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Saturday, February 26, 2011

A man's home is his castle...(well in the 14th century, anyway)

(the Bradley family having a ball at Tantallon Castle)

When near North Berwick, Scotland, playing the West Links or Muirfield, be certain to leave a couple of hours to visit Tantallon Castle.  Built around 1350AD, the castle served as the fortress/residence for over 300 years for one of the most powerful families of Scotland:  the Red Douglases.

The castle is well preserved and sits on a lovely oceanfront site.  It has a spectacular view of Bass Rock.

(view of Bass Rock from Tantallon Castle)

The self-tour is well marked with lots of historical and architectural information about the castle.  Your family will have a blast imagining life at Tantallon.

(spectacular cliff-side ruins)

Bradley Golf Travel specializes in getting you to just such places.  Contact us today and start planning your next great vacation!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One Special Day..

Lahinch, Ireland... 2 words that carry so much meaning for me. I spent a lovely day on the western coast of Ireland with my father.  It was here that I played my first great golf course.
pic 1

Opened in 1893, and later changed in 1927 by Alister Mackenzie, the architect of Augusta National, this specatuclar course winds in and out of wind-swept sand dunes. This course has a mystical feeling and the magic of never knowing what lies just around the corner.
The most famous hole at Lahinch is the Dell, par 3 5th. The green is situated in a natural depression in the dunes. My shot ended up long and on the dune, as you can see here.  I did make a specatucalar 3 from this spot.

Neither my dad nor I will forget this afternoon, for Lahinch is truly special.  No golfing life is complete without a visit to Lahinch.  Don't miss it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to Ride an Ostrich

     The first thing to know is that riding an ostrich is nothing like riding a horse.  This is a shame, since I'm quite good at riding horses.  But a quick side-by-side comparison, horse vs. ostrich, will show you why they are different.
     Look into a horse's eyes.  You might see affection, indifference, loathing, fear--whatever it is, you'll see something.  You'll sense that somewhere behind those eyes there's a functioning brain, making decisions that might occasionally be described as rational.
     Look into a ostrich's eyes, and you'll be able to check your hairdo.  That's about it.  Gram for gram I don't think ostriches' brains are that much smaller than horses', but ostriches clearly have a lot less neurons firing.
     Look at the horse's neck.  Nice and sturdy, with all that handy mane to grab. 
     Look at the ostrich's neck.  If you have any doubts about its flimsiness, give it a little push.  The neck will coil away from you like a large and hairy snake.  Nothing to hang onto there.
     Look at the horse's legs.  Four of 'em.  One on each corner.  Kind of comforting, really.
     Ostrich, two legs.  Not as good.
     In fact, riding an ostrich is remarkably like riding a pencil-necked two-hundred-and-fifty pound chicken.
     For all that, I was very keen to give it a go.
     We were in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of South Africa.  Located inland from Mossel Bay near gently rolling mountains, the town was originally settled by--I was surprised at this, too--Latvian Jews.  They all speak Afrikaans now.  (The drugstore in Oudtshoorn, manned entirely by white people, was also the one place in all of South Africa where I absolutely could not make my English-speaking self understood.) Ostriches were farmed here starting in the late 1800s, because of the demand for ostrich feathers to decorate ladies' hats.  Before World War I and the invention of the automobile, prime ostrich feathers were worth their weight in gold.
     Now, however, ostriches are prized for their meat and their skin, which makes a remarkably beautiful (and expensive)leather.  The ostrich farms cater to tourists; at ours we began with a lovely meal of ostrich fillet (tastes like beef, not chicken) and red South African wine.  We moved on to petting ostriches, admiring paddocks of foot-high baby ostriches, and learning about ostrich development in general.  Next our hostess escorted our group to a small paddock, and that's where the real fun began.
     The ostriches aren't trained to be ridden.  There's no saddle, no reins, no attempt at or semblance of control. 
     The farm staff turned a half dozen ostriches loose into the paddock, where they milled about randomly the way ostriches do.  A staff member grabbed one and threw a cloth bag over its head.  Apparently doing that confuses ostriches into temporary docility.  The men pushed the bagged ostrich up against the board fence of the paddock, lifted the ostrich's wings, and told me to climb aboard.
     I won't ride a horse without a helmet, pants, and sturdy leather shoes, but I rode my ostrich in capris and a sun hat.
     The ostrich's body was thinner and smaller than that of my daughter's small pony.  Its feathers were wonderfully soft, and for a moment I worried about crushing them.  (The ones on the body aren't the valuable ones--and anyway, the days of ostrich plumes are long past.)  As instructed, I hooked my legs over the ostrich's knees, which are right up by its body. (Think about the legs on a roast chicken.  No, flip it over, legs pointing down.  See?  I tucked my feet right around the chicken thighs--only on the ostrich, of course.) I grabbed the wing pits.  I leaned back.
     The man yanked the bag off the ostrich's head.  The ostrich exploded.
     With only two legs, ostriches can't buck, which was dead useful.  My ostrich skittered instead, ping-ponging back and forth around the small paddock, scattering the other ostriches into a sort of cascading hysteria.  It took considerable will to maintain my grip on the wingpits and not fasten my hands around its neck instead.  After all, that's where the mane should be.  But I'm pretty sure that strangling the ostrich was not in my best interests just then.
     I figure I managed eight seconds, like a bull rider.  I didn't fall off, but I didn't actually dismount, either.  With a lapful of wings, my only real option was to slide straight backward, into the supporting grasp of two of the staff members, who were laughing themselves silly at the screeching white woman on the bird.
     It's hard to call it riding.  But I sat on the back of a galloping ostrich, and by golly I had fun.

guest blogger:  Kim Bradley
we'd be more than happy to arrange an ostrich ride for you too:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New 36 Hole Development in Central FL

Check out this preview photo posted by Tom Doak on of a par three at his new course currently under construction at the Streamsong Resort in Central Florida:

The resort will feature 36 holes, with one course designed by Doak and the other by the firm of Coore and Crenshaw.  Fans of these architects' work, including us at Bradley Golf Travel, eagerly anticipate the opening of the resort in 2012.   We will keep you updated on this project.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My First Eagle...

It was a gorgeous Scottish afternoon with my dad at North Berwick West Links. Here is where I had my first ever eagle, by knocking it in the hole at the 1st from about 165 out. That afternoon was a fantastic time, and North Berwick is a cool, quirky course where you actually play over a 400 year old stone wall!
The original redan is also here at North Berwick and some of the most famous holes in all of golf try to copy the stategies found here.
My day at North Berwick is truly something that I will never forget and to have shared that afternoon with my dad is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. You should want to give your son a day to remember like this so contact Bradley Golf Travel at to get your trip planned today.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cashel House Hotel: Our Favorite Country House

   (Cashel House Hotel 2009)

  On our last family trip to Ireland, I did not initially plan for us to stay at Cashel House, but the family protested en masse.  How could we go to Ireland and not go to Cashel? It was, the children protested, their favorite hotel in the world.  I had to admit that I agreed with them--back to Cashel we went.
     Cashel House is a mid-19th century manor home on the edge of Cashel bay, surrounded by some of the prettiest gardens anywhere, with a famed Connemara pony stud out back.  It opened as a hotel in 1968.  The Connemara region of Ireland is wild and glorious, underpopulated, and unspoiled.  Cashel sits like a small gem in the middle of very little else; a trip to Clifden, Connemara's main town, takes an hour along winding roads where every turn brings fantastic scenery and a good chance you might run over a sheep.
     Our family time slows down in Connemara.  We start our days with the best Irish breakfast ever, served not a moment before eight (if you wake earlier and would like some coffee, too bad--you're on holiday, learn to sleep in).  You'll hear the morning staff murmuring in Gaelic before they open the dining room doors--this is one of the last parts of Ireland where Gaelic is commonly spoken.  Anyway, breakfast includes the usual fruit, cereal, yogurt, toast, eggs, sausage, tomato--but Cashel branches out to Irish cheeses and the option of fresh local trout.  The dining room itself is stunning--full of antiques as is the rest of Cashel house, but, like the rest of Cashel, homey, comfortable, and bright. 
(Cashel House Dining Room)
     Well-fortified, we are off for a day of adventure--perhaps a round of golf for the boys at Connemara Golf Club, while the girls take a two-hour ride on the beach.  Or we might hike in Connemara National Park, getting an occaisonal glimpse of wild Connemara ponies.  We love to explore the galleries and pubs of Clifden.  Whatever we do, we try to leave a bit of afternoon time to spend back at Cashel House.  We'll explore the garden paths, pet the horses in Cashel's stable or walk down to the beach (visitors are welcome to swim, but you'd have to be Irish--and used to frigid water--to try it).  Then we repair for a drink in the first-floor bar-cum-tea room before heading upstairs to shower and dress for dinner.

(Hiking in Connemara)

(Connemara Golf Club - an unusual mix of links and exposed rock that is typical of the Connemara countryside)

(Elevated 14th tee with the ocean waves in the backdrop)
     Dinner at Cashel is a two-hour affair.  The Contintental-style menu changes daily, highlighting whatever is fresh and in-season. There isn't a set children's menu--no nuggets here--but the staff offers smaller, simpler versions of most items.  While the grownups enjoy a starter of melon wrapped with proscuitto, four-year-old Katie ate a plate of melon; seven-year-old Matthew's small pork loin came with no sauce at all.  The service is impeccable, unhurried but never too slow. Owner Kay McEvily might stop by to ask how our day went, and offer suggestions for the morrow.  After dessert, we're invited to take coffee in the adjoining parlor, but we're more likely to head past the peat fires back to our rooms, to sleep hard and wake ready for more adventures.

Guest blogger:  Kim Bradley
For more info and photos about Connemara Golf Club check out this thread on,41093.msg869381.html#msg869381

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Seeing the world and playing golf with family and friends.....

(Here we are at Cashel House, 2009)

The Bradley family loves to travel. We love to see new places, try new things, be together and have fun. Through this blog we'll share some of our adventures with you. If they inspire you to travel and make your own fabulous family memories, that's great. If they just give you a glimpse into the amazingly diverse world, that's great, too.

As you will see, vacations are a big part of our family life. Matthew and I are passionate golfers and golf architecture junkies; Kim and Katie, well, not so much--they love to ride horses, visit museums, and explore quirky marketplaces and interesting towns. Through care and planning, our trips, while they include playing some of the great golf courses of the world, are great fun for the whole family. That's what we specialize in at Bradley Golf Travel: custom designed vacations that will be exciting for golfers and non-golfers alike. So if we can help you plan your next great family getaway, please contact us at or check out