Ivan Morris Column - A golf dog’s life

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris writes about a new golf book that would make for a lovely Christmas present.

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris writes about a new golf book that would make for a lovely Christmas present.

George Anthony Finn grew up in Mallow but spent his childhood summer holidays at Lahinch where (just like what happened to me) his golf-besotted mother introduced him to the mysteries of the game; infecting him with a bug that has both enhanced and plagued his life in equal measure ever since.

This witty Mallow man makes no bones about it that his latest book “A Golfing Dog’s Life” was inspired by the irrepressible Peter Mayle’s delightful tale, “A Dog’s Life.”

Clearly besotted by his own dog, Gussie, whom he has trained to keep his entire family well supplied in golf balls, Finn writes about golf from Gussie’s point of view.

I can tell you that it’s a funny old world when you look at it from a four-legged one’s point of view.

In 1999, Tony published “Through the Green Lightly” which is a series of delightful yarns based on imaginary characters and incidents in and around Lahinch.

Tony’s light style has been compared to the work of the master, P.G. Wodehouse, by the Irish Times critic, Gary Moran, which is high praise, indeed.

Lahinch is the perfect location and backdrop for Tony’s often moralistic and amusing yarns. He knows the place inside out. What goes on behind the scenes in those glorious, late summer Open Weeks and the atmosphere of the “old” South of Ireland, only a shaggy dog could retell.

Gussie remembers when as many as 300+ competitors would be allowed to take part in the South draw. There was no handicap limit and locals and holidaymakers were all involved. If you paid the entrance fee, you could play. Back then golf wasn’t as serious or as business-like as it is these days.

Having often enjoyed Finn’s quirky and whimsical humour it’s no surprise that Gussie’s observations are exactly as I would have expected. Says Finn, “I actually know very few Lahinch natives, most of the people with whom I played were visitors on holidays.

Any comparisons with real people are accidental but that does not take from the fun because their crazy antics are human and believable.

“Everything I write about is based on my own experiences but I am not writing about any specific, “real” persons or incidents but rather an amalgam of them.

“As my characters and events emerge I endeavour to develop them along logical but amusing lines. My ideas could be a spark of inspiration out of nowhere. If you keep an open mind anything can happen and it usually does!”

Golf’s Silly Season Hits the Road –

If we ever needed proof that there is too much pro golf on TV, we saw it in Turkey recently. When the over saturated, easy-money aspect of the professional golfer took a serious turn for the worse.

Some publicity guru decided that it would be a good idea if Tiger Woods hit a golf ball from Europe into Asia in one fell swoop, across a bridge spanning the Bosphorus. The fact that the bridge was teeming with rush hour traffic didn’t deter this ridiculous prank.

Hundreds of Turks did not have a clue what was going on and that they were in imminent danger of getting hurt. Why should Tiger care?

He was being paid something in the region of $2-million, just for being there?

Second bit of madness - To dress Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy up as samurai warriors for a photo shoot in China prior to the WGC-HSBC World Championship in China (try saying that quickly!) was tame by comparison but equally silly. It would all make Tony Finn’s dog, Gussie, laugh that’s for sure.

Third madness - Vijay Singh’s attorney saying that he has evidence that the PGA Tour has been exempting ‘certain’ players from drug testing and has chosen not to punish others for positive test results. Is anyone surprised?

Fourth Madness - Golf’s ‘silly season’ appears to be going from bad to worse. Even some of the pros recognize it.

Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel both went on strike and angrily sat out the Tour’s finale in Dubai, despite €10-million being up for grabs because they are unable to stomach the European Tour’s new membership regulations.

Fifth Madness - We’ve heard about Rory McIlroy’s lawsuit, in which he claims he was taken advantage of by his management team and yet he has the gall to use them as his ‘best defense’ in a separate case where Oakley are suing Rory for breaking his contract with them.

Sixth Madness – Video footage of former Irish Open winner and six-time European Tour-winner, Simon Dyson, illegally ‘killing’ a spike mark on his line after marking his ball. All of this, while the world’s top players rush hither and tither, picking up obscene payments and appearance fees at ‘non-events.’