While he hails from London home to the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, John Gough is a Royal in more ways than one. Royal blood courses through his veins but not in the conventional sense with associations as close to the High Kings of Tara as they are King Charles.
From Dunderry to Kilmessan, Athboy to Navan, Royal Tara to Headfort, England’s Gough has family ties all across the county of Meath.
“Everyone knows everyone in Meath and everyone has relatives around the county,” Gough laughs as he breaks up the four hour journey from London to Royal Lytham for the 57th Lytham Trophy where he is defending champion.
His father is from Dunderry while he has cousins in Athboy and his uncle and aunt own Fergie’s pub in Kilmessan. Gough will be returning to Irish shores for next month’s Flogas Men’s Irish Amateur Open Championship in what will feel like a home event for him.
Although he is born and raised just outside London, the Englishman always looks forward to coming back to his home away from home.
“Every time I come back I go out in Trim. There are some good tracks around there. My uncle and cousin are Headfort members,” says Gough whose mother comes from Newry.
“We go back a couple of times a year, my mum and dad moved over to England before they had me and my brother.
“I’m an Irish rugby fan, they’re my team. I think I was just a bit of a glory hunter when I was younger, they used to wipe the floor with everyone in rugby. One of my second cousins plays for Meath as well so I’ve a lot going on there!”
Fifty five international players are pencilled in to make the journey to the Island Golf Club for the Flogas Men’s Irish Amateur Open Championship with Gough the highest ranked player in the field at 14th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the time of writing.
Gough has close relationships with Hugh Foley, former UNC Charlotte mate Marc Boucher and Robert Moran who he will be rooming with throughout the week, while he expects a decent family following especially if he can give himself a chance on Sunday as he makes his first Irish Amateur appearance since coming second to Robin Dawson in 2018.
“I used to always play the underage Irish events. The last time I played the Irish AM was in Royal County Down. It would mean a lot to win, I came close in County Down I was second and my mum is from Newry in Down so it was as close as I could get.
“Obviously to win in the Island around Dublin where I have a lot of family would be very meaningful. It will feel like a home event for me I think, a lot of family will be there, they see me as a lot better than what I am but I never let it get in the way of the ego!
“We are all very close, Scotland and Wales have kind of been left behind with their performances so I feel the English and Irish have the strongest players in GB&I. For the Irish AM I will be staying with Rob Moran because he doesn’t live too far away from the Island.
“I went to school in America with Marc Boucher and Conor Purcell so I’ve always had ties to Irish golf.I played the Island a few times, the last time was the British AM and I haven’t been there since they changed a few holes. I feel my game is in a lot better shape than the last time I played an Irish AM. I feel a lot more confident turning up to events. Having family there this year will help me settle a bit and hopefully get off to a good start,” adds Gough who has already won the Master of the Amateurs in Australia this year.
While he is English born and bred – although he will claim to have more Irish habits than Foley! – Gough certainly immerses himself in Irish culture when he comes across the pond, however, he wouldn’t have made county he admits.
“I love being out in the country. A lot of my family live out in the sticks as they call it. I love it because it’s a break away from living over near London. When I go over I used to ride dirt bikes with my cousins, go to puc fada’s, it brings out my country side.
“I’ve played Gaelic football a couple of times, my mum’s brother in law runs a junior team in Northern Ireland and I played a few games for them when they were short of a few players. I need a bit more practice I’m not as good at that as I am at golf!
“As long as I play golf I won’t touch a hurley, because I’ve seen some injuries so I’ll leave that. I have a few friends that play in Royal Tara who are some of the longest hitters I know and they hit it cack-handed with the hurling grip and I have no idea where they get the power from.
“My uncle made wooden kitchens and he used to make the hurleys for the Dunderry team and he always made me one. I needed the goalkeeper’s one I need the bigger face.
“I always watch games there when I’m home. There are literally two pubs in Dunderry and everyone knows each other but even though I don’t live there it’s a very homely feeling.”
The old saying is that Guinness doesn’t travel well but the 24-year-old from Stoke Park wouldn’t be able to offer up an opinion as he only saves his lips for the proper black stuff in Fergie’s.
“Only when I’m there in Ireland. My aunt and uncle own a pub in Kilmessan, I don’t drink it over here in England I only drink it over there.
“They do see me as one of their own but they don’t like that I play under the English flag. Every time I see Hugh I say to him I’m more Irish than you!”
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