THE Covid-19 virus has not been able to stop one youngster from practicing and developing his beloved game.
Golfer Sean Reddy from Ballyvolane is thankful the sport he is obsessed with, allows him to practice by himself, avoiding contact with others, and still able to clock up almost 20 hours practice a week.
The Douglas and Fota member is obsessed with the game with an ambition to one day play for Ireland and maybe secure a scholarship in the United States. I certainly wouldn’t bet against, such is his passion, drive and dedication to the sport.
His biggest win was the World Kids Golf Tournament in 2017, his favourite was the Munster U12, and his most recent, the Portmarnock links kids winter series last month. That was a huge win. Level par off the red tees he won by four shots, playing against over 50 kids from around Ireland in the U14 category on a tough course in high winds, and at the age of 12.
Playing at U14, U16, U18 and adult competitions at just 12 years old, how did Sean get to this level at such a quick pace? Here he tells us his story.
“In 2014 my Dad brought me to the Irish Open in Fota and both of us had never been on a golf course before that day,” said Sean. “We started to follow Rory McIlroy around and I just really liked it. I got a high five from Rory on the 15th hole and I was buzzing. I asked my dad to bring me for the next four days and I followed the different golfers every day for hours.
“I crawled under people’s legs to see the players teeing off. There was a tent where you could try and hit golf shots and I tried this and really loved the swinging of a club. My mam saw a sign advertising kids golf camps that summer in Fota, so I went there for a week’s camp and that’s where my obsession began.
“My dad started to bring me to the driving range in Blarney and we started to play in Waterrock on Saturday evenings when it was very quiet. My dad walked with me as he never played golf before either.”
At eight years of age and like most kids, Sean played many sports, hurling for Sars, soccer for Riverstown and GAA for Glanmire. Although he loved them all, golf became his passion.
“I just kept wanting to go to the range in Blarney to get better. My dad got me some golf lessons from John Dooley, a golf coach in Glanmire and my love for the sport just grew.”
The real turnaround for the sixth class Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil student was five years ago. Sean happened to be in the right place at the right time.
“In 2015, I went with my Dad to London as he was going to a Frank and Walters gig. I visited the Nike store and inside was a golf simulator, supposedly just for adults but with some convincing, I managed to get a try. I started hitting driver shots where they record your golf swing and track all the stats.
“The Nike guys were really impressed with my 140-yard drives as an eight-year-old and more impressed to think I had the exact same swing as Rory McIllroy, and when I informed then that I was inspired to play golf after having watched Rory, Nike asked me to stay in London for three days and meet Rory. I was part of a Nike media event and golf clinic with Rory. It was unbelievable.
“I got to spend time the next day watching Rory do all his interviews and photo shoots for Nike and that night there was a big event in Nike town London. Rory was so nice and told me my swing was awesome and to keep practising. He gave me a driver and loads of Nike gear and Nike golf clubs.
“And he also gave me great advice. He told me. ‘You will have great days in golf and not so great days, but if you love it keep practising and playing and don’t worry about other people around you, just play your own game and enjoy it, but you have to keep practising to get better’.
“When I came home my Dad signed him and I up as members of Fota golf club. I am still a member there but my main club now is Douglas as there are more juveniles who play golf weekly there so I joined them in 2018.”
Sean has enjoyed a lot of success since and also been part of the Irish Kids golf tours, some including The World kids golf tournament in Portugal, Munster U12, Wee Wonders Northern Ireland and Portmarnock Links
“I really do love the game. When at school that’s all I can think about. And as soon as my mom picks me up from school, it might eat a quick lunch in the car, before I head to the club. I want to play it all the time.”
Sean is thankful to those who continue to help him in his quest to become a pro.
“Nothing would be possible if it wasn’t for my mam and dad’s support of driving me everywhere. Also, to my coaches Peter O’Keffee, Fred Twomey, Ian Stafford, physio David Angland who have all improved my game massively which also includes advice on nutrition, fitness, mental preparations, on course management and playing in teams.”