Pat Ruddy – writer and architect – on links golfDecember 19, 2012 Golf Equipment
The Irishman's views on links golf are pure gold dust
WHAT MAKES A LINKS?
âThe best definition I ever heardÂ was from a book in the 1950s onÂ the links courses of Great BritainÂ and Ireland and it talked aboutÂ âthe sandy deposits that link theÂ beach to the soilâ.
âNow, this can come aboutÂ from either receding seas or byÂ being among the sand dunes.Â âOriginally, people said theyÂ were âgoing to the linksâ and it wasÂ nothing to do with golf at thatÂ stage.
âI guess how far inland orÂ above sea level a course can be andÂ still be a links depends on how farÂ in or up the sand could be blown.
âWhether itâs a poor links or aÂ good links is another question butÂ if it is links land then thereâs yourÂ answer. Modern machinery canÂ help a great deal but doesnâtÂ fundamentally change whetherÂ somewhere is a links or not.
âNature canât be put into a boxÂ and a ribbon put round it.â
YOUR FAVOURITEÂ LINKS IN BRITAIN?
âCan you give me three? Birkdale,Â Turnberry (right) and Muirfield.Â Theyâve got lots of sand. They areÂ beautifully presented for golf,Â nicely defined and they encourageÂ you to play good golf.
âAnd St Andrews, thatâs a placeÂ that makes us cry.
âThey are clearly set up.Â Definition is the key. I like aÂ course with definition. Itâs theÂ same with art. I donât like pale,Â washed-out colours and blurredÂ lines. You need to be able to seeÂ the penalties and also the rewards.
âThereâs too much talk of theÂ penalties these days, weâre all cryÂ babies. I prefer to look at theÂ rewards and the sense ofÂ achievement, but you canât haveÂ that without some penalties forÂ failure.â
HOW DO YOU VIEWÂ BLIND SHOTS?
âBlind shots are OK inÂ moderation, like everything else. IÂ donât think they necessarily fit wellÂ in this day and age. The game isÂ expensive the days and we do soÂ much more travelling. People onlyÂ play courses once. They donât likeÂ hitting at a post and finding theirÂ ball in a bunker or some rough.
âItâs wonderful for those of usÂ who know. The experience ofÂ rushing, if youâre young enough âÂ to the top of the hill to find outÂ where your ball has finished. DidÂ it roll on to the green or fall intoÂ the bunker?
âYou need a variety. The peopleÂ who make boxes of chocolatesÂ offer you a selection. When youÂ go to a restaurant you areÂ presented with a menu.â
"At this time of year it is the time for the linksmen to rejoice; you can play all 12 months of the year." â Ruddy ARE LINKS THE BESTÂ FORM OF THE GAME?
âI like all types of golf but I donâtÂ enjoy it so much when itâs wet andÂ my ball plugs when it lands. I donâtÂ like finishing my round with myÂ shoes covered in mud and myÂ trousers muddy up to my knees.
âAt this time of year it is theÂ time for the linksmen to rejoice;Â you can play all 12 months of theÂ year. I played on a links oneÂ January where they were usingÂ temporary tees and I asked themÂ why and they said to preserve theÂ proper tees. I asked them whatÂ they were saving it for and toldÂ them: this is your time.â
YOUR VIEWS ON YOURÂ MODERN IRISH LINKS?
Sandy Hills at Rosapenna is aÂ giant and truly lovely new links.Â This moves over and through theÂ great dunes which the Old MastersÂ chose to ignore, perhaps becauseÂ of the lack of capital andÂ machinery, and presents numerousÂ Hallelujah moments, the chief ofÂ which is the view of ocean andÂ mountain and golf as one crestsÂ the fairway on the 6th. BallyliffinÂ is another miracle of the age. ItÂ has an âold linksâ dating from theÂ 1940s and the new Glashedy links.Â Six lovely new holes were createdÂ on the old (7th, 8th, 12th, 13th,Â 15th and 16th) to allow theÂ Glashedy to get out from theÂ clubhouse into the vast dunesÂ beyond with gratifying results.
The Glashedy is a thoroughlyÂ modern links devoid of blindnessÂ but with the same dunes turbulence and scenery as RoyalÂ County Down and BallybunionÂ but with the added benefit ofÂ intensive attention to the demandsÂ of the modern game. There isÂ nothing dated here and the wiseÂ selection of tees will give everyÂ golfer a great experience.
WHAT ABOUT AÂ HIDDEN GEM?
Portsalon was a charmingÂ throwback to a bygone age whenÂ I was called in by the club in theÂ early 90s. Criss-cross holes,Â some blind, which worked wellÂ in the quiet old days had to go toÂ cater for busier times and theÂ links needed to be stretched fromÂ less than 6,000 yards to just underÂ 7,000 yards. Twelve new holesÂ were created in the process andÂ one of the big talking pointsÂ concerns two new double greens.Â Murvagh (Donegal) was designedÂ by the late Eddie Hackett butÂ needed updating and the club hasÂ been proactive in this regard sinceÂ 1992 in which time we haveÂ redesigned holes 1, 2, 4, 9, 12, 13,Â 14, 16 and 18. This is now a trueÂ oasis of golfing splendour.