Finally, a New Year’s resolution I think I can manage

Mark McGowan

Sunset in Naas. Photo by Kevin Markham

Mark McGowan

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Happy New Year, dear readers, though I suspect many of you may be grappling the January blues.

Physics 101 states that what goes up, must come down, so it’s only natural that those of us who hit the bottle and the sugary goods a little too much over the festive period have come back to earth with an unforgiving bang.

It’s a time for resolution, and like almost every January that’s preceded this one, I’m making strong commitments for the coming year.

No, I’m not joining a gym. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve taken out a membership in the New Year, only to cancel it after two months due to lack of use.

No, I’m not giving up alcohol – not even for a month. Dry January is a great concept but having a birthday two weeks in is all the excuse I’ve ever needed to break the fast. Plus, I really enjoy a few beers or a few glasses of wine and have never seen the point in denying myself one of life’s little pleasures. Cut back? Yes. Cut out? No thanks.

And no, I’m not going to learn any new skills or hobbies. I’ve already got a guitar that I can hardly play, a bike that I hardly ride and a fishing rod that I hardly ever cast with.

Instead, this year I’m setting realistic goals; attainable goals; goals that, quite frankly, I’ll be disgusted if I don’t achieve. My main goal for 2023 is to play more golf.

Looking back at 2022, I can actually count the number of times my clubs have seen daylight, and for somebody with a golf club membership, that’s shameful. Okay, it’s not like my weekends were spent wallowing alone at home – I travelled the length and breadth of the country going to football matches, weddings, concerts, and festivals of all sorts, so something had to give. Unfortunately, golf was it.

But I’ve recently relocated to the North-West, a fifty-minute drive from my hometown (and home club), with one of Ireland’s top links courses – which I’m also hoping to join – virtually on my doorstep.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be subjecting myself to a torturous five-hour trek in the kind of weather that the Atlantic coast is infamous for, but if it’s even semi-decent out, then I’m hoping to play, and if I don’t need several hands to count the number of times I tee it up this year, then I’ll have no excuses.

I’m not setting any handicap goals, not looking to break par for the first time, not even hoping to win any competitions. I just want to play.

A secondary goal for the year is to add at least one bucket-list Irish course to my paltry resume.

One of the perks of this job is that we’re given the opportunity to travel abroad and play some of the continent’s top courses along with a contingent of international press. Without fail, upon learning I’m Irish, they’re only too delighted to tell me about their Irish golfing experiences, and the string of top-class courses they’ve played here.

Sheepishly, I’ll inevitably reply that I’ve yet to play most of them. This is, of course, largely my own fault. Sure, if I want to play Royal County Down, for example, I can. I just have to fork out more than I’d generally be comfortable in paying for a round of golf, but unless you’re Buddhist, Sikh or Hindu, you only live once.

But if you’re going the traditional resolution route and giving up the ciggies, aiming to get a six-pack, taking up yoga, or planning to finally start loading that savings account, I salute you, and I wish you well.

But for once, I’m fairly confident that I’ll achieve mine.

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