11.4 C
Dublin
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
- Advertisement -

A chance meeting on a Dublin bus

Must read

Empty galleries at the Memorial as time runs out for the Ryder Cup

While the PGA Tour pulled the plug on an army of spectators invading Memorial, our ears remain pricked for Ryder Cup organisers to finally make a decision over the fate of this year's tournament

Open Championship – Top-10 Greatest Hits – #2

In 1998, a little known English amateur named Justin Rose very nearly pulled off one of the greatest shocks the sport has ever seen. Tomorrow we reveal our number one - any guesses for what claims our top spot?

Fun and Games*

Fairways and FunDays is a leading Irish inbound golf tour operator trending in the right direction despite the challenges thrown up by Covid-19

Open Championship – Top-10 Greatest Hits – #3

No Italian golfer had ever come close to winning the Open Championship, but at the 124th staging of the venerable event in 1995, Bergamo-born Constantino Rocca was in contention coming to the final two holes

We met briefly on the Dublin Airport bus in 2013. We discussed the weather prospects; no more no less. He asked me for advice on where he and his wife, Diane, should rest their weary, travelers’ bones that evening and where and how they might go – to maximize their short, four-day stay in Ireland. I gave it my best shot and handed him my business card “just in case you run into any difficulty”.

From a Munich Hotel about two weeks later, my casual Australian acquaintance, Ian Noyce, dashed off a ‘thank you’ note via email, to say everything had worked out much as I had advised and that he would like to return the compliment sometime by making me as welcome in his country as I had made him in mine.

He then surprised me by telling me that ‘out of curiosity’ he had ‘googled’ my name on the web and had been taken aback that he had been talking to one of the world’s most infamous golf nuts and proceeded to invite me, if ever I found myself in Australia, to come and play over his personal 13-acre, 9-hole, par-3, golf course in the bush lands behind his home at Mount Clear, Ballarat, Victoria.

“Next April we will be celebrating the 20th-Anniversary of the opening of my little, golf course: Noycelands. I must warn you nobody has ever broken par on it. I’d love to see if you can do it. There is nothing more relaxing after a week of intensive work than enjoying a quiet game of golf behind my house, blowing off steam with a few ‘hits’ and a few beers with my mates. You’d be made very welcome.”

Typical of my infamous, golf nut behavior I wrote back immediately and said: “I’ll come!” The full truth was that my wife and I were already well advanced in planning a 3-month trip to New Zealand, beginning in the following January. Besides, as soon as I saw a photograph of the Noycelands golf course featuring a kangaroo standing on the first green, my curiosity was aroused, and I just knew I was destined to play it. Even the slightly scary notion of trampling around in the Australian bush did not deter me and making a detour to Ballarat could easily be fitted into our itinerary.

Six months later, on a scorching, autumn day Aussie-style (33C) Mrs. Golf Nut and I arrived by train at Ballarat Railway Station from Melbourne to be greeted by a brass band of one. Until that precise moment, I was not aware that Ian Noyce is just as ‘notorious’ in the music business as I am in the golfing world.

“I have spent nearly 40-years designing and developing a range of electric and acoustic guitars, basses, mandolins and other hand crafted instruments that I am happy to say have sold well all over the world and are in the hands of some very famous artists, including Ireland,” Noycey told me with a grin.

“I made my first guitar (a steel string acoustic) in 1965. I soon realized that to get a good sound the guitar should be made out of solid wood and the only way I could afford such a guitar was to make it myself. A guitar building and repair business was soon underway. I loved the music trade and got immense satisfaction out of interpreting musician’s needs whether it was a repair job or a commission.”

Suffice to say, we had an unforgettable at ‘Noycelands Golf Club’ – one of the most unusual and enjoyable in my 60-years of playing the game. Hard to believe but the natural features reminded me of photos I have seen of Amen Corner at Fruitfield Farm in Augusta before Bob Jones and Cliff Roberts rode into town and built their golf course. I am not exaggerating when I say, all Noycelands needs is another 100-acres and a ‘few million dollars’ and you could be looking at golfing gold in Mount Clear! It is that dramatic.

There are uphill and downhill shots of varying lengths from 100 to 170-yards that have to be threaded through the narrowest of gaps in the tallest and skinniest of trees. The greens are all placed on ledges presenting unresolvable problems if you happen to miss the brown, extremely fast putting surfaces.

The genius of the design is due to there being a completely different 9-holes of golf to play but only four greens. One tees off from different angles. Most importantly, at no stage are you more than 300-yards from a fridge laden with cool beers. Would I return? You bet I would! My inept effort at breaking the course record fell short but meeting and playing golf with a coterie of the Noyces’ friends made it full of fun and Aussie banter.

A music nut and a golf nut had an instinct about each other when they accidentally met on a Dublin bus. Instinct ‘hit the right note’ and it was the perfect example of what golf (and life) should be about – friendship and sharing.

Footnote: You can expect anything in golf. A stranger comes through. He’s keen for a game. He seems affable enough. By the time you reach the 9th tee you will have found a friend for life or, discovered an idiot – Alistair Cooke

 

New Gear

Shot Scope unveils V3 performance tracking and GPS watch

The new high-performing unisex V3 watch is sure to fit comfortably on the wrist of any golfer and boasts accurate readings to 30 centimeters

Galvin Green hits the shelves with eye-catching 2020 range

Galvin Green has turned to the ‘Science of Excellence’ for inspiration for its 2020 Part Two clothing range launched this month

Big Max introduces lightest ever push trolley

At just 5.4kg, the TI Lite from trolley experts Big Max is a practical dream for golfers wanting to take the edge off their long walk spoiled

Music to our ears – Bushnell Golf introduces Wingman GPS Speaker

The all-in-one device gives golfers access to their favourite music while still providing them audible distance information on the course

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ivan
    You aretruly a golf “fruit and nut case” …. in the very best sense.
    Your stories are all very enjoyable, and incisive.
    Have you any stories of watching your first professional tournament….or as a youngster watching a top amateur, in scratch cups or at the “south”
    Keep the stories and the writing coming.

  2. Hi Ivan,
    You made my morning here in Toronto reading that fantastic story about your Aussie friend. You make reading a story so enjoyable with your writing style.
    Well done keep on writing

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Lowry hoping to rediscover his magic touch on the greens

The Open Champion was speaking ahead of his starring role in a new season of the Lessons with a Champion Golfer, an instructional series which premiered exclusively on GOLFPASS

Empty galleries at the Memorial as time runs out for the Ryder Cup

While the PGA Tour pulled the plug on an army of spectators invading Memorial, our ears remain pricked for Ryder Cup organisers to finally make a decision over the fate of this year's tournament

Open Championship – Top-10 Greatest Hits – #2

In 1998, a little known English amateur named Justin Rose very nearly pulled off one of the greatest shocks the sport has ever seen. Tomorrow we reveal our number one - any guesses for what claims our top spot?

LPGA & LET stars set to return for Ladies Scottish Open

The Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open is on track to take place next month, Aug 13 – 16 at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, marking a return of professional women’s golf

AIG Women’s British Open to be held in 2020

The R&A has confirmed that it intends to play the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon from 20-23 August without spectators due to the Covid-19 pandemic