v
— Jim Kubinski (@NDcoachKubinski) October 19, 2015
Whenever one of your course designers is Old Tom Morris, you can feel comfortable with the label “historic” attached to your club.
Lahinch is an incredible blend of seaside, town side, road side and blind side holes…in the best possible way. The unique 5th hole, a Par 3 where the green cannot be seen from the tee, is is a design none our players will ever experience in college golf tournaments. I did see several birdies on #5 this morning though (Matt Rushton, Liam Cox and Thomas Steve jump to mind).
Lahinch even has goats to keep things organized. pic.twitter.com/e7SFWeAWff
— Notre Dame Mens Golf (@NDMensGolf) October 19, 2015
Whether playing a shot with the quaint beach town in the background, hearing the ocean waves while awaiting your playing partner’s shot or working your way up #18, along the roadside stone wall, Lahinch is another of the very special golf clubs we’re playing this week.
Our players thoroughly enjoyed learning the course, the friendly competition and walking the same land Old Tom Morris walked over 120 years ago.
Tuesday, Oct. 20
After a long travel day and then three fantastic days of golf on the Emerald Isle, Tuesday saw us on holiday. We traveled a touch over anhour from our new home base in Waterville to Killarney, just before Noon.
The commute ran along the Ring of Kerry and included the Gap of Dunloe. It was one of the most scenic rides one could imagine, with incredible peaks and valleys, all along the Atlantic Ocean. The Gap of Dunloe is a nearly 7 mile mountain pass that encompasses five lakes, which are connected by the River Loe. Within this area is the”Wishing Bridge,” where legend has it that wishes made from this bridge come true.
Arriving in Killarney, we first visited Ross Castle, built in the 15th Century, before driving to the center of town for a lunch upstairs at Corcoran’s. I recommend the smoked salmon and mashed potatoes lunch!
— Jim Kubinski (@NDcoachKubinski) October 20, 2015
While Killarney has its fair share of quaint pubs, the town includes dozens and dozens of wonderful little shops. We broke into small groups and spent an hour visiting various shops in search of mementos to bring home to family and friends before journeying back to Waterville.
Holiday complete, it was time to enter our tournament mode!
Wednesday, Oct. 21
Our practice round day. I particularly enjoyed greeting the participating coaches and spending time with Waterville Golf Links’ Mr. Jay Connolly.
Mr. Connolly is part of the ownership group at Waterville, also serving as Membership Chairman, and the driving force behind our hosting of the Jerry Murray/Waterville Invitational. Time spent with Mr. Connolly is time much enjoyed. He certainly made our boys, and all participating players and coaches, feel right at home at spectacular Waterville.
The golf course showed us a steady wind out of the Southwest at 16-18 mph today, which was a break from what the wind can be here. It is one of the most demanding links courses in the world, with 71 (-1), recorded by famed Tony Jacklin in 1975, still standing as the competitive course record from the championship tees.
Welcome to Waterville!! Practice round today in preparation for the tournament. pic.twitter.com/ywnbIttyc5
— Notre Dame Mens Golf (@NDMensGolf) October 21, 2015
I probably can’t explain exactly what pure golf is but my feeling walking this Tom Fazio layout is that it’s pure golf. You must drive the ball well, won’t hit many short irons to speak of, and rely on excellent putting to offset the great challenges of distance controlling the steady winds.
All competitors are now settling in for their rest tonight and looking forward to the three day competition awaiting us at Waterville.
Thursday, Oct. 22
The tournament kicked off Thursday morning under fair but cool and breezy conditions. Max Miller of Texas A&M posted 67, which was five shots clear of the next best score and thought to be a new competitive course record (breaking legendary Tony Jacklin’s 71 in 1975). The Waterville committee ultimately ruled against the 67 as we had moved up a few tees to compensate for the wind direction. Interestingly, we played the course about 200 or so yards shorter than the tips, which was about the distance Tony played at in ’75. Of course, today’s equipment makes all courses play shorter than years ago. No matter how it’s considered in terms of the record book, Max’s round was very special and ended up being the tournament low by five shots.
Our boys got off to a tough start through the first three or four holes but steadied enough to keep us in touch with UNCW and Texas A&M. Two freshmen, Miguel and Ben, led us with rounds of 75, which were Top-15.
Friday, Oct. 23
The sea was angry that day, my friends. The fury of the North Atlantic was felt all around Waterville Golf Links, with sideways rain most of the round and winds steady at 20-25mph, gusting to nearly 40 mph. Only three players, of the 40, broke 80 with Maynooth’s James Sugrue’s 72 leading the way, six clear of the day’s second best score. Our freshman Miguel Delgado was one of the three rounds under 80 (79), while ND junior Matt Rushton posted 80, tying the day’s fourth best score.
Our team stayed in touch, angling for low American team, as we trailed Texas A&M by eight and UNCW by seven heading to the last day. Counting four scores each day, we felt we could make up the two shots per player and pass our USA competition with a very good final round.
Saturday, Oct. 24
Sunshine guided us around the course most of the day, with a strong wind out of the Northwest. Our team simply didn’t make the putts to get enough momentum going. The effort was there. A little more experience and a couple more putts would have seen us through.
– Brant Ust (@NDBrantUst) October 24, 2015
Our team had a fantastic trip to Ireland, one each of us will always remember. We must thank Waterville Golf Links and the staff of Carr Golf for their tremendous assistant and hospitality. Ireland treated us exceedingly well, something we’re blessed for and very appreciative of.
It’s now back to the USA, with an eye on working toward a winning Spring season!
— Compiled by Dan Colleran, Athletics Communications Associate Director