What I know about golf could be written on a postage stamp – I know you play on a green, with irons and the aim is to hit a small white ball into a numbered hole (1-18) in as few hits as possible. But you don’t need to know much about golf to read and enjoy this book. I’d imagine knowing some of the courses will bring readers down a a memory lane and they will enjoy the nostalgic but there is plenty in it for the non-golfer too. I read ‘Around Ireland with a fridge’ many years ago and I guess this is the most similar book I have read since.
Kevin Markham has the task of playing every single links golf course in Ireland and as he is evaluating them in a book (Hooked – already published) the golf courses seem happy to let him play for free. His untrustworthy camper van, affectionately known as Rusty, is not made so welcome though as it is viewed with horror by Mercedes and Jaguar driving golf players not to mention the managers of the golf club car parks.
I started reading it last weekend when judging the Blue Jean contest in Athboy and as one of the other judges plays golf, I got him to explain the terms ‘under par, birdie, eagle and albatross’ to me and then the book made a lot more sense! ?Driving the Green doesn’t just recount the beautiful scenery of the golf courses amongst the Kerry mountains and the Wicklow hills, it provides an amusing look at our roadways, the knuckle-gripping narrow roads of Kerry, the religious hitchhikers, the danger of being the only man in a bar where there is a fashion show and wondering if his campervan in the carpark might be visited.
One story sums up the Celtic Tiger with her careless abandon and desperation to show off. A group of golfers (carpenters and builders) invite Markham to play and to join in with their bet. The ‘5’ doesn’t refer to five euros though but to five hundred euros. If that wasn’t enough, if one player managed a birdie or an eagle, the others had to pay him ?250. Markham played but stayed out of the bet, realising afterwards that the game would have cost him ?3,400. Crazy times indeed. It wasn’t even the money, it was the lack of golf etiquette that the betting causes as players cheered if one of them hit a bad shot.
The description of some of Ireland’s beauty and magnificence just might make you want to take off in a campervan on your own, albeit a more modern and comfortable version than Rusty. ‘Benbulbin has a menace about it, like it is ploughing through the landscape towards the ocean.’ ?Even our drizzly mornings sound attractive ‘The morning was accompanied by a mist so keep and lifeless you could have leant out of the window and cut off a piece.‘
I also enjoyed the description of the farmer stopping in the middle of the road, not at all perturbed by the backlog in traffic he might be causing, claiming it was a ‘slow day’. I think many of us could do with ‘slow days’ sometimes.
Read Driving The Green for an insight into Ireland at a particular time in history as well as enjoying its humourous stories and its recounting of beautiful scenery. Available in all good bookshops and here on Amazon.