My buddy Larry and I walk into a golf shop to check in for our tee time and when we announce that Larry and Moe are here for the 10:05 the response is often the standard…”So where is Curly?”. When we walked into the shop at Pat Ruddy’s European Club in Brittas Bay, south of Dublin, on a day in late June 2001 we got the same refrain.
Imagine our surprise when returned after the round for a cold Guinness and some Paddys and Pat’s son at the counter says Curly will be out in a second. Next thing we know a gregarious man with a mop on his head burst out of the kitchen with his arms spread and says ”Larry……Moe?”
What ensued was an hour and a half of some of the most entertaining golf talk I have ever experienced. Ruddy once said in an interview for Golf Ireland, “When a person comes to Ireland, they become a member of the family. Friendships are formed that last for decades. We notice a visitor and we embrace them. They are not just fodder to a business, they are very welcome,”
Pat shows off his library of 6500+ golf books upstairs at the European ClubEmbed from Getty Images
He was true to his word with us….Ruddy treated us like long lost friends as we talked links courses, bad design, good rounds, tricky winds, knee-deep stuff on 13, and everything in between.
Some sample Ruddyisms:
We were discussing the severity of bunkers on links courses that often force you to consider the option of playing away from the hole. Pat, the king of the big fish story, related how he was playing an alternate shot event one day partnered with one of the local parish clergy. When Pat pinned him up against the face of a green side bunker with his approach he said, “Father you might consider hitting this one backward to give me a playable shot”. At which point his partner dutifully pulled a six iron from the bag and hit it 150 yards back down the fairway. The man knew how to follow instructions.
In response to my suggestion that he consider adding a chicken sandwich to the robust menu in the cafe at the European Club he said, “Chicken…a great idea…I’ve been in touch with a Chinese chap who is faced with a crisis concerning 60,000,000 birds with throaty coughs. Maybe we can bring those sandwiches in really cheap…. if we can solve the transportation problem….leave it to me.”
In discussing the construction of the two signature par threes that play off the tallest dune on the Ballyliffen Glashedy Links, he said the locals, dead set against him disturbing this iconic dune, failed to understand that it was already blowing away and covering the fairways of the new holes behind it with sand. “So one February night at 11 p.m. I organized two dozer men, two excavator men, and a truck man and worked through the night in snow and sleet having them 95% built by dawn. No one came out to protest so they were too lazy or maybe they knew how determined I was.” These holes are two truly delectable links experiences or as Ruddy says, “I was giving them two helpings of that dessert”.
Quite the backdrop…the 8th green and beyond at his European Club
Embed from Getty Images
As I found out from our first conversations and a number of correspondences between us over the next few years this is a funny, charming, opinionated, and charismatic guy that the golf world needs to know better.
That is dutifully served by Roland Merullo’s Golf World piece on Pat Ruddy that relates in personal detail the breadth of his influence and contributions to Irish links golf. His resume speaks for itself, original designs at Druid’s Glen, Ballyliffen Glashedy, Portsalon Golf Club, Rosapenna Golf Links, and, his personal jewel, The European Club, as well as renovations at a number of Ireland’s most famous links.
Enjoy this article as well as a couple of moegolf course reviews of The European Club and Ballyliffen Glashedy Links. Most important, make it a point to visit The European Club next time your soft spikes make land in Ireland. It is a unique links experience not to be missed and, maybe if you are lucky, a diametrically challenged man will appear from the kitchen and regale you with a bit of Irish hospitality that you will never forget.