Since the Irish Open at The K Club it has been non-stop for Peter Lawrie – who headed off to Walton Heath for the US Open qualifier – and at Carr Golf Centre in Spawell it was business as usual for his former caddy. A week was full of lessons which were of a more productive kind than those Peter got served, as a tough 36 holes made him unable to repeat our feat of 2012 when he earned a place at the Olympic Club for the US Open that year in San Francisco. Instead it was the Nordea Masters last week in Sweden followed by the Lyoness powered by Sporthilfe Cashback Card at the Diamond Country Club in Austria this week. Last Sunday he ended the 72 holes with a 45th place finish – just behind Michael Hoey – with Paul Dunne failing to make the cut at Bro Hof Slot in Stockholm. A good result following a run of misses. However this week it was a miss in Austria after posting rounds of 75 & 76
At this level golf is all about the company you keep and making the weekend is where professionals always want to be – and need to be – to ensure some income. No different with teaching and the company we have been keeping in recent weeks includes KPMG, who arranged a series of sessions for their company golf society. This has become increasingly popular at corporate level and before Christmas it was a similar group from The Law Society of Ireland that koine me. With more companies offering incentives to employees for sports or other activities, I have been fortunate to develop a number of links with some bigger companies.
It offers a great opportunity to teach people from many parts of the world all now living in Dublin. The skill levels range from the novices to some lower handicaps and all are divided into a series of groups. The KPMG programme lasted four weeks, took some time to put together, but proved fruitful for all involved. At this level the challenges are no different to corporate life and so the discipline to attend the sessions is often half the battle.
With the Curtis Cup in this week I am reminded of my sister, Ellen Rose McDaid, and her role in Chattanooga in 1994 when the trophy was retained on US soil and so I wish GB&I the very best this week in Dun Laoghaire. The Irish players involved are Olivia Mehaffey, Maria Dunne and Leona Maguire. All three talented golfers who will be tested by a strong US team but favoured with the advantage of home soil in the shadow of the Wicklow foothills. It should prove an exciting few days and hopefully add to the achievements of our up-and-coming youngsters to match those on the men’s side from the last winning Walker Cup team; Gavin Moynihan, Paul Dunne, Cormac Sharvin; Gary Hurley and Jack Hume who starred in the equivalent event, The Walker Cup.
Clearly the strength of the amateur game in Ireland has never been so good. Yet the step always remains to ensure a steady flow of players make it to the professional grade and survive to earn a living there. Some who passed my way reflect those mixed fortunes that the sport throws up – with Lawrie now the one battling for his card – having enjoyed over ten years trouble free. Another was Michael Mc Geady who has battled tour school on numerous occasions and never made the cut to the main Tour. However, he calmly won the Irish PGA Championship in 2013 at a time when he probably least expected. Gary Murphy enjoyed a number of good years on Tour and is now an able commentator on golf on Setanta Sports and RTE. Also Colm Moriarty who is back in search of success on the Challenge Tour once again and his decade long quest for the Tour.
On the Ladies side there was Karen Delaney 2007 Irish ladies champion and Kate Gallagher the Irish Girls Champion 2007. So I have fair idea what lies ahead for all the Curtis Cup team once their week is done and dusted. Finishing in Dun Laoghaire Golf club as winners would be a nice turning point for some of those considering playing professionally. In the meantime, to ensure the production line continues the teaching of the game still remains a most important starting point. Getting boys and girls to at least try the game at a young age so as to have a flavour of it when their minds are still open. Too often it’s a sport that comes later in life and then all of a sudden the five-hour time of a round competes unfavourably with 90 minutes of soccer, 80 minutes of rugby or 70 minutes of hurling and football.
Ten years ago in the USA, when the golf course was a playground for the professional set and a young Tiger Woods was the world’s best player, golf looked like an unassailable national undertaking, and corporate players were champing at the bit to get involved. But in 2016 TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, the world’s biggest maker of golf clubs and clothes, saw product sales nosedive by 28 percent indicating an underlying decline in the game.
“A decline in the number of active players … caused immense problems in the entire industry, and as a market leader, this hit us particularly hard,” Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer said at the time of the results were released.
On this side of the Atlantic the R&A announced in April the introduction of a nine-hole championship which will be played at Royal Troon, the weekend before the 145th Open. The inaugural nine-hole championship, open to men, women and juniors, will feature 30 players with a series of qualifiers being held at 13 R&A affiliated venues in the UK and Ireland. An initiative that has the backing of Padraig Harrington, an R&A working for golf ambassador:
“People who want to play golf are increasingly struggling to find the time to play and so positioning nine-hole golf as a legitimate alternative makes a lot of sense. I’m really pleased to see The R&A taking the lead in this area.
“For regular amateur golfers to be able to play the Open venue in championship condition immediately before the best players in the world is a fantastic initiative and I’m sure this new competitive format will encourage more people to get out on the golf course and play nine-hole golf.”
In every company time is a constraint and people are busy. That’s the nature of life these days. As our programmes are tailored for such needs and we believe it’s about the company you keep and our work with KPMG proved it can be done.
“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.”