Father-son’s golf trip to Ireland with Trinity Golf makes for the perfect outing
For many years, golf has been a common bond for the father-son combination of Tom and Korey Leslie.
However, for one week in May, that special connection went even further, thanks to the help of a friend, as well as a few hundred people neither man had ever met before.
It was during a golf trip to Ireland, taken along with John O’Connell of Trinity Golf, that the 60-year-old dentist and 38-year-old attorney, experienced things they will never forget.
“Korey and I started playing golf together when he was 3-years-old,” says Tom. “Probably the best times he and I have had in our lives together were spent on the golf course.”
Korey echoed his father’s sentiments.
“My childhood memories that really stick out are on the golf course,” he says. “He’s always been my No. 1 guy to play golf with. To get the opportunity to experience the courses in Ireland that Trinity Golf had set up for us — with my dad — was awesome.”
A different way to keep score
Tom says the two would play together four or five times a week when Korey still lived at the family home in Berkley Springs, West Virginia. Now that Korey lives in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, they are only able to play together six to eight times per year.
While he admitted that his son has “been beating him since he was 12,” it didn’t take away from the experience they shared at places neither have been to before. This was especially true at Dooks Golf Club in Co. Kerry, Ireland, when the group arrived late and played without a caddy.
“It took me back 35 years, walking with my son and playing golf by the seat of our pants,” Tom says. “It’s not like things are tremendously well-marked. But the afternoon at Dooks was super.”
Korey says the difference in their games matters none anytime they are together.
“He and I used to be very competitive when I got through high school and college,” he says. “Now when we play, our scores aren’t important, it’s just what we write down to prove we played. We don’t get to do it that often. We probably should make more time to do that.”
Experiencing Ireland as a local
An added bonus was that they didn’t have any obstacles in Ireland, Korey says. The two got to relax and enjoy the time and the company, not worrying about work or other responsibilities.
Both men had been to Ireland previously; Tom and his wife were there about 10 years ago, and Korey visited last year with his wife. While both loved their previous trips, neither expected what they would experience this time around.
“One of the things I knew would be different from the way my dad went before was this was coordinated by Trinity Golf and the personal connections John has there — which I know will be great whether he’s taking us to a golf course or an off-the-path restaurant,” says Korey. “You are not seeing it through the eyes of an American, but as someone who truly knows and loves Ireland.”
And it didn’t take long for those experiences to happen. Trinity Golf took the group on an overnight flight, arriving at the Shannon Airport the morning of Sunday, May 8. Shortly after going through customs, Tom realized it wasn’t going to be a normal trip. Trinity Golf had a helicopter waiting to take them to their first destination, the Old Head Golf Links.
“When you are flying in a helicopter over the top of (Ireland) you truly see the 500 shades of green they talk about,” Tom says. “At 8:30 Sunday morning, we are sitting in the pub at Old Head getting ready to start our great adventure.”
“I knew when I was there last year that Old Head was a place I would want to see my dad’s reaction to,” added Korey. “Old Head is one of the most spectacular, scenic places in the world.
“The whole place was just magical. Getting to watch my father experience that and play that course together was everything I hoped it would be for he and I. That made the trip for me, and the rest of the week, the golf courses, the food, everything was just incredible.”
A lasting impression
They played golf, but the evening excursions were really what made things special. Both father and son raved about the Irish people and particularly enjoyed being a part of a 91st birthday celebration of one of Kinsale’s favorite sons that turned into a huge sing-a-long, for everyone.
“The golf courses were phenomenal,” says Tom. “The relationship Trinity Golf’s John O’Connell has with the people of Ireland is what made the most lasting impression with me. When he walked in the clubhouse everybody came out and hugged him like he was a long lost cousin. It was really remarkable.
“It was a bit of Irish family I would have never gotten to see. They are telling jokes, singing songs in Gaelic, I have no idea what they were singing. I read about this stuff but never witnessed it. Then they said, ‘Ok guys, it’s your turn to sing.’ And we did for the next two hours.”
In the end, it was the perfect father-son outing.
“It is a golf trip, but the highlights are everything that occurs away from the golf course,” says Korey. “Even a long walk on the golf course, not playing your best, isn’t so bad. This time, we played golf every day and got to play some world renown courses.”
Now that Korey is grown with a family of his own, Tom says, it’s wonderful to be able to get out and share that time on the golf course.
“I am not nearly as competitive in the game as I used to be,” he says. “But to be able to spend the time and enjoy the scenery with him was wonderful. We have always had a special relationship.”