LAHINCH, IRELAND. MARCH 22, 2018; Views of the 4th hole at Lahinch golf course, on March 22nd, 2017 in Lahinch, Ireland. Photo by Tom Shaw

The Bartender’s Son

Seeing is believing

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Rick Reilly’s new book, So Help Me Golf: Why We Love the Game. For our full podcast interview covering the book, his career, and his lifelong golf obsession, listen to TGJ Podcast 120 here.

Once, in a single afternoon at the Irish seaside course Lahinch, four people made holes in one on the blind par 3 155-yard fifth, a practical mathematical impossibility.

Yes, a blind par 3. You aim at a white rock that is in line with the pin, which you can’t see. Forget that. You can’t even see the green. If that sounds crazy and antiquated and wonderful, well, get your arse to Lahinch.

And so it was on the famous Day of the Four Aces that the Lahinch bar had become VE Day in Times Square. They say you could barely get your last free Jameson drank before somebody was offering you another. Word was out around town and the joint was ribs-to-elbow packed with locals, too. An accordion, fiddle and banjo were slapping out Irish drinking tunes, and the rosy-cheeked waitresses were getting their rents paid in a single night.

Left: Photo by Christian Hafer. Right: Photo by Tom Shaw

But then, through the front door, came the bartender’s wife, holding the ear of her freckled, red-headed 7-year-old son. She marched him up to the bartender and yelled the following into his ear: “Have you any idea what your rascal son did today?”

The big bartender was trying to fill 100 drink orders at once, so he said without looking, “What’d ya do, boyo?”

The boy looked at his mother, who nodded. Then he said to his dad, “I was puttin’ golf balls inta the hole.”

The bartender pulled his head back, stared at the sheepish boy, then again at his angry wife, all the while starting a Guinness with one hand and making change with the other.

“Well,” she yelled, still holding the imp’s ear. “Are ya not gonna do sum’tin about it?” 

“Yes,” the bartender said. Then he swept the kid up in his arms, kissed him on the forehead, and yelled, “Good lad!”