Next step of my golfing journey beckons

Not making the GB & Ireland Walker Cup team that faced the United States at the weekend was disappointing but it was nothing I wasn’t expecting.

I was delighted my good friend Paul McBride was selected and the 10 players who represented GB&I at Los Angeles Country Club all deserved to be there.

It would have been tough to leave out any of them, so I can’t be too disappointed.

It’s been quite frustrating for me at times; I feel like I’ve been playing really nicely but take the South of Ireland, I came second in strokeplay qualifying in difficult conditions at Lahinch but then came up against someone hot in Portmarnock’s Darragh Coghlan for the first round of matchplay. 

I was playing well, one under after 15 but Darragh was five under, which was very good given the conditions.

I went to Mullingar for the Scratch Cup, finished second there as well, behind my Ireland team-mate Stuart Grehan and was very solid there for four rounds.

The highlight of the summer was being a part of another winning Home Internationals side. It was fantastic to claim a fourth title in a row. Myself, Colm Campbell and JR Galbraith have been on every one of those four teams, which is a good achievement for us but defending the crown will be a big ask now, with fellas going pro.

So it’s been a mixed bag but I feel I’m okay with where my game is heading into another big month. I’m thankful to the GUI for the invitation into the professional field for the Volopa Irish Challenge at Mount Wolseley, starting on Thursday. I had been practising for towards this tournament in the hope of receiving an invitation and it came last week.

It will be a great opportunity to assess where my game’s at because after that I’ll be going to European Tour Q-School for the first time, with the First Stage in Portugal, at Lisbon’s Ribagolfe from September 26-29.

I’m looking forward to the challenge but not getting too excited about. I’ll take it all on the chin and see what happens. 

I haven’t gone out of my way to seek advice about the Q-School process, other than talking to my coaches Noel Fox and Neil Manchip, and Peter O’Keeffe, who’s now my strength and conditioning coach as well as my Ireland team-mate and playing partner at the Home Internationals.

Peter played on the Challenge Tour and went to Q-School and knows the score.

Now that I’ve graduated from Maynooth University I’ve left behind such a good support system that’s in place there on campus for the Paddy Harrington Scholars, so I’m trying to emulate that a bit by setting up my own team around me with Noel and Neil and Peter and a good friend of mine Eddie Jackman doing the physio for me. 

It’s really nice having those guys and others helping me out. I’ve always been sports mad, used to play a lot of hurling so I’ve always had a huge interest in fitness and been relatively fit but it’s been great working with Peter. 

I want to go to the gym with a purpose rather than just doing my own thing and it needs to be helping my golf, he has his golf fitness studio in Blackpool in Cork and I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements I’ll get from the programme he’s given me.

I still have one visit to Maynooth University to complete and that’s for my graduation ceremony. So if the golf doesn’t go well in the next couple of months I’ll always have my degree to fall back on. 

The brilliant thing for me is that my degree in Equine Business is something that I’m really interested in and it’s an industry would love to have a career in, so I’m in a win-win situation going to Q-School.

I’m very relaxed about it all and taking it in my stride because I’m also mad into the horse racing and the industry as a whole, the breeding, and the sales. And having that interest and desire to work in that area at some stage takes the pressure off me, I feel, when it comes to my bid to turn pro as a golfer. 

If everything goes to plan it’s something I want to get into after golf but the horses and horse racing is something I’m determined to learn more about. So it’s either the golf or the horse racing for me.


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