Sunday 22 September 2019

I prefer a putter when the chips are down...

Handicap: 4. Club: County Louth

Family matter: Barry Reddan has golf in the genes
Family matter: Barry Reddan has golf in the genes

Barry Reddan has golf in his genes. The son of the great amateur Clarrie Reddan, he enjoyed many fine days for club and country but treasures the friendships he made even more dearly than the victories he achieved.

1 How's your golf?

I had a muscle injury from wear and tear, which stopped me practising (which I love). But I practised today and played golf, so it's not too bad. My present coach is Mick McGuirk's son, Paddy. So I am still very keen. I still think I am going to find the secret.

2 You won the East, West and South of Ireland titles, played for Ireland and won umpteen trophies. Do you have any golfing ambitions left?

My only ambition now is to remain competitive and healthy. I want to play a few seniors events next season, and if I am healthy and ready to do that, I will be a happy man.

3 How did you get started in the game? Your mother, Clarrie Reddan, was one of Ireland's great amateurs so presumably, she was a great influence.

I was born in Baltray about 300 yards from the golf club, but while I played when I was young, I went to work in Dublin when I was 18, and I was late to competitive golf. I didn't take it seriously until I was in my mid-20s and started doing well for the club in the Senior Cup. That's when I felt I might not be too far behind some of the top players. Mick McGuirk, Paddy's father, was a great early influence and teacher. My mother never taught me, though I played with her often.

4 Choose your weapon. Driver or putter?

I was always a good putter, and you can't understate the importance of straight driving. Those were the two strengths of my game, so it's hard to choose. My chipping was only five out of 10, so perhaps I should have listened more to my mother about playing around the greens!

5 You won three championships and went on to play for Ireland in the Home Internationals and as a senior. What inspired you?

Guys like Mark Gannon and Declan Branigan were always a notch above me, and while you wouldn't beat them very often, they made you improve. Winning the South of Ireland final on the 20th against Mark in 1987 was the one that got me on the Irish team. And winning the East was very special. But pulling on that Irish jersey was such a proud moment. To win the South and then play in the team that won the Triple Crown for the first time in Lahinch in 1987 was a big thrill.

6 Links or parkland?

Links all day long. It's the scenery, the variety of shots and the visualisation that's required to judge to the wind - a wedge one day, a four-iron the next. It's magic.

7 The list of great characters you've met is a long one, but I'm sure there are many you especially cherish.

That's true. We all miss JD Murphy so much, father of Gary. He was a special guy. He loved the championships and the fun we had. I dearly love Baltray, Lahinch and Rosses Point and have great memories of them all. My great friend Joe McAleese is so good to me down in Lahinch, and then there is the Flanagan family in Rosses Point and Tom Gavin, whom I stayed with there for many years. Special people. You meet some great people throughout your golfing life.

8 When were you happiest on the golf course?

It's between winning the East and winning my first cap at Lahinch in 1987. Darren Clarke was on that team. He was only 17 at the time. Ireland had won championships, but that was the first Triple Crown. It was front-page news.

9 Who's your sporting hero?

Arnold Palmer. He played an exhibition in Baltray with Des Smyth, Christy O'Connor Snr and Lee Trevino in 1987 and he was everything I thought he would be. He was bigger than golf, an American icon, full of charisma.

10 Name an opponent or rival you especially admired and why.

Declan Branigan, Mark Gannon and Arthur Pierse were brilliant golfers, but the best of the lot was Garth McGimpsey. He set the standard. He was the man. He left nothing to chance.

11 Name your dream fourball. And name the venue.

I'd love to play with Arnold Palmer against my mother and Philomena Garvey at the new Adare Manor, which I hear is a fantastic golfing experience. My mother, Phil and Arnie were from the same era, and it would be fascinating to listen to them. I have a picture with Arnie at Baltray that is one of my most treasured possessions. He had great banter with my mother in the bar. They were two of a kind!

12 If you could change something about the modern game, what would it be?

When it comes to the amateur game, knowledge of etiquette and the Rules of Golf are two areas that need to be addressed. New golfers pay their money and join clubs, and it's expected they know the rules and etiquette, but they don't. We can talk about slow play and the distance debate, but we are own referees, and if we don't care about rules and etiquette, we are on a slippery slope.

13 If I gave you a mulligan in your golfing career, what would it be?

There is no point in looking back. If I have a regret, it's that I never learned to play the guitar. We had such fun singing after the golf at the West and the South. I remember I wanted a guitar when I was 12, and my mother wouldn't buy it for me! (Laughs).

14 If you had just one more round to play, where would it be?

Baltray every time.

15 What's your favourite par three?

We have some great par threes in County Louth, but the seventh in Baltray is as good a par-three as there is. A fantastic hole.

16 If you could change one thing about your golf, what would it be?

My chipping was never great, and I might have been more dedicated to the game earlier in life, but maybe then I would not have had so much fun with all my pals. I treasure those memories dearly.

17 Your longevity helped you stick around long enough to reach the semis in the South in 2002 and face Rory McIlroy in his first "West" in 2005. Do you remember playing him?

I remember it well. He beat me in the first round when he was the youngest in the field, at 15, and I was the oldest at 59. He was fantastic and went on to win his first title. You could see he was a special talent.

18 What's your idea of perfect happiness?

A nice fourball on a summer's day in Baltray with my wife Valerie and our children Paul and Nicola followed by a nice bottle of Rioja afterwards. You can't beat it.

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