“Strange Days indeed” sang John Lennon. 2020, Strange Year indeed.
Early December 2019 and things were looking rosy. Upcoming bookings very good for 2020, lots of our regular friends coming back to Ireland to enjoy Ireland’s great links (and the lovely Irish people too .. or so we like telling ourselves!), Christmas round the bend, and a little warm break in the offing to stave off the Irish January Blues.
How the world turns. Initial reports of something doing the rounds in Wuhan were relegated to the obscure inside pages as “we tripped lightly along the way”, merrily making future plans.
The worst of Winter over, The Masters on the horizon, Ireland golf tourist season about to get swinging, and suddenly, our Taoiseach (pronounced ‘t-shock’, aka Prime Minister), fresh from delivering the annual bowl of shamrock to the White House, announces we’re all going into lockdown … for two months! And wouldn’t you know it, an Irish heatwave kicks in. But Golf Courses are deemed out of bounds because clearly 100 people walking around a 150 acre park could be devastating! “Most peculiar Mama”.
But ‘we’re all in this together’ and we’re ‘flattening the curve’, so nothing for it but to hunker down and do our patriotic duty. Generations past sent to faraway places to fight wars, but we must stay indoors and binge on Netflix.
And yet Real Irish Golf remained busy into the Spring, alas the wrong kind of busy. Our customers wondering what the story was in Ireland, the inevitable cancellations of Ireland Golf tour plans, as the full extent of this bat-inflicted carnage becomes impossible to ignore. Dates re-arranged, number of golfers changed, multiple re-bookings, cancellations policies outlined, and everyone working together to make the best of a bad situation. Well almost everyone .. there’s always one, who felt they should just screw us over (no we’re not bitter about that!).
Three months on, the Irish Summer arrives, the virus abates and golf courses re-open. With a greater appreciation of what we missed, and fantastical notions of how we have cracked the game of golf over lock-down, shock, horror, the game remains as elusive, maddening and addictive as ever, but man!, it’s good to be back on the Irish links. In fact for many of the natives, there has never been a better opportunity to enjoy the fairways of Portrush, Royal County Down, Ballybunion and others, because with the decimation of the 2020 Overseas Golf Tourism market, the locals took advantage of great deals to play Ireland’s best links. Silver linings!
” To everything there is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn”. 12 months later and here we are back in lockdown #3! (our last one?). 2020 was a complete washout, but thankfully we have approx. 75% of our deferred 2020 golf tours rescheduled for 2021. Thank you!
Ah, but what’s the current Covid situation in Ireland? Caution mixed with hope. Hope in the form of vaccines that are alraedy in full swing in Northern Ireland. The vaccination program has also just started down South. As the vaccination program rolls out to the most vulnerable, front-line workers, and the elderly, anxiety levels should abate. But as always after 2020, a good dollop of Caution too, as this will take time and there are likely to be a few doglegs along the way.
So we say ‘Feic Off’ to 2020, and we look forward with hope and thanks to 2021. We wish all of you a Happy & Healthy 2021, we hope to see many of our old friends (see pictures!) and new friends back in Ireland in 2021. We leave you with the words of that great Irish Poet, Shane McGowan:
“Happy Christmas, .. , I can see a better time when all our dreams come through”.
© Real Irish Golf