Four years ago Josh Hogan teed up on a golf course for the first time. Four days ago he was receiving one-to-one advice from Rory McIlroy’s coach Michael Bannon.
Having dabbled in pitch and putt as a youngster, Hogan was drawn more and more towards watching Tiger Woods and company on television as he approached his 12th birthday.
His father’s old golf clubs were dusted down and it was quickly apparent that this was more than a passing phase for the Carrigaline youngster.
Even his father Brian is trying to get his head around it all.
“Josh is 16 now and up until a few weeks ago never had a golf lesson. He just took to the game naturally. He was a member down in Bantry where, without receiving any coaching, he is playing off nine.
“One of the members down there saw him and thought he had huge potential. So he put us in touch with Geoff Loughrey who is a top PGA Professional and a member of The Michael Bannon Golf team.”
Loughrey, who is based in Roganstown Golf Club, obviously liked what he saw. He has spent the last few weeks rebuilding the young prodigy’s swing and laying the foundations for a stab at some serious competitions next year.
And when an opportunity came — via a charity fundraiser for Crumlin’s Children Hospital — to join an elite group of 15 players for a coaching session with Bannon, Loughrey had no hesitation in talking up the Cork teenager. “It was a once in a lifetime experience,” dad Brian continued, “we were there from 9.30am to 5.30pm. It was very intense but incredibly rewarding.”
Son Josh is still processing the tsunami of information.
“It was amazing, there were 15 of us there and Michael Bannon took time to talk to every one of us.
“We all got to play three holes each with him and he gave us tips on our play, the mistakes we were making, how to work on them and how to improve. We then had a questions and answers session with him where most of the talk was about Rory and the work he does with him. After lunch we had a putting clinic working on drills, lines, pace and that sort of things. Then we had video analysis of our swings along with comparing it to Rory’s which was pretty cool. But the knowledge and experience he has is phenomenal.”
And last week’s clinic in Roganstown has given Hogan a taste for more of the big time.
“I’m so lucky to be working with Geoff — he is one of the best coaches in Ireland and has big plans for me. Hopefully I will be going to Barcelona next year for the Evolve Junior Championship and there are a few other things we are looking towards like the Junior Championships in St Andrew’s. But the first aim is to get down to scratch within the next 12 months.”
And the goals aren’t just short term. Hogan is already planning for the future. “Becoming a professional golfer would be my dream. Making money from a game I love. Now that would be a nice way to live.”
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