It has been claimed that low scoring in golf requires a player with a vivid imagination. If so, Tom Egan of Monkstown GC could be considered quite a visionary.
The one-time holder of a world-record scoring sequence died at St Luke's home in Blackrock, Cork, on April 17, four months short of his 90th birthday.
He had brought much-valued distinction to the Monkstown club, where he was a life-long member.
Egan had been 10 years an international when he faced the East of Ireland Championship at Baltray in 1962. By his own admission, his main objective in being there was to do sufficiently well to retain his Ireland status. As it happened, he left the selectors with no option but to accede to this wish.
Not only did he capture the title; he caused a sensation in the third round by carding eight successive birdies from the second hole, in an outward nine of 30. And he then held his nerve for a homeward 37 to equal the course record of 67 - eight under par at that time.
More importantly, his scoring sequence set a new, international benchmark for amateurs and professionals which stood for 47 years. Though equalled on several occasions, his eight-in-a-row wasn't beaten until July 2009, when American professional Mark Calcavecchia carded nine successive birdies in the second round of the Canadian Open.
Significantly, Egan's feat was achieved on fiery terrain where the ball had to be worked skilfully to a halt. "It was a great thrill to do the eight birdies, especially on a course like Baltray," he later remarked.
Not surprisingly, he treasured a presentation of Waterford crystal which commemorated the achievement when the Irish Open was staged at Baltray in 2004. That was when, as a special guest, he played in the pre-championship pro-am with Padraig Harrington.
Born on August 18, 1930, he grew up in Monkstown, close to Cork city, where his home was situated near the old fourth green of the golf club.
His father, from whom he inherited his first name, had also been a keen golfer playing off three-handicap, before his premature death. Young Tom was only eight at the time and to keep him amused, his mother, Anne, gave him a four iron and a putter, which he employed to splendid effect.
As a 17-year-old, he won the President's Prize at Monkstown playing off 12-handicap, and three years later, was down to scratch. Incidentally, the watch he won that day is now the property of his son, Frank, who wears it on special occasions.
From there, success came rapidly. Having been runner-up in the South of Ireland Championship of 1951, Tom went on to capture the Irish Close title at Royal Belfast the following year, beating a formidable opponent in Tramore's JC Browne on the fifth tie-hole of a scheduled 36-hole final.
Given that Monkstown didn't have a team at the time, he had gone north to represent Cork GC in the Irish Senior Cup, where they lost in the decider to Malone.
Egan's consistency was admirable, during what has to be viewed as a purple period for the amateur game in this country. An example was the occasion he described as his most nervous on a golf course.
This was in 1953 when he was invited to play in an exhibition match involving fellow Cork international, George Crosbie, and the great Jimmy Bruen, who was accompanied by three-time British Open champion, Henry Cotton.
Between 1952 and 1969, Tom Egan played 54 matches for Ireland and emerged with the very creditable record of 26 wins and two halves. Along the way, he developed a strong friendship with Christy O'Connor Snr and it became a ritual for the Royal Dublin maestro to telephone Tom on his birthday each year, when they would reminisce about fun on the fairways.
Meanwhile, his devotion to Monkstown remained absolute. Nothing pleased him more than regular games with fellow members early on a Wednesday morning. And it became an established custom at the club for him to strike the first ball for a Captain's Prize and President's Prize.
In the process, he was admired as a modest man whose objective was simply to play well: winning was not his motivation.
In fact he claimed to have been at his happiest when delivering shots to the best of his ability.
He is survived by his wife, Angela, and their nine children. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.