Limerick Golf - The Ivan Morris Column

Limerick Leader Golf columnist Ivan Morris writes about JJ Hurley, the eccentric Limerick-born golfer.

Limerick Leader Golf columnist Ivan Morris writes about JJ Hurley, the eccentric Limerick-born golfer.

A conversation with former, Limerick GC President and golfing aficiando, Dr. John Leahy, has informed me about an ‘elusive,’ Rathbane-born golfer, named J.J. Hurley, who was by all accounts, a brilliant, if eccentric exponent. As a member of the iconic Machrihanish Golf Club, Hurley played most of his golf in Scotland where he worked as an inland revenue official for HM Government.

Hurley grew up in Roxborough House which adjoins today’s Rathbane golf course grounds. It is unlikely that he ever hit a ball on the lands there but I would not be surprised if his ghost now casts a kindly eye. Hurley would not have played at nearby Ballyclough either because Limerick GC did not move to its current location until 1919.

To paraphrase ‘Centennial Memories’ – the story of the South of Ireland Championship by Arthur J. Quinlan, published in 2001, “1907 was a vintage year, not only was John Ball the reigning British Amateur champion in the field, but also James Robb, Amateur champion in the previous year. A Scotland-based, Limerick man, JJ Hurley eclipsed them all. Hurley had only taken up golf 5-years earlier while he was stationed at St. Andrew’s with the Inland Revenue Department. Over the course of the next 3-years his handicap came down from 25 to +4.”

On the 1907 final, one observer said: “Hurley has the most extraordinary style of putting ever seen on a golf course. He studies the line of the putt lying prone on the green and he manages to run them down in marvelous fashion.’ His driving and approach play were the outstanding features of his game. Hurley also won the Matterson’s Cup at Lahinch that year and was selected on the Irish team for matches against England and Scotland.

Mobile phones on the course

IT’S hard not to agree with a recent Time Magazine editorial, which stated that the (smart) mobile phone has become a kind of super-extension of ourselves - faster, brainier, more reliable and always on. But, when those darn phones are being overused and abused on the golf course? - aaaaaaaargh!!!!

But would not the implementation of a blanket ban on mobile phones on golf courses be self-defeating and impractical? ‘Mobiles’ have become such an ingrained part of modern living for the younger generation and who knows when there isn’t an emergency at home or in the office?

Banning mobile phones could end up damaging golf in a more serious way than the mild disruption suffered by one’s companion golfers. Being separated from one’s phone could be a factor in some people giving up the game, which seems a rather drastic over-reaction when you consider that we all switch off our phones in Church and on airplanes without a murmur. As long as a golfing companion answers his phone discreetly and is quick, I’m prepared to put up with it!

UL research in disabled golf

I AM totally against golf in The Olympic Games but that does not mean that I feel the same about golf becoming a recognized Paralympics sport.

Research is underway at UL with the aim of finding similarities, and differences, in the biomechanics and visual skills between able-bodied and disabled golfers. Unlike other Paralympics sports, in which athletes take part in various categories based on their specific disabilities, people with all types of disabilities can play golf on equal terms with golfers that have no definable disabilities at all based on the handicapping system that is unique to golf. The fact that people have a disability – be it deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy or an amputation – is not a consideration in classifying them for a golf competition. Their ability to play golf is solely categorized by the normal handicap system for all golfers. One test being undertaken at UL is investigating if it would be ‘fairer’ to have the existing handicapping system modified when it applies to golfers with disabilities?

According to Dr. Ian Kenny of UL’s Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, golf as an Olympic sport in 2016 increases the chances for it to be included in the 2020 Paralympics. Once the research is published, recommendations will be sent to the international governing bodies of golf.

Words of the Wise

I have read a lot of analysis on the Ryder Cup. Davis Love screwed up in so far as he wasn’t demanding enough of his players on Sunday. Unlike Olazabal, he failed to interact with the players during play, especially in the key matches towards the end. As I have said, over and over, the captain is key and his team reflects his personality. Captains get too much praise when they win and too much criticism when they lose. Love was as unlucky as Olazabal was fortunate. Davis was too nice. He did not kick backsides. Putting Bubba at No. 1 and Tiger at No. 12 were his biggest mistakes.