The Irish Open Pro Am – Part 3
I woke up the other morning just before five a.m to use the little boys room, when returning to bed I had a peak out the window to see what the day was going to bring. When I pulled the curtains I noticed someone heading off to work, later that day I was relaying the story to my mum and she replied with:
“Sure you use to get up at that time to play Golf!”
And she was right. Back in 1993 when I got bitten by the golf bug, it wasn’t as easy as it is now to play so I used to get up before the sun so I could sneak out and play nine holes around Greystones Golf Club before the green keepers arrived.
From there my love of the game grew and when in school I would day dream about winning big tournaments, travelling the world playing golf and all the luxuries that came with being a Professional Golfer. I even practiced my autograph, just in case.
Fast forward twenty odd years and while walking from the driving range all that practice started to pay off. At first I was like, “no no I’m not a pro” but towards the end of it I was just walking around with a sharpie signing anything that got in my way. Sure when will I get the chance again I suppose. I didn’t care the only reason the kids were asking me was because BMW were making an outrageous fuss out of me and I was being followed by my own actual entourage. So I lapped it up.
This happened to be the exact time my Mom, Sister, Niece and better half arrived on site. I can only imagine their reactions when they seen me surrounded by camera’s, signing autographs.
Not long until we got to meet our Pro, Michael Hoey. Standing on the famous 1st tee where Darren Clarke got that incredible welcome during the Ryder Cup in 2006 surrounded by grandstands that butterfly in my stomach started to flutter again. The fairway getting smaller and smaller
Then our Professional started walking towards us.
Straight away you could tell he was a nice bloke, strong handshake, eye contact and a genuine warmth. The butterfly started to relax.
We got the small talk out of the way and stood aside to watch Michael rip one down the left side of the fairway. Couldn’t have placed it in a better position. I had tried to use the new Facebook Live function to show mine and Michael’s tee shots but as you’ll see the butterfly obviously wasn’t that relaxed with all the shaking that went on ( Michael’s Opening Shot )
Now my turn…. Kenny handed me my three wood ” Keep it on your left side Rob”
As I reached for a tee out of my pocket the butterfly in my stomach suddenly invited all his friends over. I was rattling, I could barely get the tee into the ground.
And its funny, but just as I got the ball onto the tee, a thought came over me how wouldn’t my Dad have loved to have seen me hit this shot. I really had to compose myself. My eyes welled up, but a couple of deep breaths later I kept it on my left side and piped one down the middle.
Job done, and I reckon Dad was watching anyway.
I think I actually fist pumped with Kenny, definitely a first time doing that for a tee shot. Walking off the tee, the weight lifted off my shoulders and a smile appeared on my face. I honestly don’t think it left until I fell asleep that night.
Strolling side by side with Michael the thirteen year old inside me whispered “enjoy this, its not exactly what we dreamed of but its a very close second”
Hearing Michael say “Nice swing there Rob” made the walk to my ball all that bit nicer too. I swiftly picked my ball up and put it in my pocket.
Why, you ask, Well it was a strange format we were playing that day, a Tour Scramble.
- All four players drove
- The pro selected the best drive ( he played his own ball )
- Myself, Fiachra and Fergal would play out the hole individually from the ball he selected
- And the worst score we could have on the hole was a par.
I think its a format designed to help high handicap players and speed up play (even though it took us just shy of six hours)
Michael’s ball was best placed out of the four of us so we marked and got ready to hit after him.
Fergal and Fiachra, my playing partners, were both handy golfers, each off six handicap. So when Michael turned to us and said “Guys, this is probably the lowest handicap group I’ve played with in a Pro-Am” I thought we would 100% be making speeches at the presentation, but before I could get carried away he also said
“Just so you know you haven’t a hope of winning this” with a cheeky grin.
The format totally suited the high handicap, we would go on to make a lot of birdies, Michael even had an eagle but because your score couldn’t go backwards we were always chasing our tails.
After Michael hit, the lads said “Fire away Rob” . So I placed the ball, went through my routine and was just about to pull the trigger when Kenny said ” Keep it on your left side Rob”, as he would do for nearly every shot for the rest of the day. I think I was lob sided going home.
But thankfully he did, I hit a career best iron shot to about five feet, Which drew a big cheer from the gallery. The gallery made up as mentioned of family, but also a good contingent of Glen of the Downs members.
I can’t even remember where the lads hit there shots too as I floated up the fairway. Marked my ball, threw it to Kenny, cause that’s what the Pros’s do. It wasn’t even dirty.
Funny this, but I replaced the ball, took some practice strokes and yes you guessed it, missed it on the left side.