The moment I knew golf was for me

​​Golf is one of those sports where seemingly everyone who is successful in their attempt at hitting a ball in their local driving range, falls in love.

  • 05 June 2019

​Caption: Celebrations after Courtown win the 2019 AIG Junior Foursomes (Image by Jenny Matthews)

“Golf is boring.”

“It’s too slow.”

“Golf isn’t a sport.”

“Golf is for when you retire.”

Besides the obvious issues surrounding slow play in the modern professional and amateur game, the above statements are generally heard only from those who would never refer to themselves as golfers. 

Golf is one of those sports where seemingly everyone who is successful in their attempt at hitting a ball in their local driving range, falls in love. And while this relationship may be more love-hate than head-over-heels there is no denying that the sport always leaves one coming back for more. 

Interested to hear untold stories, we posed the following question to players, staff and volunteers of the Irish Ladies Golf Union and to the general golfing public;

“The moment I knew golf was for me was when….”

“Tough to pick just one!” remarked one person who went on to site the heroics of Greg Norman, the 1995 Ryder Cup and beating Paul O’Connell in the club Junior Matchplay as his top three moments. 

Historic moments from the sport’s best, such as Tiger’s chip in at the Masters and that 2iron from Christy O’Connor Jr. at the 1989 Ryder Cup were also mentioned while one respondent has enjoyed following the players closer to home at the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship at Co. Louth for the past three years.

Quality time on the course with family was a significant trend and one person simply replied;

“Walking the fairways with my now 19-year-old son, just chatting and hitting golf balls.”

Excursions to the Irish Open with fathers and sharing time on the putting green with daughters are moments not to be forgotten for others. 
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Caption: A young Sara Byrne (Douglas) with her Dad Derek

Some attribute friendships they have made since picking up golf to their continued enjoyment.

“When I realised I could get to see so many different parts of the world and represent my country in the sport I love – whilst making lifelong friends along the way – I knew it was pretty special!” said past International Jessica Carty. 

“I was dragged kicking and screaming to a golf lesson in Portugal. Was hooked after the very first ball I hit. It only went 40 yards but the sound was so sweet! Absolutely in love with the game and all the friendship and fun it has brought into my life,” remarked another person.

The type of coaching received when a beginner was a reason for Confederation of Golf in Ireland’s Anne McCormack falling in love and ultimately finding a career encouraging others to take up the sport.

“I was having a lesson with one of the professionals in Ealing Golf Club - up to that point I’d always found lessons boring - the same thing each week but this coach let us design the activities & be creative, we were hitting over buckets, under trees, through castle gates – it made it much more enjoyable for me!”
Caption: Fun activities at a Golf4Girls4Life Festival

Fifteen-year-old Beth Coulter has played camogie since she was three, golf was never on her radar. 

“I would have never ever have considered playing golf – I didn’t even know what it was!” she laughed as she waited for a shower to pass on the practice ground of Royal County Down Golf Club where she is preparing for the Women’s Amateur Championship.

“When I was nine, Neil Graham - the Professional at Kirkistown Castle, came into our primary school and offered five weeks after school coaching. Obviously I am very competitive, so I was like, oh yeah I’ll give that a try.”

“Neil made everything really fun and competitive which attracted me. The first time I hit a golf ball was in our school hall with plastic golf clubs. Neil put this big suit on at the end of the session every week, the golf balls would stick to him and we would try to hit him! He had this big box of drumstick lollypops and whoever hit him the most times got those!”

Fast-forward two years and Beth had played her way onto the ILGU Horizon Performance Panel and was selected for the U14 team for a friendly match against Wales alongside Aine Donegan and Anna Dawson. 

“That was when I thought, OK I want to actually start practicing really hard and try and see where it goes.” 
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Caption: Beth Coulter (Kirkistown Castle) - Image by Golffile

Although none of her family played, and still don’t, role-models were quickly found for Coulter who has now become a source of inspiration for others in her short six-year golf career to date. Just this week she was selected to represent Great Britain and Ireland in the Junior Vagliano Trophy.

“The very first event I played outside of Kirkistown was the Ulster Girls’ at the Annesley Course in Royal County Down. I can remember seeing other girls there, everyone was much older than me and I remember Julie McCarthy and Clodagh Jones were in the final. I was just looking up to them, they were so much older, they hit the ball so far, I was just like this little 10 or 11-year-old walking about thinking it was the coolest place in the world!”

“Julie [McCarthy] was winning all the girls championships when I started, I looked up to her. I was definitely aware of the twins [Lisa and Leona Maguire] as well, my dad was always talking about them! Yesterday I actually was in Royal County Down and walked into the clubhouse and this American guy called me over and asked was I Leona Maguire, I was like ‘I wish!’

Whatever level the game is played at, everyone has their own stories and anecdotes to tell. For some it is love at first sight, others take a little longer to warm to golf’s list of benefits. Whatever your ‘moment’ might be, we found this beautifully explained comparison sent to us to be very relatable:

“Like touching the wall in swimming after a 1500 freestyle. Beautifully rewarding, but it takes time to get there!”

by Carla Reynolds