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Ireland and Scotland: A Journey, by Nick Keeley, Turfgrass Science major

Posted: May 31, 2017

There are no words to describe what I gained in my trip to Ireland and Scotland that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.
Standing on the 9th tee of Trump Turnberry in front of the historic lighthouse

Standing on the 9th tee of Trump Turnberry in front of the historic lighthouse

My time over the pond in different countries is one that I will never forget for the rest of my life.  I had the opportunity to visit Ireland and Scotland with my fellow students and faculty of Penn State to compare and contrast golf courses and agronomics of turf between the United States and United Kingdom.  This was all possible through TURF 499A, a foreign studies class.  This trip gave me valuable knowledge in golf course maintenance, diverse cultures, and societal communication that I will use for my future career in turf grass management.

Upon arriving at the Shannon Airport in Ireland, our first destination was Adare Manor.  While currently under construction, this course is rich in history dating back to the 17th century.  Ballybunion Golf Club and Royal Curragh Golf Club followed as we received tours of the course and maintenance shops, learning about the history and basics of the turfgrass.  It was truly astounding to be standing on the course at Ballybunion along the shore with the breathtaking views and surreal landscape.  The sight of sheep grazing the grass at Royal Curragh was an eye-opener as it shows the tradition of golf courses in Ireland.

Our next location was Dublin, Ireland, the city filled with majestic buildings and old architecture.  The trip was not all about turf and golf as we toured the Guinness Storehouse to take in some Irish culture.  The birthplace of whiskey was another destination as we also toured the Jameson Distillery.  It was interesting to see how each alcoholic drink is made as Ireland takes pride in their beer and liquor.  Croke Park was another sight to see as we learned more about athletic field maintenance.

Scotland was next as we landed at Glasgow Airport to drive to Trump Turnberry.  This course has hosted major championships in golf and has been in the process of renovations with the help of billionaire and owner, Donald Trump.  Turnberry has the historic lighthouse attraction on the coast of the course.  A drive to Loch Lomond was next to take in the sights of the ruins and incredible views of the loch.  These courses in Scotland are nothing like the United States as it was staggering to see in person.   

We then finally arrived in St. Andrews, the Home of Golf.  I had been wanting my whole life to visit a historical place of golf where many professional golfers call the best course in the world.  There are no words to describe the scene of St. Andrews, as it was truly breathtaking to see in person.  I had the opportunity to play a round on the New Course, which I will never forget.  I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to visit St. Andrews, as it was the pinnacle of the trip for me.   

My journey to Ireland and Scotland was an experience of a lifetime that I will remember for as long as I live.  I am glad I took advantage of this opportunity to go on this trip as I gained valued skills in turf management and how to interact with your peers.  There are no words to describe what I gained in my trip to Ireland and Scotland that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.