23 May 2024

~7 minutes read

Eddie McCormack talks golf and farm-life in Galway

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Eddie McCormack talks golf and farm-life in Galway

TB devastated his farmyard in March of last year and it forced him into a rethink, Eddie McCormack was mentally drained. Now he has gone organic, there are no fertilisers, pesticides or fungicides being used as he bids to regenerate the soil. Meanwhile, his own golf career took on a rejuvenation of its own last year bolstered by his memorable win at the European Seniors in Douglas. That victory meant for an appearance at the Senior Open in Royal Porthcawl the following month and despite injury of late he will likely be one of those in contention at Moyvalley this week. The Irish Senior Men’s Amateur Open Championship takes place in County Kildare and McCormack will look to fight through the pain and add more silverware.

“It was 2006 when we won a Senior Cup in Enniscrone. That was the start of believing in myself,” said McCormack. He had grown up across the road from Royal School Cavan and that was where the idea of playing golf first entered his mind. Gaelic football remained the priority for years to come but the massive finely manicured field next door gave McCormack an idea. “There was a guy across the road and his father played golf, Des Lambert. We used to bring a few golf clubs into the field and bang around,” said McCormack. “I just took into it. There was other friends of mine at home that I used to play football with, their parents were members of a golf club. I asked them would they bring me out to the club and they did. “I was the only one that kept at it.”

McCormack persuaded his parents to take him to Gregory Irvine in Clabby near Fivemiletown, and there he bought his first set of Wilson Ultra golf clubs for £65 and a pair of shoes.  Nevertheless, golf was never the main focus for McCormack and while he longed for a life outside of Cavan, he went to work with Argus Press in the Blackpitts in Dublin. He was there for a couple of years before he returned home to work with Blacks Printers. It wasn’t until October 2004 before he got the opportunity to move west when he ‘blagged’ his way into a job with Jaycee Print Group in Galway – he was taken on as a sales rep. McCormack met his wife Mary through his work and they now operate her family farm in Carnmore, to the east of Galway City. Golf was a constant in the background and when McCormack joined up with Galway Golf Club it opened new doors – in 2005 he made the short trip to Westport for the Irish Amateur Close. He beat Mark Shanahan (West) in the quarter-finals and Aengus McAllister (Portmarnock) in the final four. In the decider, he would face a young Rory McIlroy.

“He was 16, he was very good,” said McCormack. “The noise coming off the club, I didn’t really watch him, I knew not to. But I had seen him in practice rounds before and he swung it fantastic. He was just free-flowing but the noise coming off the ball was something serious. “He was very good. I didn’t believe myself. I didn’t think I was going to beat him. I didn’t believe that I could beat him. “That was a shock to me to even get to the final because I was playing rubbish coming up to the tournament. When I was playing McIlroy in the Close final I was like, you don’t have to be hitting good shots the whole time. You don’t have to be perfect the whole time to win matches, you don’t have to be perfect. “The penny dropped then. You don’t have to hit 68 perfect shots. You can get up and down to save yourself. That was a little catalyst to give me a bit of a boost. “On television all you see is fellas hitting good shots and good putts. It’s not always the way it is. You only see the top fellas on television, you don’t see the boys that are making a good few quid and finishing between 15th and 20th place. “The penny dropped that you don’t have to be absolutely perfect to win matches. I was able to give myself the headspace and kicked on from there. We started to win Senior Cups and Barton Shields and that helped to drive me on and keep me hungry for the game.”

After that narrow 3&2 defeat to a future World Number 1 McCormack began to take golf that bit more seriously, he finally realised his own potential and the following year he helped Galway to a special win in the Senior Cup. He became a mainstay on the Irish amateur circuit and then last year was the culmination of years of hard work, although away from the course he faced some difficult months of uncertainty. McCormack works as a sales rep for BWG Food Services where he covers all of Galway through Roundstone, to Ballyconneely, Letterfrack, and the whole of Connemara.

“But it’s nice to come home in the evening and do a bit of farming, a bit of topping and bit of cutting. Getting ready for silage. It’s good to have something in the back of your mind apart from golf,” said McCormack. They have 50 acres although the farm doesn’t extend across all of the land and McCormack primarily farms cattle – he had 32 last year before TB struck.

“You get your vet out for an annual TB test every year  in March,” said McCormack. “The vet injects the cattle with a slight dose of TB and if they react they get big lumps in their necks. We did them on a Tuesday and then on Friday morning he came out and they were all in the pen. “He looked at one or two of them and said look at the lumps on their necks, they all have TB. So straight away they have to be culled. “That took a bit out of me, I lost interest in the whole farming thing.” McCormack’s farm remained locked down until his third test came back clear in November and he was able to switch focus. “I said to Mary I am going to have to do something because I have no interest in this farming,” said McCormack. “You can’t do any spraying now. The whole gig is to regenerate the soil to try and get the nutrients back going, replenish and revive it. “Basically get it going again and let it start regenerating naturally more so than bringing it on by banging fertiliser on it the whole time.”

McCormack had the biggest win of his amateur golf career last June when he birdied the last to seal the European Senior Men’s Championship. It puts the years of hurt and the past defeats to McIlroy and Shane Lowry (semi-finals of the West) to one side as he could focus on a novel chapter in Royal Porthcawl. “It was the best golfing year ever. I was like a kid in a sweet shop over in Porthcawl,” said McCormack. “To win the Europeans was brilliant, I was delighted and I am looking forward to defending it this year. I am injured at the minute. I busted my groin before Christmas and my back is in a bit of trouble. “If I can play I am grand but the whole thing is getting going in the morning.”

Note: Eddie McCormack is joint leader after round 1 of the Irish Men’s Senior Open Championship at Moyvalley on 3 under par.

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