An Australian golfer who won an R&A competition to play a round at the Open venue in Portrush ended up in the rough after appearing in court on a drink-driving charge.
Allan Lodge from Darwin in the Northern Territory pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard.
A prosecutor said he’d failed a breath test in the early hours of the morning four days earlier when a “swerve” on Creamery Road near Coleraine drew police attention.
A defence solicitor told the court the defendant arrived from Darwin the week before having won a competition organised by the R&A.
He was one of a handful of golfers lucky enough to have been granted an opportunity to play at Royal Portrush on the eve of the Open.
The lawyer said he’d met up with fellow competitors the night before his arrest.
He said the 49-year-old had stopped drinking and had “assumed he was okay to drive.”
The lawyer said his client was due to return to Australia the day after his court appearance.
“It’s unfortunate he’s going to remember this week for the wrong reasons,” said Deputy District Judge Brian Archer.
Lodge, who is a joiner by trade, was fined £300 and banned from driving in Northern Ireland for a year.
“It’s disappointing that a man of 49 years and good character has come before the court.
“And its very regrettable you came to this jurisdiction and were found in contravention of its criminal laws,” the judge told Lodge.
Lodge was one of 42 club golfers from Britain, Ireland and Australia competing in the final of the R&A’s Nine Hole Challenge. Tens of thousands had sought that chance.
The tournament was contested over the first two and last seven holes of the famous Dunluce Links before practice began in the Open.
2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke, together with Chris Hilton, Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, presented the prizes to the leading teams.