By Paddy Morgan
LIKE many sports men and women, Dublin PGA Pro Graham Sweeney found that the last year and half was a trying experience.
With the closure of all sports training bar those considered to be elite level, many did not know if the games they’d dedicated their lives to would come back the same.
Graham (pictured above) spoke with Northside People about the return of golf and what that means to someone like him.
“Absolutely delighted to be back at it. I’m a man that likes routine and I’ve obviously been busy with coaching which I love to do, but I’m very happy to be back playing, because when you get out of a routine it’s difficult to motivate yourself back into it.”
Not only was golf one of the first sports to be opened back up again, it now appears that it’s appeal has grown throughout the last year and half. Graham has noticed a significant upsurge in people taking up golf after rolling lockdowns.
“Membership has been on the up since the first lockdown and it has continued since we reopened this year. Most of our categories are nearly at capacity at Elmgreen and I have a lot of newcomers coming to the game.
“Golf has definitely grown since the pandemic and it’s bringing a lot of new people to the game which is great. I had a lot of guys that played GAA take up golf last Summer and again this year.
“GAA only started back this month so definitely with GAA on the back burner it has freed up time for people, but it would be interesting to see if the beginners stick with golf as these things start to reopen.”
Regardless of whether newcomers transition into lifetime practitioners Graham is led by his love of golf no matter if it’s coaching a newbie or playing PGA.
“I would rather play if I’m playing well but I would rather coach if I’m not playing well,” Graham jokes.
“I love playing that’s the reason I got involved in golf. Playing would be my number one.
“I’m lucky that I coach for a living but playing for me would be more satisfying if I had to choose. But coaching someone who works on what I tell them, that’s brilliant as well. That is as good as me playing. I love when I hear good positive feedback so it’s great when you see your students going out and getting their handicap down and winning prizes and you can see how delighted they are.
“That is the most satisfying part of the role and to be part of that positive work after all that’s gone on the last year and half is a real reward.”
With that said Graham is very much focused on growing his coaching business moving out of the pandemic world and embracing people’s new found love of the game.
“Coaching has been my main focus the last while. Thankfully it’s been busy and I definitely want to keep progressing the business. Since I joined Elmgreen Golf Club it has grown each year and I hope that continues. Elmgreen is run by Carr golf and they have a great marketing team who are in control of our social media and we keep quiet active on there. That’s something that I have to get better at myself for sure.
“I’m not the best on social media but in winter coaching usually eases off so that would give me more time to promote my coaching business. I plan to set up an Instagram page and promote the work as far and wide as possible and take advantage of this upswing in people getting into golf.”
With sports coming back, the weather being decent and life looking like it will start moving towards normal, it’s the perfect time to get into the swing of things like taking up a new passion or hobby and put the last year and half in the rear view.