Thursday 14 December 2017

Coffey excelling in a life less ordinary

Kelan McDonagh of Athlone on his way to winning the Grant Thornton Scratch Cup at Mullingar Golf Club last Sunday. Photo: Pat Cashman
Kelan McDonagh of Athlone on his way to winning the Grant Thornton Scratch Cup at Mullingar Golf Club last Sunday. Photo: Pat Cashman
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

HOW low can you go in terms of your golf handicap? That was the challenge set by GUI National Academy Manager Alan Kelly to Kildare journalist Brendan Coffey.

Coffey (26) was intrigued. An occasional golfer whose main interest is GAA with the Maynooth club, he didn't even have an official handicap.

That suited Kelly. The GUI Academy at Carton House is open to all comers, and he wanted to see how could an 'ordinary' guy with a real-life job and a social life get on if given a licence to swing.

The deal was that Coffey could avail of the facilities at the academy, have lessons from pro David Mortimer, and get a fitness programme from Titelist Performance Institute-approved coach Tony O'Regan, of the Carton House Resort Fitness Centre.

All they wanted was that Coffey commit to giving it a real go for 12 months and see how low he could get his handicap.

Once the Kildare man said yes, the first task was to play three rounds at Carton House to get his official handicap.

He didn't do too badly, earning a starting 16.5 for a playing handicap of 17 in early June, but, due to work and GAA commitments, only got to play his first official competition at the end of June.

Result? The handicap went up to 16.7. After that he has done very well to lose 4.4 for a 12.3 handicap to date.

Last week, Brendan got a big thrill when he found his name among the weekly achievers in category three of our Most Improved Golfer competition in association with the GUI. That came as a result of scoring 43 points off 14 in the Volvo Amateur Masters competition, which is running through the summer, for a loss of 1.8.

On Saturday last, Coffey went out in round one of the captain's (Tom McAndrew) prize at Carton House and had a nett 73 off 12.


"I'd love to get into the top 10 for the year to date in the Most Improved Golfer competition, but I would have had to shoot the lights out last Saturday," he said.

The main factor with all this is that Coffey doesn't live in a world where he has nothing to do but focus on his golf game, although he does admit that he's very enthusiastic about it all.

"I've had four lessons so far from David Mortimer and a putting clinic with him. I do my stretches for 10 minutes in the morning and go to the gym to follow my programme a couple of times a week.

"I also go to the academy to hit balls and to the short-game area, but I don't have a rigid schedule. It depends how it all goes from week to week," he said.

He also tries to play regularly in competitions, but his own GAA matches and Kildare's championship run, meant some disruption in the last eight weeks.

Coffey has also faced joy and disaster in one day when he shot 67 nett off the back tees in the August Medal at the O'Meara Course, but was disqualified.

His 67 was the best score of the day, but an innocent error in dropping from a hazard on the par-three 16th was, on subsequent examination, found to be the wrong option under the rules. A hard lesson indeed in your first strokes competition, but Coffey was still cut a couple of shots that helped towards his overall goal.

Coffey writes a regular blog of his progress at

Incidentally, our Most Improved Golfer competition is almost at an end.

Any scores from yesterday that are uploaded to GOLFNET by 4.0 today can count towards the top 10 in each category to establish who will go forward to the national final at Carton House on October 7.

Next week we will announce the 40 golfers who qualify for that event.

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