It’s a serious juggling act combining international golf with a degree course but in my final year at Maynooth University, I think I’ve just about got the balance right.
I’ve been a senior international for the last three years since I moved out of boys’ golf, and I’m in my third year doing Equine Business. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a long time, in the blood almost. My dad and my uncles have a big interest in racing and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it and love the thoroughbred side of racing, it’s brilliant.
And aside from the degree, I’m delighted to receive a Paddy Harrington Scholarship. It was one of the big reasons why I went to Maynooth because my course and my golf development are both taken care of, they complement each other.
This summer, with my final exams out of the way, it will be full-time golf once again. Not that I’ve ignored my game during the academic year — it’s been pretty full on.
In Arizona over the New Year, Stuart Grehan and myself played in the Patriot All-American tournament, which was a really good event and a great experience. The organisers brought us to Luke Air Force Base which was nearby and that was cool to see how the US military works.
Barry Fennelly, the golf manager at Maynooth University, organised it for us and it was my third year there on a really tough golf course. I had to go back to a couple of exams unfortunately but then Maynooth brought us to Quinta de Lago on the Algarve for a week’s practice in warm weather, which suited us because after a couple of days back at university we went down to South Africa and it was really helpful to have got some winter preparation in good conditions beforehand.
It paid dividends as well, because I had two strong weeks down there, with runner-up finishes at both the South African Amateur and the Cape Province Open and I think the reason I did so well was that due to that week in Portugal.
It could easily have been two wins but things didn’t go my way but I’ll take it on the chin and move on. It’s nice to be in contention, up there competing. I really enjoy that element of it. In the Cape Province Open, Garrick Higgo, a South African lad, got a really good chip-in at the fourth extra hole and fair play to him for that but maybe the next time it will go my way.
It’s a good job I enjoy the travelling because golf at this level requires a lot of it. I could sleep anywhere, on the floor, or in the car, so I’m very comfortable with all the elements of travelling and it’s great getting to see all the different places. South Africa was so cool. The scenery is unbelievable and the food was spectacular. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing.
There’s a lot more travelling ahead of me this year with the Lytham Trophy, St Andrews Links, the Brabazon, British Amateur, European Individual, the European Men’s, Home Internationals, and the West of Ireland as well.
It’s an incredibly busy 2017 schedule. There’s also the R&A Bursar’s tournament and if you win that, you get on the Palmer Cup team, so that’s another big one to look forward to. It’s on at Atlanta Athletic Club this year so that would be a great team to be on. And at the end of the year is what everyone strives for — the Walker Cup. That would be really nice to be involved in but over the years I’ve seen a lot of players’ performances disimprove because of the pressure of wanting to get on that team, so I’m going to try and not think about that too much. I like to go with the flow, do my own thing, go through my normal routines before each round and go and play. That’s all I can worry about, reflect on my round and try and improve for the next one. That’s it really, if you think about it too much, you’re in trouble.
There wasn’t too much to think about at Carton House the other day when a few of the guys were invited to do a photo shoot for Under Armour. The GUI have done a great deal with them to supply the Ireland teams with our gear and uniforms. The shoot was good fun, with myself, Alex Gleeson, Kevin LeBlanc, and our national coach Neil Manchip. Gleeson is the biggest poser without a doubt but I don’t think he’d agree with that! There’s no catwalk models amongst us, that’s for sure.
It’s back to competitive golf this week. I’m moving on to the Spanish International Amateur Championship, which starts tomorrow at El Saler near Valencia.
It’s going to be a really nice tournament with a really strong field and it should be a good one. We’re such a closely bunched group of players now, everyone is playing well and it’s usually just down to one or two putts here or there that make the difference.
It was nice to get close in those two weeks in South Africa and maybe things will go my way here in Spain.
- Robin Dawson is a current Ireland international and a member of the GUI Men’s Panel.