News of David Keating’s shock departure from Killarney Golf & Fishing Club this week had an impact on me. Can’t quite put my finger on why, was it the social media outpouring and fact he is one of golf’s good guys?
I don’t know David well; we’re at opposite ends of the country. I haven’t spoken to him in years; last time was when working with The Irish Times and Custom Fit was barely part of golfing lexicon.
All those years ago but I still remember how accommodating he was with his time for a piece I was writing. I recall speaking to a true gent.
I know nothing of the ins and outs of what happened at Killarney, but it got me thinking about PGA pros and what they do for us.
For starters, they don’t have to do anything for us, but be assured it’s a gaping void on the golfing landscape without your PGA pro.
They listen to plenty of guff in their time, but the good ones turn that into banter and have some fun with it. More than that, they are advisors, mentors, coaches and figureheads. And they have businesses to run.
It’s only when I took time to think about it I realised that PGA professionals are integral parts of my golf and working existence.
Take this year alone. Royal County Down head professional Kevan Whitson has been knocking some sense into my erratic golf game. At the turn of the year – and after another wasteful round tipped me up to three – I endeavoured to do something about it. I made the bold move of saying I want to get to scratch by the end of the year and I need help to do it.
Just shy of November we got to 0.8, better discipline would have got it done by now but progress nonetheless.
Along the way, GUI National Coach Neil Manchip read one of my laments on these pages earlier this year and reached out. Over the phone he simplified the process and mental mind games we play with ourselves on the golf course. His advice helped immensely.
Ross Oliver, Director of Golf at Galgorm Castle, is one of my go-to guys every year the NI Open comes around and when media and PR deadlines are in full flight. He has the knowledge and makes life easy when working with the tournament host venue.
Closer to home, Kevan’s assistants like John and Daniel or his son Reeve, are always helpful every time we step into the pro shop. It could be sorting out rounds and green fees or helping with new clubs and equipment; it’s a professional service carried out with manners. The banter is never far away either.
Simon Thornton is another Newcastle native and near neighbour. At times we get to chew the fat about all things golf or Manchester United, sometimes in the aisles of Tesco. A few of us will get game time with the new Irish PGA champion this winter. We’ll throw our chips in and take our chances. Whatever the outcome, one thing is for certain, us amateurs will all learn from time spent with one of Ireland’s fiercest golfing competitors.
So, what are we saying?
The point I make is we don’t meet these people all the time. We can go weeks and months without crossing paths with PGA pros. However, in a golfing capacity they are beacons, reassuringly there to advise, to help and listen – even to the most mundane of golfing debriefs.
Within the last year, I’ve been helped and advised by at least six professionals. We’ll all have similar stories across the country and at our golf clubs.
Our PGA professionals would be sorely missed if we didn’t have them around. I fear that will be the case with David Keating’s departure at Killarney.