Why elite amateur golf is soup for the soul

Mark McGowan

Keith Egan hits his tee shot on the 9th enroute to winning the 2024 West of Ireland

Mark McGowan

Feature Interviews

Latest Stories

Prizemoney? Zero. Accommodation? Sort your own and get it where you can find it. Courtesy cars? Yeah, right. Everything that is good about golf? Absolutely.

That’s what we got at the West of Ireland Championship last week. And for anybody fortunate enough to be there, it was just what the doctor ordered.

As men’s professional golf – at the elite end of the spectrum, at least – continues to eat itself up and the greed and sense of entitlement of many players causes more and more fans to fall out of touch and out of love with the pro game, it’s worth remembering that that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Ridiculously talented though they may be, the players at the very top exist in a world far removed from the average golfer. They stay in the finest hotels, have the red carpet rolled out wherever they and the travelling circus they call their ‘team’ go, have manufacturer’s equipment trucks on site so that they can change their wedges every other week, get fresh clothing delivered to their rooms for each tournament day, even have their shoes delivered with their desired spike brand and patterns – yes, that is definitely a thing – already installed.

Do they deserve it? Well, yeah. They are the best of the best. The one percent of the one percent. They are so far ahead of a single digit handicapper that it’s barely recognisable that they’re playing the same sport, but even still, to hear them complain about prizemoney, about not having their preferred brand of orange juice in player dining, or about having to be on the road for three weeks at a time is a little jarring.

But last week served as a very welcome reminder that there is an alternate universe out there; one where players playing a game that’s still unrecognisable to the likes of me and to most of those reading this, turned up and gave their blood, sweat and tears – well, hopefully not blood – all in the name of competition, in the hope that they could get their name on a trophy already engraved with ‘Harrington’, ‘McIlroy’, ‘Lowry’, among others.

Yes, the weather helped – sunshine in late March/early April is a rare commodity in the north west, and who knows when the next bout will come around – and yes, having a local man reach the final helped too, but there were hundreds who turned out in support and countless volunteers who gave up spells of their weekend to direct traffic, to enter a score onto a phone app, to act as ball spotters and many more often unseen and regularly thankless tasks that make these tournaments possible.

And the competition was excellent. PGA Tour players they may not be, but they’re not far off. Anybody who can shoot under-par in the type of wind that swept across the links at County Sligo Golf Club on Rosses Point on day two of strokeplay is supremely talented. Transplant 140 PGA Tour pros out to the same course and in the same conditions, there’d be plenty who’d end the day on the leaderboard looking up at the names of some of the amateurs.

By Tuesday, only four players remained, and the vast majority of the 119 who’d played in the tournament proper were back at work. Only a small cohort are close to being full-time golfers, and the select few who have designs on making a living from the professional game number less still. But they’d travelled to Sligo at their own expense, were spending the Easter weekend away from their friends and families, all for the competition and the love of the game.

And if that’s not a breath of fresh air, I don’t know what is.

So if you like your golf and there is an elite amateur event happening near you, you’d do a lot worse than spending a few hours watching. It might make you a little depressed at the state of your own game after the fact, but it’s time well spent.

Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!

More News

One response to “Why elite amateur golf is soup for the soul”

  1. Mark Coates avatar
    Mark Coates


Leave a comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy & Terms of Service apply.