A Trip to Ireland Grows PGA Coach Heidi Richardson's Love for the Game
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Welcome to the first in a series of four golf travel stories. We’ve spoken with several PGA Professionals about the lengths to which they’ve literally gone to play, Coach and promote the great game of golf. Whether hitting the road for business or for pleasure, these industry leaders understand the benefits, and the impact, of golf travel on one’s personal spirit, as well as on their relationships with others. So, pack your bags and enjoy this account of an inspirational excursion to Europe recently experienced by Heidi Richardson, PGA a multi-time Award winner in the Southern California PGA Section, and PGA Teaching Professional at Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.
“Throughout my 30 years as a PGA Professional, I have studied the Rules of Golf, as well as the game’s history, traditions and foundations,” Richardson says. “My vision of the original golf game, those first players, competitions and mystical links-style golf courses that have made the Scottish and Irish landscape so glorious has always intrigued me. Sharing the meaning of this history with my clients has always been one of the cores of my golf academy.”
Richardson grew up the daughter of golf-loving parents in sunny Southern California. Golf, she says, shaped the core of her personal character, led her to the career she has enjoyed for three decades and helped foster some of the most impactful relationships of her life.
“Though it’s hard to summarize the experiences I’ve had on my trips to Ireland, visiting the homeland of golf only made me appreciate the game more!” she explains. “Traveling to Ireland several years ago, my husband Dave and I played Portmarnock Golf Club, established in 1894; Lahinch Golf Club, established in 1892; and Waterville Golf Links, with golf dating back to 1889!”
Richardson says when it was time for their second trip to Ireland, they wanted to expand the breadth of their experience by traveling to Northern Ireland, as well. The courses they decided upon were Royal Portrush Golf Club (1888), Royal County Down Golf Club (1889) and Old Head Golf Links, built in 1997 on land that was settled more than six millennia ago.
“Just stepping out of our car, into the golf shop, then onto the first tee gave me the chills! I brought a thank you note and gift to the wonderful PGA Directors who welcomed me from the other side of the world. Of course, I then had to purchase a logo ball, hat and jacket from each course!” Richardson highlighted. “Although I always have high expectations to score well, the emotions that overwhelmed me during each round were that of awe, wonder and a sincere appreciation for the opportunity to walk those historic fairways. I found myself with a great smile on my face the entire time! Even after a drive into the rough, a fairway shot into the deepest bunker I’ve ever seen or a three-putt from 10 feet, I was just giggling and shaking my head and looking for the next tee with utter excitement!”
Richardson says her passion for golf is deep, and her goal in traveling to Ireland was to experience the game in its purest form. “We had lovely weather most of the trip, until our last round of golf, as we watched the dark foreboding clouds come from over the ocean and onto the golf course,” she detailed. “It was during my first swing on the first tee that the rain started! And as I got soaking wet and cold, carded my bogeys and three-putted some greens, I did so with that same smile on my face.”
Heidi says it was magical as she and Dave walked the fairways with the wind and rain striking them, and the angry waves pounding on the shore along the fairways. “I felt as if we had stepped back in time to the origins of golf.” And then the rain stopped, and a double rainbow bore witness to her final putt of the day.
“As I flew home, I was excited to share my even greater love and appreciation for the game of golf,” she concluded. A few words she said she would use include Awe, Wonder, Thrill, Pleasure and Privilege! Richardson looks forward to going back, and says her future travel goals include St. Andrews and beyond!