He can't hit driver and his putting is a joke, so trying to follow a caddie's advice around Adare Manor was torture for our travel man. And don't get him started on valet parking
Coffee snobs, drone flyovers of golf courses, taxis that arrive early then call you repeatedly to tell you they’re there and Formula One are four strong contenders to join the one certainty in my Room 101 – valet parking.
It’s just annoying, with nothing that is remotely close to an advantage and a number of indisputable disadvantages.
I have the ability to park a car, as I do so on every other occasion I’m not staying at a fancy hotel, and I can also manage to wheel the baggage that’s in my car 150 yards down a path, just as I do on every other occasion I am not arriving at a fancy hotel.
But while my parking is fine, thanks, what I might well do is forget to grab an extra sleeve of balls from the boot of my car.
Or unplug my phone charger from the USB point.
Or bring in the bottle of Diet Coke I bought en route do so I don’t have to give in to the mini bar.
And if I do that and then want to get any of these items when my car has been parked in some mysterious destination, I have to go and ask for it to be brought round, wait seven minutes while that happens, get the balls/lead/Coke and then explain that they can then instantly take it back to the mysterious destination.
Even more infuriatingly, it also means I can’t leave my clubs in the car and just grab them when I am going to play.
So they have to come into the hotel too or, even worse, be whisked off to ‘club storage’, which adds to the endless number of tags I have to safeguard in order to retrieve my own luggage/car/clubs.
To top it off, when I need to leave for the airport and am checking out 15 minutes later than any sane human being would in order to make the flight, the valet parking will make me seven further minutes late. (Yes I know I should factor it in.)
Even if there isn’t valet parking or I’ve (very satisfyingly) somehow beaten the system by finding the car park, I also hate my bags being wrestled from my grasp when I enter every fancy hotel, knowing full well they will arrive in my room 10 minutes after I do despite me having to spend time checking in.
‘Wrestled’ is exactly what it’s been like on occasion, especially in the Middle East, where the bell boys view it as a sleight if you insist on somehow being able to lift/pull the very same bags you lift/pull whenever you aren’t in their hotel.
I’ve used various methods to get round this scenario, ranging from Neanderthal-esque physicality coupled with a dismissive stare, to stealing my own bags from a trolley, to challenging a concierge that I will beat the bags to the room.
I know. I’m an awful, pathetic, awkward man who needs to get less annoyed about people fussing over him. But I’ve had four decades playing this role and it’s going to take some time to forget it.
(Stop worrying, there is some golf coming now.)
So bearing in mind my views on valet parking and concierge services, imagine the deep, deep horror that goes through my head when I am told I’m being gifted a caddie for one of my most eagerly anticipated rounds of the year.
Part of this horror included flashbacks to the two caddies I’ve had before (I should have had two others but managed to talk my way out of them). While those two previous instances weren’t totally awful, like valets and concierges, they are largely just hard work.
Anyway, that’s the background to meeting Eoghan by the caddiemaster’s station at Adare Manor.
Oh, and not just Eoghan, but also the pro that was going to play with me.
So that’s a caddie and a pro watching me play the 2026 Ryder Cup course. Oh joy.
It was also raining at this point, I was poised to use clubs I’d never set eyes on before, and my previous round had ended with two double bogeys including one shot where ball may have liaised with hosel.
So I had a few negatives running through my tiny mind as we walked down to the 1st tee of this Tom Fazio-remodelled course, which we ranked No. 8 in our Irish Top 100.
I did then think of a positive to cancel out one of those negatives; a caddie will be quite useful in the rain. He will surely keep the golf bag and contents drier than I’d manage to. He will deal with the umbrella. He will probably even towel off the odd grip.
But just as quickly as a negative is cancelled, another returns; I remember I have to tackle ‘the driver issue’. Or rather, ‘my driver issue’.
The issue being, I don’t hit driver. A driver has not been seen in my own bag for some eight years now. It’s one of three things in life I’m scared of, along with snakes and being hungry.
I know new-look Adare is all about wide-open fairways where you can’t lose a ball other than in water, so it’s a course where everyone will thump their longest club on all but the par 3s.
Thus, a caddie will expect to hand it to their charge on as many as 14 occasions.
So I know I need to grasp the nettle to save him the increasing bewilderment of me mumbling something about “getting it in play”. Everywhere is in play at Adare!
He greets the news with the insouciant shrug of a man who has heard far worse from his charge, but also a little thought surely ran through his mind about just how bad I must be with a driver.
Anyway, quite a nice 3-wood down the middle of the 1st might have encouraged him to think he had a Scottish Stenson on his hands for the day, but I soon dismissed that theory with a pathetic flail off the next.
I made a total mess of the 2nd in fact, and the 3rd was the worst-looking bogey you’ve ever seen.
Making things worse was the fact I had worked out from a few (non-boastful) comments he had made that he had in the past been more or less Ireland’s best amateur. He also caddies at proper places like Lahinch.
So I’m thinking that while he can probably finesse a 3-iron about 20 feet off the ground into a wind and get it to travel 200 yards, this utter clown whose bag he’s carrying can barely locate the golf course with a teed-up 3-wood in barely a puff of wind. And it’s stopped raining.
So on the 4th tee, fearing yet more of his sage instructions had negligible chance of being executed successfully, I try to lighten the (my) mood by joking that we all know that whatever sage instructions he gives me have negligible chance of being executed successfully.
It kind of works in the sense the ball gets airborne in roughly the direction of the fairway and is followed by a workmanlike approach.
The worst, it turns out, was over – even if there were still a few notable lows to come. The problem, I diagnosed on the 6th tee, was that I was trying too hard to carry out his advice. It was basically like playing foursomes with someone off 1.
Worst still, I really didn’t want to seem like a know-it-all buffoon who was ignoring him.
The fact is, I’m just not good enough at this game to always hit it down the line of the tallest tree on the left half of the fairway, and I’m definitely not good enough to putt the ball with just enough pace on it to fall over the top of that mound on the 6th green.
Eoghan knows the game though, and I’m sure worked this out for himself. But even if he didn’t, he was absolutely brilliant company and so good to have on my side. The same was true of Mark.
In fact by the end of the opening nine something resembling golf shots were produced.
More importantly, the chat was so good that it meant those two were comfortable enough to make jokes at my expense when I got a long putt up the ninth green barely halfway to the hole.
And equally, I enjoyed giving him a ‘look’ when I mysteriously airmailed two greens with good shots after he had handed me his chosen iron.
By now I am, against all expectation, actually loving having a caddie. My laughable pace putting renders his expert green reading often redundant, but otherwise the partnership is working quite well.
He worked out my strengths (lols) and weaknesses in the same way a pro would in a first lesson, and advised club selection and targets accordingly.
It took him probably a hole or two longer than it might to realise my long putting is a complete joke but my chipping is OK, which I’m sure is probably because most people he caddies for find the flatstick a better way to deal with Adare’s steep, mown-down greenside banks than a wedge.
By the back nine, he knew. In fact I’m pretty sure by 6pm that night his mates back in Lahinch also knew about the unfathomable putting inadequacies of this eejit.
But generally this bromance flourished; I was SO delighted when I managed to do what he told me to do. It was hilariously child-like in its nature.
And there were other benefits. I went to reach for my waterproof on the 7th green but he tells me to hold off because by the time we are on the 8th tee it will have passed. Sure enough, by the time he’s handing me the 3-wood, which by now is automatic, it’s gone.
I was eventually actually willing some clouds to come over so we could test whether he could predict the length and timing of showers.
By the time the sun came out for the stellar closing quartet, the chat was non-stop tales from the caddie shack.
The story on the 15th, possibly the best hole on the course, was so funny I barely remember a yard of it so went back out later for a recap.
Then after a good if punchy 3-wood on a Tiger line on the par-5 18th that I think Eoghan was quietly proud I’d somehow produced, I agonisingly hit my attempt at finding the green into the Maigue.
As another ball landed at my feet within seconds, my new BFF told me I had been aligned wrongly, squared me up, and this time I smacked it onto dry land.
After the final three-putt of the day, it was time for handshakes, pictures and passing on contact details.
We’ve already exchanged emails and if I’m every lucky enough to be invited back to Adare Manor – which is the best single-course golf resort in the world – there’s no way I’m letting anyone else but Eoghan hand me a 3-wood 14 times.
As I walked back to my room, it made me wonder if I am being too harsh on valet parking and concierges.
I’m not, they are just a nonsense.
Until they can come up with stories as good as Eoghan’s about the middle-aged American lady he caddied for earlier this year, that is…