Jim O'Brien: 'Why are we being asked to foot the €50m bill for a glorified four-day golfing blowout?'

Adare Manor which is to host the 2026 Ryder Cup
Adare Manor which is to host the 2026 Ryder Cup
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

I don't know much about golf. I have made a number of inelegant attempts to play the game, leaving green and fairway pulverised as I tried to get the ball from tee to hole as expeditiously as possible. These awkward efforts confirmed a lurking hunch that golf and I do not work well together.

Listening to sports commentators talk golf on the radio as they sum up the state of play at some open or other, they might as well be talking about the convoluted mating habits of a rare species of gnat for all I can understand.

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I possibly could make some sense out of it if I could find the time to study the lingo but for now, I have more important things to do.

Until I get around to studying 'golfese' the 'bogeying of a par four on the back nine' will sound like an affliction requiring surgical intervention.

But, one couldn't be in a better place that on a golf course should such a calamity befall one.

There would surely be an embarrassment of plaid-clad surgeons in the immediate vicinity ready to extricate the offending bogey from the afflicted back nine, not to mention a posse of club wielding legal eagles more than willing to assist in suing should ~ the bogey become shunted to your front nine, thereby endangering any further contributions you may wish to make to the golfing gene-pool.

While I'm at it, I must admit to having difficulty with people being dubbed 'golfing heroes'.

I'm not inclined to search for heroes among people who get paid obscene amounts of money to put small balls into round holes on manicured landscapes that look like they were designed by Disney to evoke the Garden of Eden.

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These 'heroes' are spirited from one such idyll to another by private jet and whisked from airport to clubhouse in darkened limousines while their every quirk is pandered to.

I believe that one of these legends attending the recent British Open in Portrush had a house refurnished to the tune of £30,000 but left without enjoying the fruits of his purchases, having failed to get through the early rounds.

Some of my closest friends and my dearest family members are avid golfers and would walk through acres of pristine lawns to see Tiger, Bubba or Brook (real people, not Disney characters) add to their millions.

More luck to them all. As my late father would say, I hope it holds fine for them.

However, when the golfing elite and their fellow travellers come looking to the public purse to fund the global extravaganza known as the Ryder Cup that is when they burst my Bubba.

Every day our politicians have to make hard choices and decisions. This is a small country with a limited cohort of taxpayers and scarce resources.

We have massive debt, thanks to rich people using the country as a Celtic Las Vegas between 1996 and 2008.

We have homeless families living like prisoners in cramped hotel rooms with no say over what time they go to bed, what time they get up and what they eat.

We have families living on the streets under cardboard.

We have children with a range of intellectual and physical disabilities deprived of the most basic of services and yet we have politicians making decisions that will see us throwing a reported €50m, for starters, at a sporting event that will be largely the preserve of the most affluent and connected people in the country.

What is happening is scandalous in the extreme.

If the privileged classes want to use the facilities of the super-rich in this country to pit some of the wealthiest sportsmen in America against some of the wealthiest sportsmen in Europe, then they have enough money themselves to make it happen. They don't need mine.

We are told that spending State money on the Ryder Cup will be a win-win for everyone, the money will trickle down to all and sundry in the shape of improved infrastructure, a tourism bonanza and the national feel-good factor.

The country's global profile will be greatly enhanced.


If we throw the State's money at this event, what will trickle down will be some of our own money.

Rising tide

And even that will end up in the pockets of people who are already doing well, the kind of people who will be in raised seats on the 18th green when the last ball finds the last hole.

Given our recent history, we should be wise to the lies of trickle-down economics and the flawed philosophy of the rising tide.

After the loss of the €64bn squandered by the rich and powerful in the early 2000s we should know that you have to put a flood of coin into the coffers of the rich before any will trickle down.

Since the time of Seán Lemass we know that while a rising tide gives the big ships access to the ocean - it often dislodges smaller craft from their moorings and swamps them.

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