Kerry McLean: Wouldn't The Open be much more fun if they stuck big windmills on some of the holes?
This week has been a great, worldwide advert for just how beautiful our little spot of the world is, thanks to the global coverage The Open has received. I've had messages and emails from old friends and colleagues in London, America, Canada and one from as far away as Senegal in west Africa, commenting on how stunning our country is and how they'd love to come and play golf over here.
I've had a few hinting and nudging about asking for free accommodation in our house but I've pretended not to pick up the subtext. Mean, I know, but it's like a full-time job, trying to get ready for visitors staying. Every inch of the house has to be scrubbed within an inch of its life, the kids have to be juggled about in an attempt to free up bedrooms and then, when your guests arrive, you have to cook perfect meals and pretend like you're always so organised and tidy. Like a walking, talking Martha Stewart, minus the time spent in jail.
- The Open round three updates: Graeme McDowell bids to make a move up the leaderboard alongside Bubba Watson
- Watch: Rory McIlroy fights back the tears and wins hearts of fans after agonising missed cut at The Open
- Comment: It's a crying shame that Rory McIlroy's heroic effort fell inches short of making The Open cut at Royal Portrush
For friends and family it's a hassle I'm happy to go through; for colleagues I've not spoken to in years, who're looking for a cheap holiday, I'm afraid I'm unwilling and unable to go through it. Instead, I've sent them a list of accommodation available in the area and, strangely enough, have heard nothing back.
I love to travel and I can fully understand how seeing postcard-perfect pictures of here would you make you want to visit. What I can't process is the notion that the desire to play golf would drag you all around the world. It almost feels like heresy, sitting here on the north coast, where it feels like everyone has been golf-obsessed for months, and writing about not liking the sport but I can't help it. To be fair, there are no sports that light up my world. Whatever gene we are born with that makes us enjoy throwing, kicking or hitting a ball is clearly absent from my genome. I love a good walk and a tramp about, whether that be on the beach or in the forest, but the notion of stopping every few hundred yards to hit a ball with a stick and aim it at some flags is a bizarre one for me.
I have had heated discussions with friends who are golfing nuts, who've tried to get me out onto the course and have a go. They tell me that if I play just one game, I'll be hooked. But I'm not convinced…
I remember my Dad being encouraged into giving golf a go back in the Eighties. He and my mum borrowed some golf clubs and, dressed in their comfy slacks, headed off to get a few lessons at a golf course near Bushmills. My Dad was always a sporty soul, growing up playing hurling and football, but it was his greatest sporting love, rugby, which had led him to golf.
He'd broken several fingers and his jaw, dislocated his shoulder on several occasions, completely banjaxed both his knees and been knocked unconscious by the time my Mum said enough was enough and, from that point on, he had to enjoy the sport as a spectator rather than a participant. You'd think, given the long list of injuries obtained over his many years playing, that he'd be happy to hang up his rugby boots but not a bit of it. My Mum talked him into picking up the golf clubs in the hope that it would distract him but, for my Dad, it was just no substitute and the lack of speed and physicality meant that within weeks he'd set down the golf bag for good.
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The only thing that may bend me towards having a go one day is that I have a soft spot for playing crazy golf. When we come across one on holiday, it's a sure bet that I'll be signed up, golf club in hand and giving it a go. So, I'm thinking, to get more non-sporting types like myself interested, wouldn't it be a great idea to fling a big white windmill, a giant's mouth or a pirate's ship over the holes on the greens at the Royal Portrush? I'd love to see Rory, Tiger and the rest tackle that!