Ivan Morris Column - Big success for Tony Cleary

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
In this week’s Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris looks back at the recent Mid West Alliance competition at Dromoland Golf Club.

In this week’s Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris looks back at the recent Mid West Alliance competition at Dromoland Golf Club.

Tony Cleary produced a sensational six under par back nine at his home club to leapfrog the leaders and win the overall prize in the Titleist sponsored 50th-Anniversary, Mid West Alliance at Dromoland for the third year running.

Teeing off in the final event of a season severely disrupted by the weather, local PGA professional, Dave Foley, enjoyed a 3-shot lead over Joe Lyons (Galway) with Cleary a further shot behind.

When Foley and Lyons drove out of bounds on the second hole, it was the signal to the straight driving Cleary to knuckle down and close the gap.

As usual, Dromoland’s very own Amen Corner - the 9th, 10th and 11th holes - was decisive.

With Lyons fading out of the picture, Foley was still 3-up on Clearly starting the back nine but he may have tried too hard to drive the par-4, 10th green causing a pulled his tee shot long and left, which left him with no green to work with.

Taking his medicine Foley scored a safe par. Seizing his chance, Cleary chose the ‘Tiger line’ over the lake and drove onto the green for a simple two-putt birdie.

Another aggressive play on the treacherous par-five, 11th by Cleary finished in the perfect spot on the fairway.

Foley tried to follow suit but ended up in no-man’s land. Cleary went for ‘broke’ and struck a stunning, towering 3-metal of 235-yards over forest and water onto the middle of the island green to grab a lead he never relinquished.

Confidence boosted sky-high, Cleary chipped in for a birdie on the 12th; holed a 15-footer for another birdie on the difficult 14th, hit a brilliant pitch on the short 15th to record another birdie, a par on the difficult 16th was followed by a 20-footer to the bottom of the cup on No. 17 for a sixth birdie.

A ‘safe’ par on the notorious, 18th for a six under par back nine left would be challengers floundering.

For winning this year’s 50th Anniversary event Cleary and former Clare All-Ireland winning hurler, Alan Neville, the Category 4-9 handicap nett winner, will be custom-fitted for the latest Titleist drivers at Carton House.

MANY golf instructors recommend music as the perfect aid for achieving the proper tempo and rhythm.

The discipline, precision, touch and timing required to play a musical instrument is very similar to playing golf - especially if you compare competitive golf with a concert performance.

Although it is a bad habit of a lifetime, I never knew, until it was too late, that the reality is you must not think of what you are trying to do while swinging a golf club.

All that counts and all that matters is where you want the ball to go and that’s precisely what you must concentrate on - and nothing else!

Because we swing a golf club with our arms and body in a continuous fluid motion, learning how to play the game by studying still photographs and aping various fixed, static positions is bound to fail. Smooth motion, tempo and a repetitive rhythm are more important.

No more than the wind, these attributes cannot be photographed - far better to listen to (suitable) music as you hit balls.

I am no expert on playing musical instruments but I have discussed the methodology with individuals who are ‘musical performers.’

Indeed, I doubt if there is a better analogy than comparing the playing of a golf shot ‘under pressure’ to playing a musical instrument in front of a recital audience.

How, precisely, does a violinist know where to put his fingers?

Especially, when many of them close their eyes and become carried away (transported) by what their ear is hearing and they do it ‘by feel and instinct?’ The brain somehow moves the fingers to the correct spots naturally.

Of course, you need extensive practice to play the violin well because there is a specific posture, form and movements required to do everything consistently - not to mention having the confidence. It’s the same in golf.

Arrive at to your ball, look at the target, do your calculations, visualize the shot and let your natural instincts take over. Holding a violin needs a soft touch.

It’s absolutely amazing how precise you must be to achieve perfect intonation (i.e. pitch) when playing an instrument. Just watching Andre Rieu in action is mesmerizing.

The beauty and perfection displayed in playing a beautiful classical piece is inspiring. To play golf well, you must have the same level of dedication as a musician in order to master a most demanding game.

You must practice hard to learn the notes then forget about everything and just play with your instinct and heart! Music is true art and I see golf as art too. No wonder I’m such a big fan of Andre Rieu!