I feel like I finally have the proof to win the debate that yes, umbrellas must be packed on golf trips to Ireland and Scotland.
The unfortunate side effect was I had to suffer through several ferocious storms last week along the northern coast of Ireland to claim victory over my esteemed golf-writing friends.
It all started after a blog I wrote last year about packing for Ireland (you can read it here) where I wrote that umbrellas were a must. Several colleagues and even a few Irish hosts who I met on that trip read the piece and ridiculed my logic. See Brandon Tucker's story at http://www.travelgolf.com/articles/ireland-golf-vacation-planning-tips-11472.htm.
I fully understand their dismissals. Umbrellas can be virtually useless at times over the pond. Just last week, I played in 45-mile-per-hour winds at Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort's fabulous Sandy Hills course that would have shredded even the best gustbuster umbrella. Visit this page to witness the mayhem.
Two rounds later my umbrella did turn inside out during a round on Ballyliffin's Glashedy Links, but I was able to salvage it. Finally, my foursome marveled at the virtual graveyard of umbrella skeletons littered in the trash cans throughout the spectacularly scenic Ardglass Golf Club a day later.
But it was the wild round at Portsalon that my umbrella essentially saved a potentially miserable round.
Walking to the fifth tee, I carelessly let the umbrella slip out of my hands. It took off like a rocket over a dune toward the ocean. I was sure it was floating out to sea as I crested the dune to find it hung up on a barbed-wire fence. Lucky, for sure.
Not five minutes later, chaos struck. An Irish squall came in so fast and hard that a buddy and I only had enough time to dive under that same umbrella. Wind, rain and hail pelted us for what seemed like a half hour but was probably more like three minutes. The umbrella saved a total soaking.
"That was the most intense storm I've seen in a long time," former club captain Andy Boland would say later.
This would become a pattern throughout the day ... periods of sun followed by Mother Nature's wrath. On the back nine, the three of us hid in a dune under my umbrella. I shot a video that captured the lunacy of it all. I took the picture below just seconds after the rain quit.
I hate to think what life would have been like without that umbrella. In the clubhouse after a round, we found another group that had five people - four players and a caddie - squeeze under one umbrella.
Maybe after reading this cautionary tale more folks will bring umbrellas to the British Isles. Maybe next time I won't share mine, just to teach all those doubters a lesson.