A Slice of Life: Kim O’Neill on the journey to 30,000


Kim O'Neill before her first full round at Cahir Park Golf Course

From Alexandra O’Laughlin to Mia Baker, the women’s golf influencer game has exploded in recent years with Instagram a clear pathway to grow your brand and build a career in the sport.

Ireland lagged behind for years in that regard but golfers like Kim O’Neill have bucked the trend and after breaking the 30,000 followers marker, she is excited about a future full of opportunity.

The 26-year-old began to build her profile during the Pandemic and she overcame her perceived insecurities to make her dream become a reality.


“It’s incredible to actually hit 30,000,” said O’Neill.

“Never in a million years, to be honest, did I think my page would ever grow that far and that many people would be interested in my journey but it’s incredible and I hope it continues to grow.”

O’Neill is from Douglas in Cork and she only picked up the game after Covid-19 struck – golf gave her the chance to play sport again.

She was sports-mad growing up, she played soccer, camogie, Gaelic football, tennis and horse riding but injury cut short any chance of a career on those fields.

Kim O'Neill Pic2
Kim O’Neill pictured with Eimear McManus (left) and Jenny Hennessy (right)


“I was about 15 or 16 when I injured my left knee and they just said if I got another bad tackle like that again it could do the cruciate, so I was a chicken when I gave it up,” joked O’Neill.

“Basically, what happened was I was on the goal-line and someone stood on my knee on where it would bend on the inside and it strained something in there.”

Nevertheless her father, Declan, and brother, John, were on hand to get her out playing golf for the first time.

They went to the local Frankfield Driving Range and straight away O’Neill was hooked.

“When I first tried it it frustrated the heck out of me, it actually drove me crazy because it’s so hard,” said O’Neill.

“So I think because it’s such a difficult sport and it’s so hard to be good at, that’s kind of what  hooked me. As soon as I realised I could hit the ball and I had good enough distance I was just completely hooked.

“Especially with the difficulty level you really have to try hard to be good at it and, not to sound cocky or anything, but I was ok at other sports, nothing was ever too difficult for me.

“But golf caught me on the hop, so I think that’s why I was drawn to it.”

O’Neill had found her calling and together with a full-time marketing job she began to put some time aside for a new venture.

Being a visual learner, she was videoing her swings and with a bank of content to go to, the next logical step was to transform that into her own journey online.

However, she knew no one had attempted what she was about to do, and the thought of putting her videos out to the rest of the world to judge, scared her at first.

“I texted one of my friends and was like, would I be a complete weirdo if I did this and she was just like no, go for it,” said O’Neill.

“I was like sure look what’s the worst that can happen, I can just chuck some stuff up and it might help other people, it will also help me to review my own swing and that was it really.

“But I definitely was scared at the start. I am a shy person and always have bee, growing up, it’s only now I’m really starting to come out of my shell and become more confident and golf is the reason for that.

“But at the start, no definitely shy, definitely worried about what people would think. Definitely worried that people would be talking about me saying, oh who does your one think she is?”

That mindset is something she believes is inherently ingrained in young Irish people, and girls in particular, hence the lack of women operating as golf influencers on Instagram.

However, with the help of family and friends, she plucked up the courage and her odyssey began, with 30,000 followers to go.

Kim O'Neill Pic3
(L-R) Kim O’Neill pictured with Eimear McManus and the ‘Iron Birdies’


“There are some negative comments that will come along with that as well but I filtered it out pretty quickly, I set up a monitoring tool on the page that would block inappropriate comments because I know that a lot of my audience are younger and some are beginner golfers and I don’t want that to impact them as well,” said O’Neill.

“It was tough at the start because I didn’t want to be putting myself out there like that, am I sure I want be opening myself up to that kind of commentary? But as soon as I did realise that I could limit what people can say, and that a lot of them are just keyboard warriors, it got a bit easier then and I got more used to it.

“Then I was at like 8,000 followers and for some reason all of my family and friends and cousins and extended friends just started sharing my stuff as well and then before I knew it, it hit 10,000, 12,000 and 14,000, it just kept growing.”

O’Neill was determined to find a community to integrate with at home in Ireland, and she has, with the likes of Eimear McManus, who works with the KPMG Women’s Irish Open and Jenny Hennessy from ‘Chicks with Sticks’.

She is continuing her pursuit, looking to grow the influencer game here, and while she maintains her consistent output of content on Instagram, she is getting more competitive on the fairways too.

A couple of weeks ago she took part in her first competition at Slieve Russell and after Wilson came calling, no doubt seeing the potential that is there, she has a new found belief that she can make it in the golf game.

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Kim O’Neill is excited about her future in golf


“It’s mind blowing to be honest, I still can’t believe it myself,” said O’Neill.

“You know there are people there that would just come up and say hi to me. It just mad, it’s weird I’m not used to it at all and just the fact that Wilson did come on board, it’s a real confidence boost.

“They are obviously seeing the authenticity behind what I’m trying to do in growing the game and increasing women’s reputation within the game.

“There’s just a lot of Irish people that are surprised to see an Irish girl golf Instagram page because there are so many from the US, there are so many in the UK there is no one in Ireland doing it at the level that I’m trying to do it.

“I would love to see more and more young people playing golf, for me it would just be to continue with the page hopefully still having an impact, getting to play more courses, getting better at golf.

“I mean, ideally in the future I could make golf my full-time job.”

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One response to “A Slice of Life: Kim O’Neill on the journey to 30,000”

  1. Bill Lawlor avatar
    Bill Lawlor

    Kim O’Neill from Douglas in Cork! Keep giving it wellie! Not only are you talking to the new cohort
    of women and girls, but after your own injury, you will find a cohort of Disability women golfers who will be delighted to find such a leader!

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