MY passion for golf did not develop in quite the same way as the 21-years old, Castletroy member, Chloe Ryan’s did but I can empathize with her burning desire to gain the upper hand in a sporting sense on a younger, equally competitive, sibling.
Chloe only took up golf because her younger by three years sister, Eimear, displaced her on their school’s senior cup hockey team.
“I could not bear the humiliation of Eimear taking my place and then to make matters worse she was selected for Munster and I wasn’t!
“I immediately abandoned hockey and instead accompanied my Dad (Ger) to Ballykisteen the very next day where I met Arthur Pierse, the former Walker Cup player from Tipperary Golf Club.
“Arthur was at the Driving Range coaching a group of juniors but when he spotted me taking wild, swipes at the ball. He came over, introduced himself and said that I was very strong and had very fast hands.”
“You’ll be very good at golf in no time if you learn the basics!,” he said.
“That was precisely the kind of encouragement I needed and in no time at all I was addicted.
“I loved winning at golf especially if there was a nice prize involved and it wasn’t long before I began reducing my handicap under the tutelage of Arthur, who is still my principal golf coach today.
“Of course, as my handicap came down winning became more difficult and now it is a very rare event because I play the vast majority of my golf overseas against the best women players in the world.
Meanwhile, Eimear has stuck with the hockey and was on the Irish Under-16s Squad.”
Chloe’s perfectionist nature is reflected in her huge workload. Her schedule for the season ahead would make you want to lie down just thinking about it.
April - French u21 amateur (Saint Cloud) 2nd-6th
Scottish ladies amateur open (Royal Troon) 24th-26th
May - Irish Ladies open (Dun Laoghaire) 23rd-24rd
St Rule Trophy St. Andrew’s Scotland) 30th-31st
June -British Women’s amateur open (Portstewart) 9th-13th
Irish Ladies close (Rosapenna) 20th-23rd
July - European Team Championships (Denmark) 7th-11th
European Individual (Austria) 22nd-25th
August - English Women’s Open 4th-6th
British Open Strokeplay 19th-21st
Ulster Women’s Open (Lisburn) 26th-28th
September - Ladies Home Internationals (Royal Wimbledon) 9th-11th
While busy with her Law Degree Studies at UCD, Chloe has managed to play golf in 16-different countries. This summer, on completion of her third year at University she is planning to take a year off to concentrate solely on golf with a view to playing her way onto the Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team that will play the USA at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in County Dublin in June 2016. It’s ironic that Chloe’s favourite place to play golf is the USA but if she makes the team the matches will be held in Ireland.
To win her place, Chloe will have to pass a lot of players that are ahead of her in the World Amateur Rankings - something that doesn’t faze her one little bit. At the moment, Chloe lies 464th in the World with 29 GB&I golfers above her including six from Ireland. That’s the bad news. The good news is that one big win can change that situation rapidly; not a lot separates the contenders once you go below the top two or three.
Now for a few reluctantly revealed personal anecdotes: Chloe’s favourite course is Royal County Down. The best golfer she has ever played with is Arthur Pierse, which may sound ‘diplomatic’ but everyone in golf acknowledges that Arthur was one of Ireland’s best amateur golfers in the past 40-years.
Her favourite golfer is Rory McIlroy, whom she has met. “He’s quite small but very pleasant,” she says.
Her all-time, sporting hero is Paul O’Connell and she is a fanatical follower of the Munster rugby team but I wonder what Paul would think of the little ‘punishments’ that take place when Chloe represents her province? If Chloe loses a match she has to wear a Connacht, Leinster or Ulster rugby jersey to dinner that evening.
“Wearing the Ulster uniform is bad enough but wearing that blue Leinster outfit gives me the creeps,” she says with a big smile.
“It’s a big motivator to have the chance to see one of the other girls wearing my beloved, red of Munster,” she says. Representative golf may be hard work and serious at times but it is good to see the girls having playful fun behind the scenes.
Eventually, the long-hitting, Chloe hopes to be good enough to turn professional and join Stephanie Meadow in the USA but she acknowledges she must become a lot better before even thinking of attempting that big move.
Words of the Wise
In a recent survey of 24 PGA Tour players, 18 said they didn’t think about anything at all during their swing. Those that did have swing thoughts said it was either: to focus on a spot a few inches in front of the ball to encourage swinging through, or a thought to keep tempo slow. NONE of them said they had ANY technical thoughts about their swing.