Portlaoise

2004 saw the Sandpipers ranks swell yet again, though some founder members were, sadly, unable to make the trip this year. Nevertheless, the addition of Four Faults, IDS, Thrush and Judge Dread enabled us to maintain the quality of both the golf and the company.

Birr, Carlow, Tullamore and The Heath all provided excellent courses and convivial 19th holes. The Judge was so taken by The Heath's wandering hazards (sheep) that he's vowed to take his "wellies"  if we ever return there.

The Heritage Hotel was a superb base and our transport was just a little cut above last year's!

Bunter, once again, needed the Samaritans. Get a Wok, Bunter! Consign your three iron to history - not just to a litter bin at Carlow.

Our first day's golf, at Birr, was played in monsoon conditions. In spite of this, Four Faults posted an excellent score to take this year's singles crown. It was noted by The Judge, however, that some players, clearly Old Etonians, had stopped for "Tiffin", ignoring the continuous play rule.

The second day, at Carlow, saw the sun shining on the Sandpipers, once again. This was a super course, with some very slick greens. Probably not the Judge's favourite course, as he lost 6 euros.

For the second year running, Tullamore was the venue for a team event. This is a course which everyone seems to enjoy. Notable for Bunter hitting the straightest tee shot ever seen and for the generosity of the bar staff when pouring the Jamesons.

The final day, at The Heath, was not only memorable for the two eagles at the first hole but also for the sheep - they don't have to face this hazard on the PGA Tour! Overheard at the 16th: Traveller kid: Have yer any golf balls mister?

IDS: No, I keep losing mine.

TK: Why d'yer do that mister?

Stunned silence from a quiet man!

Thanks, as usual, must go to Clint for organising the trip and to Lawrence, this year's captain, for his work in organising the various competitions. One plea to Filofax - have the team comps on the first two days. It'll give we pensioners the chance to nobble the young shavers by letting them treat us to ultra late night drinking sessions.