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2005-06-14 Golfer to play 32 counties in 32 days

The Oxford English Dictionary defines `Golf' as `a game played on an outdoor course, the aim of which is to strike a small ball with a club, into a series of small holes'.

 

Now let me get one thing clear at the outset, this is not me having a go at golf and golfers - I don't know enough about it to do that - but there is surely no denying that it is a funny old game. You hit a ball, hope for the best, walk after it to find it, hoping your ball has not found an obstacle such as sand, water, trees, or rough terrain.

 

Apart from snooker, golf seems to be the only sport that involves striking a still ball. Soccer and tennis are all about controlling the ball in order to achieve a winning shot, in rugby and gaelic a player carries and kicks the ball, but in golf - well, you only have yourself to blame.

 

I do not agree with Mark Twain however, who declared golf to be `a waste of a good walk', as more often than not golf courses are set in spectacularly scenic locations - look at our own three links courses.

 

Strandhill lies between Knocknarea and Ballisodare Bay, Enniscrone looks out on Killala Bay, and Rosses Point is one of Ireland's oldest and greatest championship links courses, set in a breathtaking Yeatsian location. Most links courses seem to be in and around six kilometres in length, and so golf definitely counts as gentle cardiovascular exercise.

 

Apart from the Ryder Cup, and `two-ball foursomes', golf is usually a non team-player sport, a relatively solitary existence. A golf professional is an individual , and not usually part of a team.

 

Perhaps this loneliness, training and travelling alone, might explain why some high-ranking `golf-pros' seem to have had a personality by-pass? Even the Ryder Cup is a team, and yet, it's not a team. If one player is having an off-day, that player can surely scupper the team efforts.

 

As with singing, I am sure nerves under such extreme pressure must play havoc. Taking a tee-shot in front of a large crowd, or performing the final vital putt on the 18th green to a packed stand must mean that a championship golfer ought to have a very secure `inner game'. After all, what is it they say - "Drive for show : Putt for dough." With sports such as soccer, athletics and boxing (is boxing really a sport?), it is easy to view progress, but golf is less straight-forward, and thus golf to me seems much more passively competitive. And yet, golf is a strangely watchable TV sport, producing such giant household names as Tiger, Seve, Jack, Greg, Bernhard and our own Padraig.

 

Peter Grogan is Captain of the Christy O'Connor Golf Club, and very soon may be at the very least a `Clubhousehold name'. Peter Grogan is playing on 32 Irish golf courses, in 32 counties, in 32 days. His golf-tour of Ireland with the generous support of Ford Ireland is in order to help those in "Tigh an Oilean" on Valentia Island, and to raise awareness of similar centres elsewhere. "Tigh an Oilean" supplies day residential care and support services for adults with learning disabilities. In these centres, `the person' is recognised, and not the `disability', and that person becomes a happy part of their community. Parents of children with disabilities need not worry what happens their children further down the line, thanks to such centres.

 

Starting on June 21, Peter will tour from the K-Club to Portrush to Kinsale to Dromoland, and on Monday July 11 aroundabout midday he will play a round at Enniscrone (sorry couldn't resist a cheap gag). If you want to support Peter's excellent cause, you can email him direct on peter.grogan@gmail.com or call him on 087 9521440.

 

There are still many things I just don't understand about golf - the kaleidoscopic `Plus-4-style-paraphernalia' and strict dress-code associated with the sport, the strange vocabulary incorporating birdies, eagles, albatroses, bogies, triple-bogies, and `handicap', the slightly sexist Ladies' Tee, the almost colonial use of a caddy (surely not far away from a `gillie'?), the expensive equipment and exorbitant Club-membership fees making it all a little elitist, and the at times astronomical prize- money involved.

 

All the more reason however to support Peter's worthy cause.