The first question I ask myself when I attempt to rate a golf course is, how keen am I to pay it a return visit? The golf course is important, but so is the locale. In the case of Glasson Lakehouse Hotel and golf course beside Lough Ree in County Westmeath it surpassed all of my criteria with an unexpected bonus. I like it when a course that I visit is in a lovely setting near an attractive and interesting town.
I want to return to such a place because how can one fully appreciate it on just one visit? Once the pleasant meandering drive of only 8.6Km from the historic town of Athlone is completed, one enters the stunning, lakeside grounds of the beautiful Glasson Lakehouse, which has recently undergone a magnificent upgrade and refurbishment that results in a truly unique hotel in a stunning setting with so many facilities and activities besides the golf that two visits is still not enough.
Acquired by Press Up Hospitality Group in 2019, the company has added ‘magic’ to the property and David Jones, the course architect and former tour player, has done likewise with the magnificent final six holes which isn’t to say that the late Christy O’Connor Junior was in anyway ‘off form’ when he designed and built the first 12-holes.
In keeping with their portfolio of hotels, such as The Mayson, The Clarence, The Devlin, and The Dean, now in Dublin, Cork and Galway, a series of design renovations have been made across the entire hotel, including bedrooms, newly added rooms, the main function room, general event spaces, the bar and restaurant, a customized outdoor dining area, a brand-new sleek outdoor swimming pool and a new boutique spa. Bursting with charm, the hotel oozes with a relaxed hospitality.
As for the bonus: a rainy morning meant 9-holes was all my wife managed to play but we were presented the opportunity for an overdue, indoor, putting lesson with Lynn McCool, Glasson’s resident golf professional and director of golf in her impressive, state of the art, teaching academy.
When a fellow gets along in years, it’s not his tee shots that let him down. It’s the putting that goes first, and do you know why? The legs! They’re not up to the steady immobility needed for a solid stance. When the eight-footers begin to look like eighteen footers and they don’t drop for you consistently any longer – that’s when you know your old. Lynn is far too tactful to say anything so brutally frank. She preferred to say: ‘Diligent drill-work” is the key to putting well and that was the mantra I picked up from her.
McCool is a former Irish amateur international golfer and European Tour professional from Strabane, Northern Ireland. Since retiring from the gruelling competitive circuit, Lynn has applied her infectious enthusiasm and energy to teaching the game and loves nothing better than imparting her keen knowledge gained through years of dedication, helping other golfers to improve their skills. She especially enjoys coaching small groups in specifically-designed game development environments that can speed up improvement dramatically. That she does it with a smile and easy quips makes her lessons fun too.
“As putting comprises 40% of the strokes executed during a round of golf, it is often spoken of as a game within a game whose importance cannot be over-emphasized. Long drives and accurate approach shots are of little use if the putts are not converted consistently, whereas, a shaky ball-striking performance can often be overcome by sound putting. In the end, the game at all levels boils down to sinking those 5-foot putts,” says Lynn with a determined glint.
Putting is different from the other parts of golf because it does not require any special body strength, flexibility or athletic ability. Putting is the same as other parts of the game in that the player’s main task is to ensure that the clubface is always square at impact. Putting is more of an art than a mechanical science and the sooner you can master the basic mechanics and begin treating putting as an art that depends on imagination, visualization, touch and feel the better.
I had heard it all before but I needed a strong reminder that any movement in the lower half of the body will throw the clubface off line immediately. Having a friend holding a golf club tight against your thighs or hip will prevent you from moving. Stay steady and listen for the drop! Practice makes perfect only if the practice is perfect!
“Practice ‘speed-putting’ morning, noon and night (check). Leaving the first putt ‘dead’ beside the hole save a lot of angst. Golf is a scoring game and good scoring boils down to holing those 5-foot putts” says Lynn (never were truer words spoken). There was a lot more to the lesson than that including plenty of laughs too. I loved my time at Glasson but it was Lynn’s lesson bonus that I remember best. Thank you, Lynn!