The Garda who won the Golf: Carew eyeing pro golf dream

Ronan MacNamara

Garda Quentin Carew back at work with his gleaming AIG Irish Close trophy - Image @gardainfo

Ronan MacNamara

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The Golf Ireland season has come to an end, meaning many of the country’s top amateurs will spend the winter putting the clubs away to take stock on their year or grinding on the cold foggy nights in the range. 

For Castleknock’s Quentin Carew he will spend the winter pondering what he does next as he considers entering the paid ranks and turning professional next year. 

It’s a decision that many would not have foreseen for him but after striking gold at the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship in August the door to the professional game has creaked open a little wider and at 31 years of age, he feels it could be now or never. 

“I’m pondering my future for next year, there are options to take career breaks so I’m wondering if I take a few years off should I try and make the leap up and turn pro and give it a go, I’ve not decided yet,” said Carew who has the option of taking a career break from the Garda Station in Tallaght. 

“That’s a decision I’ll have to make over the next while. I didn’t want to turn pro without achieving something at amateur level and have something to be proud of now I wonder should I keep riding the train and keep it going because I’m enjoying my golf as well. 

“At 31 I’m running out of time in some respects!” 

Carew a native of the small town of Abbeyfeale in Kildare where he played Gaelic football, is a regular range rat in the Peter Lawrie ran Spawell Driving Range whom he has befriended and picked his brain about turning professional. 

“I know myself in a few years’ time if I didn’t do it, I’ll always regret not trying it. I’m under no illusions it’s a step by step and it’s very difficult. If I don’t try, I’ll never know. 

“Peter said people will give out to you for not trying, they won’t for trying.  

“It’s ever present in my mind and I’m leaning more towards that.” 

Carew’s Irish Close win in Headfort Golf Club was one of the great stories in Irish Amateur Golf, less than a year after suffering a back injury following a car accident, he began 2022 only able to complete 18 holes of golf. 

But with adversity often comes perspective and a renewed sense of motivation. While recovering, the Tallaght based Garda came into the year with a fresh sense of purpose and dedicated himself to golf with an eye to winning and potentially turning pro. 

“When the accident happened that was one of the things that pushed me to give golf a real good go. You want to take advantage of every opportunity,” said Carew who holds honorary life membership in Edenderry Golf Club. 

“By the way it finished it was a good year. My target at the start of the year was to win one of the championships and I achieved that. I wanted to win one of the earlier ones to push through for the Leinster team and stuff like that. Obviously I’ll take whichever one I get and this was one worth waiting for. 

“The start of the year was tough managing my back injury and other things like that. It’s about getting into the winter and getting into the gym and working on it. I’m really happy with how the year went and it’s a good stepping stone for next year to push on further. 

“I promised myself I would make a better commitment to golf and that was always the thing. Those evenings coming in off a nightshift it’s very difficult to get yourself out of bed early and hit a few balls. It was hard to get into a routine but when I had the leave I tried to get as much work in as I could. 

“The win justified that so the lads in work didn’t think I was off having a great time!” 

Carew defeated North and South of Ireland champion Hugh Foley on the 20th hole to win his first major title. The 200/1 outsider came from four down after nine holes to complete a dramatic comeback. 

The turning point in the match came when Carew won the tenth and twelfth holes either side of a crucial eight-footer for a half on 11. 

Having won the fourteenth, Carew played one of the shots of the tournament as he drilled a 3-wood to four feet on the treacherous par-5 16th to level affairs – then he believed the impossible was possible. 

“If I misjudged it and it went long, I am dead. I aimed it just left of the pin and let it fade. I remember watching it in the air and I was waiting for it to fly big, and it landed perfectly and rolled to four feet. I remember when I hit that I thought I could win, it was here for me. 

“Hitting great shots under pressure was huge.” 

In truth, those that were in attendance will admit that Carew played all the big shots. Having passed up opportunities on the 18th and 19th to win, he regained his composure and delivered one of the great shots in Irish amateur golf with a 2-iron from 267 yards to eight feet for a winning eagle. 

“I was standing there looking at the shot. I could have laid back at the drain. I remember saying to Duggie [caddy] that Hugh’s short game from 100 yards in is lethal, he will bridie it. My best chance is to go for it. 

“A risk with red stakes up the left but I was thinking any time I had to hit a shot hard I hit it well. I knew I was nervous so you hit it harder with the tension. So I wanted the 2-iron and hit it as hard as I could at the tree at the right and it came out like a rocket. 

“It was struggling to turn at the last second and it came down lovely at the front edge and rolled out towards the hole, I was told it lipped out and that would have been too much to ask for it to drop. 

“I was full on sure Hugh would hole his 20-footer for birdie, I thought it was in. I took a breath knowing I had two for it. 

“Duggie usually helped me with the putts, but I said leave me be. I could nearly feel him shaking behind me. I could feel the tension in my hands and I backed off a bit. I was so nervous over the putt, and I got the ball turning over and it went in. It was more relief than anything else. 

“Thank God it was over. It took so much that week, it was surreal” he laughed. 

“I left Edenderry for Castleknock just because it was easier where I was working and to be fair, they never had a problem with it. The support from both clubs was fantastic I got some lovely texts the whole way through and had great support on the course. I even felt like the Headfort members were sort of on my side in the final.” 

It’s an amazing story after Carew was the 64th and final strokeplay qualifier at the eleventh hour – in fact he had already consigned himself to elimination and written off the year while caddying for his father in the Edenderry Captain’s Prize. 

At 65th after two rounds of strokeplay qualifying, he needed the golfing gods to shine on him and luckily, they did, and he edged into the 64th and final spot after a better back nine than Roscommon’s Allan Hill in round two saw him through. 

“The first couple of stroke play rounds were frustrating, I didn’t play well, and it was the last tournament of the year, you want to give it a good go. I remember leaving and I was so annoyed with myself and felt like I blew it again and I felt like the year was a write off. 

“I found out I was the 64th man in right at the last second.” 

Carew’s run to the final was electric beating East of Ireland winner and course record holder Alex Maguire before he saw off Rory Milne, Jake Foley, Sam Murphy and Paul Conroy. 

It was a 2&1 win over Amateur Championship semi-finalist Maguire that gave him the belief that he could go all the way although his body holding up was going to be constant hurdle. 

“When I beat Alex that was the first moment I had a bit of belief because he was one of the top lads still in it, after shooting the course record the day before so he was in form.  

“As the matches went on I thought maybe I had a chance. At the same time I was thinking of my back and how I could play 36, 36 every day, that was a good thing as it reduced my nerves a little. 

“It was about getting through each hole, my brother Duggie was a huge help, he just kept talking to me on the way round and he’d leave me if I needed a moment. He was really good at gauging the key moments,” added Carew who found out his spine had moved out of place following his quarter-final victory over Conroy before having it corrected by a chiropractor. 

After celebrating in both Edenderry and Castleknock it was back to the day job 48 hours later but that didn’t mean the attention stopped in Tallaght Garda Station, in more ways than one! 

“On my first day back I was told to bring it in and two days after I won I was back in work and brought it in and a few who were golfers came over and took photos with it. It was really nice got a lot of emails and texts from people which was great. I’m getting a sports award with the guards so that will be fantastic. 

“A few times I’ve been on calls and a few people who have been arrested have come in and said ‘oh you’re the guard who won the golf!’ So that’s kind of funny, it’s been good the reaction and support has been great. I’m enjoying work and getting back to the routine.” 

Carew spent his childhood playing in Edenderry where his father was a member. He used to get dropped there with his brothers and friends in the morning and get collected near dusk during the summer, so it was fitting that the red carpet was rolled out for him to celebrate his win. 

“The celebration in Edenderry was brilliant. There was a guard of honour with a huge sign on the door, got clapped in the door with my family did a big Q&A thing which was great craic telling a few stories about my time in Edenderry. It was great for my father he’s a member there for around 40 years so he was delighted himself to have that night there. 

“I went back to Castleknock the night of the win and that was fantastic as well, there was a standing ovation and everything which was weird because I’m not used to doing anything. 

“I’ll never forget the whole experience.” 

2022 has been a great year for the part-time amateurs in their 30s with Carew and Colm Campbell scooping both National titles. 

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