Walking up the 18th fairway at Galgorm Castle yesterday during a practice round ahead of this week's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Jonathan Caldwell noted how different everything was.
sually the green would have a long marquee tent running up the left-hand side and a stand at the back housing several hundred spectators cheering on the leading groups at the climax on Sunday afternoon, as well as acting as a backstop for any over-hit shots into the green.
This week, however, there are no fans on the grounds because of Covid-19. That means no stands either, and a much more open approach shot for the players, with far more trouble lurking for the wayward strike.
"It's a bit weird, yeah. Usually your line is somewhere on the stand, but now your eyes shift around and can see a bit more of the danger around the green," laughed Caldwell.
"But we've got used to that over the last few weeks, it just would have been nice to have the atmosphere they usually have around the 18th."
Instead, as has been the case on the European Tour since its resumption from lockdown, it'll be down to the players to make all the noise, with this week's Irish Open set to be a top-quality event at Galgorm.
With a strong field assembled, headlined by Open champion Shane Lowry and Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, there could be a big name lifting the trophy, while there are no fewer than 11 Irishmen in the field hoping they can become the latest home winner after the likes of Lowry, Harrington and Rory McIlroy.
Caldwell is aspiring to be one of those in the mix down the stretch and, given his recent form, it's not unfathomable to think he could be. Although he's ranked only 530th in the world, the 36-year-old has made the cut in each of his last five events and finished tied-eighth at the British Masters after lockdown. He admits he's feeling in a good place after a week off at home.
"After playing eight weeks in a row, I think I was due a week off," grinned Caldwell. "I just chilled out for a week really, I didn't do any practice. I played a couple of times.
"I'd played okay in spells, had some good rounds and some bad rounds. I'm making cuts and playing four rounds each week which is good, it gives me a lot more encouragement."
Galgorm is a place he's well familiar with as well, having competed at both the NI Open, on the EuroPro and Challenge Tours, and last year's World Invitational, finishing in the top 15 at the course on three occasions.
"I've played enough tournament golf here so I know what it's all about. I don't see the scoring going crazy. If we get enough wind and a little bit of rain then it'll play really tricky with the rough up like it is," he added.
"I've played it in these conditions on the Challenge Tour before, so I'll know what to expect."
As for potentially being the one at the top of the leaderboard at the close of play on Sunday? Caldwell admits he hasn't thought that far ahead yet.
"You don't get many opportunities to win anywhere, so to win at home would be amazing, especially an Irish Open. But I'll try not to think about that, I'll just do my best over the four days and see where I finish," he insisted.
"A lot of guys at Clandeboye really wish they could be here, and I have family and friends in the same boat. They'll be watching on TV and hopefully I'll do well enough to warrant air time!"