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GUI Juniors: Golf has given me everything

​​​​“There were only two juniors in Connemara Golf Club when I started playing – Derek McNamara and myself."

  • 25 July 2017

Kenny Fahey is the Head Professional at the GUI National Golf Academy, Maynooth in Co. Kildare. This is his story about the experience he had as a junior at a rural club in Connacht.
  
“There were only two juniors in Connemara Golf Club when I started playing – Derek McNamara and myself. And we ended up playing number one for Ireland in foursomes at the Boys’ Home Internationals.

Initially I hated golf. My dad used to bring me out. I’d play five or six holes but I found it boring and I’d get tired and go sit in the car. Plus, I wasn’t very good at it.

When I was 12, I started caddying in the golf club and through caddying I nearly immediately started playing so it was caddying that really got me into it. Derek would have started playing before me and he was very, very good so there was natural competition between us.

Hughie O’Neill was the head pro and he took us under his wing. He was a brilliant coach. He was the head greenkeeper as well so he was always there. He’d give you that three-minute lesson when he was passing by, which was just huge.

Hughie truly is a legend, whose son Luke is now playing for Ireland also.

Derek was a rising star and we were very competitive against each other. We were best friends, we spent every day together. If he had 40 points and I had 25, I wouldn’t sleep for three nights practicing. We were lucky to have each other.

The competiveness got me hooked because if I was left on my own, more than likely I would have given up. Derek was so good, that quitting simply wasn’t an option.

My parents were also going through a divorce at the time so golf was a perfect focal point for me to get away from that – as it was at that awkward age. With my mind focused on golf, I hardly noticed this change at home. I was busy.

I remember the first event we played was an open boys’ competition in Ballinrobe. It was very strange playing another course in a competition.

Myself and Derek used to get the bus into Galway and we’d go to Don Wallace’s shop in Galway golf club and spend the day looking at clubs, buying little bits and pieces. We’d get off at Oughterard Golf Club as well and do the same there. My first ‘proper’ driver was a great Big Bertha 6.5 degree because that’s what Monty had. And he was God at the time.

At 15, we were getting buses to tournaments and staying in B&Bs. My first championship event was the Munster Boys in Monkstown. My mother and I got a six-hour bus down there. I’ll never forget that journey. It was four and a half hours to Cork from Galway.

I played Boys’ Home Internationals twice, in 2000 at Portmarnock and 2001 at Moortown, Myself and Derek McNamara led Ireland out in the first match at Portmarnock.

That was pretty cool for the two of us from the club to do that and the Captain of Portmarnock at the time was also a Connemara member, Joe King. He was as excited as we were. I played at the European Boys in 2000 – we were beaten in extra holes for the gold medal against Scotland. My match cost us gold, hard to forget that one.

After finishing school, I was offered a scholarship to Rhode Island. I arrived there seven days before 9/11. I studied psychology and finished in 2005. I went on to do my PGA training under Neil Manchip, the GUI National Coach, at the GUI National Golf Academy and I have been head professional at the Academy since 2014.

Golf started out for me as a bore, then it became an obsession and then it became my career. In truth, golf has given me everything."