Book heaps praise on ‘spare time’ heroes

AT a time when so much focus in the world of golf is on the professional game, it is good to see that the amateurs are not being forgotten.

Well-known broadcaster and journalist Shane O’Donoghue’s book Legends In Their Spare Time (Niche Publication, 25) has just been published and salutes the achievements of nine outstanding Irish male and female golfers.

O’Donoghue, a native of Clonmel and a very useful five5 handicap player himself, takes an in-depth look at the careers of Jimmy Bruen, Joe Carr, Jody Fanagan, Noel Fogarty, Philomena Garvey, Garth McGimpsey, Mary McKenna, Arthur Pierse and David Sheahan.

The author has clearly been exhaustive in his research of his nine subjects and has also come up with a number of previously unpublished pictures which help to make this a particularly fascinating read.

The magnificent life and times of Jimmy Bruen have previously been saluted by George Crosbie in his outstanding book The Bruen Loop but one can never hear too much of the exploits of a man who scaled the game’s heights with a swing that was not exactly orthodox. Very much the same applies to Joe Carr, who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in Florida. A flamboyant character who, like Bruen, never worried unduly about the niceties of the golf swing, Joe was so effective that he captured three British

Amateur Championships and made a record number of appearances in the Walker Cup.

Jody Fanagan, Garth McGimpsey, Arthur Pierse and David Sheahan also made their mark in the Walker Cup. But Noel Fogarty never enjoyed that honour, almost certainly because the Royal Dublin man was at this prime at a time when Irish golfers needed to be twice as good as those from across-channel to gain recognition. However, the pictures in the book of ‘Fogo’ in action in his profession as a bookmaker and carrying his bicycle to victory after a crash in the one mile Irish championship will delight all those who have the privilege of knowing this great Irish sportsman.

Then there are the ladies, Philomena Garvey from Baltray and Mary McKenna from Dublin. Philomena, now 81, once withdrew from a British & Irish Curtis Cup team because the badge on the blazer was the Union Jack. That took courage and sacrifice but as we read in O’Donoghue’s book, when Phil’s offer of wearing the badge from her previous Curtis Cup appearance that carried an Irish emblem was turned down, she never hesitated.

The Ladies Golfing Union immediately learned the error of their ways, the old badge was restored and as a consequence, a whole legion of other Irish lady players never had to face that problem in the course of their own illustrious careers.


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