Saturday, July 23, 2022

Golf in Ireland: The Benefits of Blue Space--yes, Blue

"Finding Forrester" is the story of a reclusive author, William Forrester, who lives a lonely life until he begins to mentor an unlikely suspect. Forrester, played by the late Sir Sean Connery,  advises the budding novelist, “No thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is... to write, not to think!”

Those words have stayed with me since I saw the film. I had no idea they would come in handy the way that they have. Over the years, I have reminded myself of the "first key to writing." I have passed that advice on to countless students, especially those who admit their paper is late because writing is hard. It is! However, his sage wisdom gives a person a place to start. And truth be told, I need that, too. 

I haven't blogged in nearly a month. I have contributed to this blog regularly since December 2009; thus, this pause is troubling. So like any habit that needs reset, let's ease back into it. Here's what I would like to share!

Known as a the Emerald Isle, Ireland boldly claims to host 40 shades of green. In my week here, I have seen the variants on the country's hillsides, fairways and even bogs. At times the green is piercing!  It's brilliant. It's good for you too. No doubt green is a golfer's friend, but one of the best golf experiences of my life didn't reinforce the value of it. No, golf at Old Head Golf Links revealed the grace of blue space.

Gretchen Rubin writes “Basically the cooler cousin of green space. Aka, bodies of water (think: rivers, lakes, or oceans) that are typically accessible to everyone. Studies show that those who visit or live near blue spaces tend to be happier and more relaxed. And staring at the ocean — or even smelling the sea breeze — can actually put your brain into a meditative state. Om-mazing.”

The blue space I encountered beside, below, around and next to me at Old Head Golf Links was down right mystical. During several moments of the 4 hour and 30 minute round all I could see what blue. What a gift to behold such beauty. 

Old Head offers much more than "savage views" (direct quote from my caddy, Aodhán). As written on their website

Occupying a stunning and unique headland reaching out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Old Head of Kinsale is home to the most spectacular world-class golf courses in the world. Located in County Cork on the South West Coast of Ireland, as the incredible brainchild of the late John O'Connor together with his brother Patrick, the Club has developed into one of the most recognised and sought after golf experiences anywhere on earth.

Its fourth hole is ranked by Golf Digest as number three on "the 18 undisputed, unchallenged, scientifically factual best golf holes in the world." Perhaps "proximity to blue space" ought to be considered in their criteria.

I have long taught about the value of green space. As written on Why More Green Space Is Essential for Cities

Green space is associated with a large number of health benefits, including lower premature mortality, longer life expectancy, fewer mental health problems, less cardiovascular disease, better cognitive functioning in children and the elderly, and healthier babies. It also helps to mitigate air pollution, heat and noise levels, and provides opportunities for physical exercise and social interaction.

My only qualifier is that you don't have the color green without blue. I live in a city surrounded by blue and make an effort to take it in. Thank you, Ireland for offering both--in abundance. 

And yes, I plan on rewatching "Finding Forrester" on the plane trip home. 

Photo Credits

Old Head

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