The Early Years

I started playing golf at the age of 4 (so I'm told). My father was involved in building a golf course in South County Dublin called Stackstown and it was to become my second home.

Stackstown was my home from home

Even from an early age and during my school years (I attended Ballyroan Boy's National School and then Colaiste Eanna Secondary School) I loved to practise and with two brothers, an uncle and my father all playing off 5 handicaps, I couldn't wait to catch up! I did so at the start of 1987, at age 15 and was down to scratch by the end of the year.

I played in my first amateur tournament that year, the Connaught Boys Championship and I still remember it well. I got to the final but was beaten on the 22nd after losing a golf ball. I was inconsolable. My brother Tadhg caddied for me that day and it was the start of many years together on the amateur circuit, all the way to the European Tour Qualifying School in 1995. I also finished third in the Irish Boys Close Championship at the Grange Golf Club and it was these performances that earned me a place on the Irish Boys team to play in the Home Internationals at Kilmarnock Barassie Golf Club in Scotland. It was the start of many happy years representing my country.

During that winter I was coached by David Jones and then Howard Bennett under the Golfing Union of Ireland training scheme and made steady improvement.

In the summer of 1988, I finished runner up in the Irish Boys Championship at Birr Golf Club and won the Leinster Boys Championship at Royal Tara Golf Club with a score of 4 under par 284, which helped to establish me on the Irish Boys team. That year, the home Internationals were played in August at Formby Golf Club in Southport and I won three out of my four matches.

I moved up to youths level in 1989 and finished third in both the Connaught and Irish Youths Championships. I then went on to finish second in the Leinster Youths Championship at Greystones Golf Club with a five under par score.

I won both my singles in the Boys Home Internationals, played on the Great Britain & Ireland Boys team that beat Europe at Nairn Golf Club and won five out of my six matches in the European Boys Team Championships played at Lyckopna Golf Club in Sweden. Things were going just nicely and I was gaining the all-important experience of representing my country at boys level. Time to move up a gear!