Siena Golf Foreign Tour of Ireland (June 9-14 - BLOG)

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June 7, 2017

LOUDONVILLE, NY - The Siena Men's and Women's Golf teams are set to embark upon a once in a lifetime experience with a foreign tour of Ireland June 9-14. The Saints are slated to play a total of 90 holes on four world-class golf courses scattered throughout Ireland's picturesque County Kerry.

"This foreign tour will be a great opportunity for our student athletes to experience both the culture and world-class golf courses of Ireland," said women's golf head coach Dave Wronowski, who will lead the Siena delegation along with assistant athletic director Ken Grant in the programs first foreign tour since traveling to Scotland in 2013. "We are all extremely appreciative of the support given to make this possible from both the athletic department and Siena College, as this trip will create lasting memories for all involved."

Student athletes from both teams will be submitting frequent blog entries and pictures from their experiences both on the course and from their educational excursion scheduled for Sunday, June 11. Check back during the Saints' foreign tour for updates by scrolling to the blog section towards the bottom of the page.

The travel party is slated to arrive in Shannon on Friday, June 9 to commence their tour coordinated through Carr Golf. Immediately following their arrival, the group will travel to Dooks Golf Club in Glenbeigh for an 18-hole competition against local teams. Founded in 1889, Dooks Golf Club is one of the 10 oldest golf clubs in Ireland. The sea-side course is situated in a corner of Dingle Bay and provides a view of the Atlantic Ocean from nearly every hole, while Ireland's highest mountain range, the McGillycuddy Reeks, overlooks every shot.

On Saturday, the Saints will play Waterville Golf Links in Waterville. Home of the Kerry Cup, Waterville is ranked No. 1 amongst "true links" courses in all of Ireland, and was ranked No. 3 in Golf World's Ireland's Top-100 Courses 2015. The course features a life-sized, bronze statue of Payne Stewart, who accepted the Captaincy of Waterville in the final golf honor he would receive prior to his tragic death.

On Sunday the student athletes will take a break from the course for an educational excursion day. The Saints will have the choice of selecting from one of five options from a visit to historic Blarney Castle, a boat trip to the Blasket Islands including a visit to Gallorus Oratory and the Fahan Beehive Huts, a boat tour around the Skellig Islands, a visit to Killarney National Park including stops at Muckross Park & Gardens, the National Park, Ross Castle and St. Mary's Cathedral, or a boat tour on Loch Leann.

Monday features a round of golf at the Tralee Golf Club situated on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Ardfert. The first European golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, Tralee was featured in the 1970 movie Ryan's Daughter which won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

The Saints' foreign tour concludes with 36 holes on Tuesday at Ballybunion Golf Club in Ballybunion. The teams will play 18 holes apiece on both the Old and Cashen Courses at Ballybunion, which was ranked by Golf Digest in 2005 as the seventh best course in the world outside the United States.

Day One
Entry from Ashley Nguyen

Fáilte to Ireland. Today was extremely exhausting. After 8+ hours of traveling, we finally arrived to Shannon airport and met up with our fellow Saints and their families. We teed off our trip by playing Dooks Golf Club, which was vastly different from the golf back on the East Coast. Eighteen holes in 40 mph winds was challenging yet thrilling. The current Siena players played in a best ball match play format, against a local team out in Glenbeigh. Tanner Donovan and Ashley Nguyen won their match as well as Sara Riso and Jack Bellardini.

After a long round of playing in the rain, we all napped on the bus and headed to our hotel in Killarney. The town is located on the shores of Lough Leane in southwest Ireland's County Kerry. The students and parents headed to dinner in the town, and enjoyed the culture Ireland has. That evening, we enjoyed our night with our new Irish friends that we played golf against earlier that day. We cannot wait to see what the rest of the trip has in store for us.

Entry from Jack Bellardini

Everyone was excited about the trip and it showed when everyone met at the airport. Despite long drives, a long flight, and a subsequent two and a half hour bus trip, we arrived at the first golf course exhausted yet full of energy to play.

The playing conditions were exactly what you would expect in Ireland - completely green landscapes with high winds and grey sky. While the parents played golf together we played with a local team, and each of those players was very friendly and enjoyed playing with us.

So far the trip is amazing and I truly appreciate all the effort to make such a wonderful trip happen. I look forward to experiencing the rest of this golf trip, as it will definitely become a lifetime memory.

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Day Two
Entry from Sara Riso

After our first (and much needed) night's rest, we took off for Waterville Golf Club. While on the way, our bus driver gave us some nice background information about various places that we passed through. One town he spoke about was Killorglin and they have a three-day festival every August. It is called "Puck Fest" and what they do is pick any goat from a nearby mountainside and spoil him for those three days. They groom him in all ways imaginable and feed him the best food, even putting a crown on his head. During this celebration, he is put up on a pedestal so people can see and honor him until the last day of the festival when they bring the goat back to where they found him. Around 30,000 people come to see this goat each year.

Waterville was a spectacular golf course, one unlike any other course I have ever seen. The winds were about 40 miles per hour with gusts that must've been up to 50 mph at least. It was also the first round of our little competition within the group that we titled "The Shamrock." The conditions mixed with the toughness of the course made it a real grind out there, but we all had a lot of fun. It was another great day in Ireland and we can't wait for more.

Entry from Jack Downey

Our second round of golf was at Waterville golf links, originally a nine-hole course. It opened in 1889 and has since become 18 holes. On each hole there is a plaque that tells the players some history about the area where the course sits. The 16th hole is called Liam's Ace which is a par-4, 386 yards where the pro Liam had a hole in one and reflected on how strong the winds can be at Waterville.

The Kerry Bog Village, located on the Ring Of Kerry gives you insight into how people lived and worked in Ireland in the 18th Century. The small group of houses has been preserved and is now a museum that still has a blacksmith. The village now lets animals roam the lands, one animal being the near extinct Kerry Pony.

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Day Four
Entry from Marisa Fiorina

Today, we played Tralee Golf Club, which is an 18-hole course designed by Arnold Palmer himself. The course has spectacular views of the beach on almost every hole, while also having views of the beautiful green Irish landscape in the distance. Arnold Palmer described designing the front nine of Tralee on his own, but that God designed the back nine of the course, which truly applies to how the course looked and played. Like our round at Waterville, we played matches within our foursomes, which were made up of our parents and teammates. Tralee was by far my favorite course because it was in great condition, the views were spectacular, and the design of the course was amazing. The weather was pretty decent, as we got no rain and the winds weren't as bad as Waterville, so overall Tralee was a great experience for all of us.

As we have been in Ireland for a couple days now, we have been learning a lot about the Irish culture. We were able to watch the "Traditional Irish Night," where couples would dance to traditional Irish music that was very different from American music and dance. Even on a dreary Monday, the town of Killarney was lively with music, dancing, shopping, and food that the whole team was able to indulge in. Although very different from American culture, we all loved to experience how the Irish live. This trip so far has been a trip of a lifetime and one we all will never forget!

Entry from James Pelcher

I thought Tralee was one of the most beautiful courses I've ever played, if not the most beautiful. You had a view of the ocean on almost every hole, which I thought was awesome. The course was difficult, but it wasn't impossible, especially the front nine. I hope I get the chance to play this course again sometime in my life because it was definitely in my top-3 courses I've ever played.

I've heard a lot of great things about Ireland, and I can say that I was fortunate to experience alot of them. The one thing that I have learned is that Ireland is way more beautiful then I expected. The many mountains and beaches were a surprise to me. I also learned that they have some interesting traditions, for example, a goat which is selected every year and treated like royalty.

Entry From Tanner Donovan

On our trip in Ireland we got to play so many fantastic courses. On our second to last day there, we were able to play Tralee Golf Links set right on the ocean in the town of Tralee. The course was designed by Arnold Palmer in the late 1970's, and it was his first course he ever designed in Europe. He would tell everyone that he designed the front nine and God designed the back. The back nine is set more on the open ocean and has many dunes that come into play on the golf course.

These golf courses really have taught all of us more about the game of golf. Courses like Tralee really test your golf game. With being right on the ocean, the wind is always a huge factor. This forces you to work all kinds of shots. In the U.S. you don't learn how to hit the ball like they do in Ireland. The Irish know how to hit the ball low and keep it below the wind. By the end of the trip we all had to learn how to hit it low in order to keep our balls out of the ocean. Ireland has definitely given us the ability to bring different types of shots back home to the states.

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Day Five
Entry From Jake Holt

We arrived at Ballybunion Golf Club on our fifth day in Ireland. In 2015, Golf Digest ranked Ballybunion Golf Club's Old Course the 27th greatest golf course in the world. Ballybunion did not disappoint. The course tests all facets of your game in different ways. With difficult bunkers to traverse and angulated greens that proved to be difficult to read, the course is a challenge for any golfer. Once you finish a few holes you are greeted by incredible ocean views. Rocks and cliffs protect the golf course from the ocean. The golf course ends near the clubhouse after a few amazing views of cliffs.

Ballybunion Golf Club is an incredible golf course in Ireland. Tom Watson said, "Ballybunion is the course on which many golf architects should live and play on before they build golf courses." After playing this course, that quote is proven very true because of the course's challenging design.

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