Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris has just published his fourth book.
Long before I retired in 2005 from our 200-year-old family printing business, after 41 years of service, I was on the lookout for ‘something’ to keep me stimulated and occupied in my senior years.
As I was deeply immersed in competitive golf for even longer than I had been earning my living, writing about the game seemed a natural progression.
Writing was in my blood. A namesake uncle, ‘G. Ivan Morris’ was a prolific author and publisher. My late Dad, Tommy, was a proud, newspaper editor. In the 1970s, I wrote a hard-hitting column for Pat Ruddy’s Golfer’s Companion magazine.
On reaching my mid-40s my best golf began to wane, competitive golf began to lose its lustre for me. By the time I had reached the seniors qualifying age of 55, the passion I once felt had evaporated.
My batteries were ‘flat’ and I dabbled at it half-heartedly. I preferred writing about golf than playing it. Working as a golf and travel writer opened my eyes to endless possibilities of visiting far-flung places and forced me to look at the game from new perspectives.
On the strength of my first book, ‘Only Golf Spoken Here’ I was invited to join the Golf Digest Ireland and Limerick Leader teams as a regular columnist. Other commissioned freelance work from overseas comes my way. While these gigs are exciting, they do tend to be sporadic. Two other books followed: The Life of O’Reilly and The Doonbeg Ghosts as well being a contributor to Larry Lambrecht’s beautiful, coffee table-pictorial essay, Emerald Gems.
It took me a while to summon up the courage to write my fourth book but it is the one that I had always wanted to write and the one my Dad probably had in mind when he said: “You should write a book, you know!” I thought he was mad because when he said it, the book could not have been written. I had to allow enough time to pass for ‘things to settle’ so that I would gain the proper balance and perspective. From my point of view, my first three books were ‘practice.’
My friends kept telling me that my ability to simplify golf and communicate my thoughts on a game that has bothered and bewitched me should not be wasted.
But, finding the confidence to tell others ‘how to play better’ and the courage to criticize the game itself wasn’t easy. For somebody who had hit the treetops occasionally rather than the stars on a regular basis, it might be considered cheeky.
But, I did not like the idea of knowledge painstakingly gathered over a lifetime being buried with me. I still remember what my US College Coach said to me: “Just because you know all the notes doesn’t mean you can play like Paderewski!” He was telling me that I knew how to swing but not necessarily how to score.
Looking back, I realize that I persisted in following a dream long after I should have known that it had eluded me but it only increased my knowledge, which I genuinely believe should be of benefit to a new generation whom I am more than willing to help. My fourth book, Life As A Way of Golf, is my bequest to the game that I have loved passionately since I was ‘indoctrinated’ by a ‘golf mad’ parish priest, the late, Very Reverend Canon Gerry Enright in 1961. He, more than anybody, is responsible for my incurable golf disease, leading me astray and persuading me to abandon promising careers in both rugby and/or soccer. It was the age of the all-rounder; specialization was considered the lesser path. Regrets? I have a few.
In Life As A Way of Golf, I set out to explain what playing golf as a lifestyle meant to me. I tell aspiring golfers how to search for the perfect swing, how to practice, how to compete, how to cope with pressure and ‘choking,’ how to find the ‘perfect’ equipment and other stuff – not least, I recount two unforgettable encounters I had with Seve Ballesteros and how I became Golf Nut of the Year in the USA.
I also pontificate on certain issues that, in my view, are hurting golf’s progress into a safe future. I discuss the over-emphasis on professional golf today to the detriment of the game as a whole; slow play; the futility of golf becoming an Olympic Sport; the downsides of new technology and the way it has damaged the traditional skills of golf and my recent conversion to my latest passion, hickory golf. I also name my favourite courses and list 18 reasons why golf gives me so much joy and so much pain.
>>> Life as a Way of Golf (Book Hub Publishing, 2012) is available as an e-Book from the industry standards (Amazon etc) and in hard copy format from the publishers, at http://www.bookhub4u.ie/ or it can be purchased at O’Mahony’s Booksellers, O’Connell Street, Limerick or, on in the pro shop at Limerick Golf Club for €15.