The K Club’s Liam Grehan won five times on the Irish PGA region last year taking his winning tally to nine in two seasons.
Having established himself as an exciting young talent on the circuit coupled with a series of impressive performances on the Clutch Pro Tour, Grehan has some lofty ambitions for the 2023 season.
The Mullingar native has dreams of playing in a home Irish Open at the K Club and making the grade on the Challenge and DP World Tours, but his hopes revolve around April’s PGA Playoffs in Aphrodite, Cyprus.
“The Playoffs is my big one, my goal is to play in the Irish Open and to do it through that. I am working hard on that at the moment,” Grehan explains.
“The buzz around it would be class. Being a home player, it would be unbelievable, I get on well with the members and they are so supportive, some of them have sponsored me this year. The excitement around the Irish Open would be unreal and an experience I couldn’t even dream of.
“The Playoffs is the avenue and I don’t know my schedule yet whether I play Clutch or get starts on Challenge and European Tours. There are lots of possibilities and work will be flexible so I have the opportunity to play more and get to rest to avoid burning out.”
A host of leading PGA professionals from Ireland and the UK will be vying for the same goal as Grehan from April 19-21 but he will touch down at Aphrodite Hills Golf Club buoyed by the belief that he can compete with some of the established names after finishing runner-up in the Order of Merit last year and winning the PGA Club Pro Championship in Millicent, shooting a course record.
“Second in the Order of Merit was lovely, finished sixth the year before and didn’t know if I could improve. Happily, I got better, played in England on the Clutch Tour and got a bit of experience.
Playing professionally is so different to playing in the amateur championships, different styles of golf course and conditions and you are playing for your living so there is a lot of pressure. I definitely got better competing with the likes of Richard [Kilpatrick], Tim [Rice], Simon [Thornton], David [Higgins], Damien [McGrane]. They are seasoned competitors who won’t let much slip so you have to be on your game.
“To win a pro-am you have to go low, luckily I managed to do that a few times last year, the highlight being Millicent at the Club Pro Championship.
“Even Damien McGrane was playing in that one so it was nice to know that on my day I can compete with the likes of him and the others.”
Grehan is in his third and final year of his PGA course and he balances that with his assistant professional role in the K Club as well as competing on the Clutch Pro Tour.
“The Clutch was a great experience balancing the work and travel. I would book off three days for a two-day tournament, fly in play the practice round and play the tournament, fly home that night and back to work the next day.
“I learned a lot in organising travel and preparing for events on a tight schedule. I found when I had something to look forward to it was easier to practice and stay longer after work. That extra motivation and good results on the PGA helped that too.
“I had one unfortunate incident I signed for a wrong score on the Clutch Tour so that was an expensive lesson. It’s about putting yourself in the scenario and gradually progressing towards the likes of the Challenge and European Tour.”
Believe it or not, had things gone differently for Grehan he might have been shredding the guitar on stage rather than ripping drivers. He even has his own YouTube channel where he plays covers of songs including a fabulous rendition of Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits on the ukulele.
“I started golf when I was like 9 or 10, I was a bit of a rocker first. Both my parents played golf and then my cousin Sean got really good and is now the pro in Mount Wolseley. I saw a trajectory of what you could do and got into it by playing against him and got into Leinster panels and stuff with Rob Brazill, Eoin O’Hare etc.
“From there on to Maynooth on the Paddy Harrington Scholarship, learned loads there. I’d say I didn’t kick on until after I finished but it was class playing with elite players like Gary Hurley and Stuart Grehan.
“I studied music technology and business. My plan was to work in music, then when I graduated I moved to LA to work in a recording studio and absolutely despised it! Ended up in Urban Golf Performance over there.
“Over the lockdown especially I went back and played the guitar and learned a few new tunes and got better at it before golf came back.
“I listened to a lot of Metallica and Muse growing up but I’ve mellowed out a little bit.”
The 27-year-old came to the K Club in 2019 to work in golf operations before surprisingly being offered an assistant pro role a year later and now he is looking forward to having an involvement in the upcoming Irish Open in September whether it be as a player or as part of the team that week.
“I worked in golf operations and pro shops. I started here as a caddie when I moved back then when Covid hit I had to start from fresh. I was still an amateur in 2020 and wasn’t going to turn pro and then I was offered the position of assistant pro when Conor Russell started here.
“I could have been chasing amateur championships but it’s a tough balance with working but being in the PGA offers up other opportunities.
“We will be involved in the Irish Open when it comes round. I’m hopefully not working that week! With some of the operations, the range, getting people to the right place we’ll probably be managing the volunteers so that’s what the week looks like at the moment.”
Grehan quickly developed a knack for winning which put his plans to coach on the back burner. A deeply philosophical student of the game, he has no swing coach and has pretty much taught himself how to play golf – and very well.
“I don’t have a swing coach. I worked off a book by Bradley Hughes and got that to a certain extent where I don’t focus on swing thoughts. I’m working with a coach in Scotland on motor neurone stuff called Peter Harnett who wrote a book, ‘Swing Like Tiger’ who wants you to have the right attitude and bring a swing change onto the golf course, so I got into that.
“I think a lot about golf. Gary Shaw lives with me in Maynooth and I never shut up about golf sitting at the kitchen table. I get deep into performance and how to go about something right, rather than technique. You need to remember you’re playing the game, train properly to perform in that scenario it’s not about a quick fix, it’s long term so I feel since turning pro I’ve got gradually better,” Grehan smiles as he looks forward to another successful season.
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