In 2019, Royal Portrush Golf Club will be the host course of the 148th British Open; one of professional golf’s four majors. In the meantime, I’m lucky enough to call Royal Portrush my “home course” until May.
Prior to my arrival in Belfast, I wrote down several things I wanted to do and several courses I wanted to play while abroad. Of course Royal Portrush was near the top of that list as the proximity between campus and the course isn’t that far. To my surprise, I found out the first week that we would have the amazing opportunity to obtain a membership and regularly play the course for University of Ulster’s practices. A membership that feels like royalty.
Unfortunately, our first trip to the course wasn’t with the rest of our teammates as we had hoped. Although Royal Portrush is only about an hour drive from our Jordanstown campus, it’s still a wee bit out of the way for some of our teammates to scoop us up. But not having a ride didn’t stop Dom and I from enjoying the golf, the views and the entertainment. We took the train (which included transferring twice) and nearly two hours later we arrived at one of the most magnificent courses I’ve ever seen. Hauling my clubs with my fluffy dog headcover and getting weird looks from nearly every passenger was most definitely worth it.
My first time at Portrush brought a handful of lost golf balls and a wave of frustration, but watching the fescue subtly blow beneath the setting sun calmed me. On the 18th hole, not only did I quickly forget about the not-so-cheap Pro Vs I lost, but I was reminded of how much passion I have for this game and how happy I am I decided to stop playing other sports for it, even when I felt like giving up.
Playing the last four years as a division one golfer has helped shape my perspective and I wouldn’t trade my years at Siena for anything. However, there were certainly times when competing felt more like a tedious job than an enjoyable hobby. Although I like competing in tournaments, I have recently felt a greater sense of relaxation when carrying my bag walking the course swinging as freely as I please; not feeling like I have to shoot a certain score to feel satisfied. I cannot thank my family, everyone at Locust Hill CC, my swing coaches and everyone at Siena enough for helping me get to where I am today. You helped prepare me for competition and transformed me into an elite golfer. But now I am getting back into the swing of things at a more leisurely pace, thanks to Sport Changes Life and the Rory Foundation. I absolutely love this game, the courses it has allowed me to play on, and the people it has introduced me to. Playing Portrush reminded me how amazing this game is between the life lessons that are learned through it and the beautiful scenery that encapsulates most courses. While I’m not competing as regularly as I once pleased, I’m able to now frequently play for pure bliss and enjoyment. Competing every so often for the UUJ golf team will keep me competitive which I look forward to, but I am also lucky and ecstatic to have rediscovered my love for the game at a less competitive level.