News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, April 8, 2011
AUGUSTA---Denis Kirwan remembers something a friend once told him.
"As soon as you approach Augusta National for the first time, you get goosebumps the size of Titlists, and that basically is exactly how I felt," Kirwan said.
This week was Kirwan's second time, but he still got the goosebumps.
"The place is just fantastic. I mean, to be honest I think I've died and gone to heaven," he told News 12.
To get to this "heaven" he had to cross the Atlantic.
"I've come from Dublin in Ireland," he said.
He's just one of the many people from Ireland and the UK who have come over for the Masters. Last night, members of the media from the UK and Ireland gathered in a house on Walton Way for food, drinks, and a bit of conversation.
Alison Metcalfe works for Tourism Ireland and helped set up the event. She says golf has created a strong bond between Ireland, the UK, and the US.
"More than 40 million Americans would claim Irish ancestry, so there's a huge depth of goodwill and interest in Ireland," Metcalfe said.
She says that strong relationship between Ireland and the US has caused tourists from Ireland to flock to Augusta for the Masters, but many Americans are returning the favor, experiencing golf on the Emerald Isle.
"Every hole has the most tremendous and spectacular view. Whether it's the coastline, it's an ancient ruin. So much history has gone before you in terms of playing those courses," said Metcalfe.
Not only do Americans experience great golf, but she says that many also get in touch with their heritage. Kirwan agrees and highlights Ireland's greatest asset.
"The 19th hole is where Ireland has its main charm. The craic is always good after the golf. You can have a good time--enjoy yourself, and there's always a great welcome," he said.