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Colin writes about his experience as an international pro caddie, with top professional golfing tips and about Irish golf.  Watch our videos to see hole by hole golf tips of some of the best Irish golf courses.

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Foreword by David Feherty

Daily life on tour for both caddies and golf players

Extracts from “Bagman 2”.  The Sequel to Colin’s number 1 bestselling book, the hugely successful and critically acclaimed ”Bagman”.

Colin writes about his experience as an international pro caddie, with top professional golfing tips and about Irish golf.

Foreword by David Feherty

Of course, few of us even knew that Colin was moonlighting as a writer for that disreputable and disgusting rag, The Irish Times. By disreputable and disgusting, I mean The Irish Times occasionally actually tells the truth, a quality that most players and all caddies righteously feared at the time, as the truth, rather than setting us free, could in most of the countries in which we played, get us thrown in the nearest pokey. When Bagman hit the shelves, the first few hundred copies were anxiously stolen by those who could possibly have faced indictment, but the initial shock was that he had managed to get Retief Goosen to a foreword that contained more words than any of us had ever heard him speak — cumulatively. Other than that, Colin had seemingly managed the impossible. He had written an accurate and entertaining account of daily life on tour for both caddies and players, without dropping anyone in the sheep shit.  As far as I was concerned, this was a literary and moral achievement to rival W.B.Yeats, and surpass Oscar Wilde (well morally, anyway). And all this from the man who had carried my bag to a Scottish Open victory in a three-way playoff with Sir Ian Ball-Acher Flinch, and Christy O’Connor Jr. The Scottish Open is the oldest trophy in professional sports, and within hours of the prize giving, during a drunken bender that somehow included at least one member of Led Zepplin, I had lost it. And yes, it’s still lost, as are the two days after the event (from my memory). Colin could have written about this ghastly moment in the history of the great game, but he didn’t, for one of two fairly obvious reasons. He cared enough about his boss, and he kept mum for humanitarian reasons. The worthless has the Scottish Open Trophy locked up somewhere. (Okay, so mathematics is not a strong point either.) I gave it to him — he lost it.

(Colin Byrne, 2009. Bagman 2: Back Inside the Ropes with Golf’s Leading Looper. Edition. Red Rock Press Ltd.)

Irish Golf, Bagman 3

Royal Dublin Golf Club Gof tips

Extracts from “Bagman 2”.  The Sequel to Colin Byrne’s number 1 bestselling book, the hugely successful and critically acclaimed ”Bagman.

The good and the bad golf coaches

That’s precisely the time you do need to get to a coach who will show you the correct technique most importantly one that you can use over and over again for, say, bunker play, so that you’re not feeling like a total fool having taken three swipes to get out from the sand.

It’s that sort of simple, “here’s-how-you-do-it” approach, that can relieve the fear that higher handicap golfers have of certain types of shots, particularly for the likes of bunker play which feature high on that list of scary shots for the average player.

Virtually every aspirant golfer starts off with a coach whether at their home club or at the range and just as there are good players and poor players, there are good coaches and poor coaches.  Having said that the quality of club coaches has improved considerably over the last number of years mainly due to significant improvements in the PGA exam system which is considerably more demanding both in its practical and theory elements, than in years gone by. By and large, unless you’re very unlucky, you’re not going to fall into the hands of someone who will ruin your game.

Students of the game and the tour will know that there’s a hierarchy of coaches and they’ll be able to name the star coaches and who their players are: Hank Haney and Tiger Woods.  Butch Harmon and Phil Mickelson.  Bob Torrance and Padraig Harrington.  David Leadbetter and Trevor Immelman.  Coaches have been around for years and they’ll be around for years although there is no question but that their involvement with players is far more intense and hands on than it was two decades ago.

To what extent that is a result of genuine technical need on the part of players or simply the players needing psychological support, is a moot point.  Hitting golf balls on your own can be a lonely old station; maybe it just suits players to have a bit of company with the odd bit of technical advice thrown in, to offer some sort of confirmation that they are heading in the right direction.

And fashions come and fashions go: one year the buzz words on the range might be “wide arc”, the next it could be “counter rotation”. All of this theoretical stuff has its place and it can be quite entertaining particularly if you know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, which “By and large I find that amateurs in this category are not looking for any major changes in what they do, they are simply looking for a “banker” shot, one that they can execute with reasonable degree of confidence.” most skilled practitioners of the game can do. If you’re playing the game to a reasonable standard you’re more likely to have a better understanding of what is total nonsense and what is not.  Although I have seen a fair share of thinking professionals totally lose the plot by adopting some theory and approach advanced by what could only be generously described as a crackpot.

(Colin Byrne, 2009. Bagman 2: Back Inside the Ropes with Golf’s Leading Looper. Edition. Red Rock Press Ltd.)

Irish Golf, Bagman 2

Royal Dublin golf club

Extracts from “Bagman 2”.  The Sequel to Colin’s number 1 bestselling book, the hugely successful and critically acclaimed ”Bagman”.

Watch Colin Byrne’s pro caddie video tutorial tips.  Showcasing Irish Golf and the best places to play golf in Ireland.

This mantra’s underlying philosophy is that he is trying to un-clutter a player’s mind and divest him of all thoughts, bar hitting the ball to a target. His view is that good players can let their conscious mind get in the way of executing the shot by virtue of thinking too much and not letting the body, drilled as it has been, get on with doing the work.

Playing with freedom and without the burden of thought and expectation is a pretty elevated plain to be working on — but it’s one that the professional golfer aspires to.

So the good golfer is not immune to having both his head and his swing wrecked by over-analysis.  But it’s the golfer at the other end of the scale that I really pity. The ones playing off 22 who resort to trying every conceivable trick thrown at them whether in books (ah, like this one), magazines and now the web where grainy image meets dubious advice and where you can tie yourself up in knots in no time at all.

To them the advice is simple: STOP. Simplify your life and go find yourself a coach who is not going to talk at you about swing planes, decisive impact, hands at the top, long thumb versus short thumb, pivot points and the like.  One who will quietly have a look at you, suggest one, possibly two things for you to do, and will then urge you to get on with it.  By and large I find that amateurs in this category are not looking for any major changes in what they do, they are simply looking for a “banker” shot, one that they can execute with reasonable degree of confidence.

(Colin Byrne, 2009. Bagman 2: Back Inside the Ropes with Golf’s Leading Looper. Edition. Red Rock Press Ltd.)

COLIN Byrne, Bagman

amateur golfers. Dublin golf

Extracts from “Bagman 2”.  The Sequel to Colin’s number 1 bestselling book, the hugely successful and critically acclaimed ”Bagman”.

Neil Manchip, the national coach to the Golfing Union of Ireland, who has had the likes of Rory Mcllroy and Shane Lowry through his hands, but who also puts his hands onto very ordinary amateur golfers.

So anyway, here it is. To be honest, my career on the golf course was a mixed bag of luck, laziness, lack of talent, an even greater lack of the courage needed to be great, and enough sense to know I never would be, occasional brilliance followed by comas, induced by heavy drinking, and hilarity of a quality few people ever have the privilege to experience, which often lasted for days.

There are few things of which I can be proud and for which I can actually claim responsibility, but I am happy to say that I was the one who got Colin Byrne into caddying at the professional level, and perhaps as a result, he became a writer.

Whatever… I’m saying it’s true. Colin was a great man to have on the bag, and he remains one of my favorite and friends. I hope this book sells a million, and the rotten, black-hearted bastard gives me my Scottish Open Trophy back.

Chipping is another area of torture, indeed most high handicap golfers find they get the hee-be-geebees in or around the green and that’s where they get most demoralised.  Strangely they don’t seem to care if they knock six drives out of town bizarrely that’s kind of acceptable and doesn’t tend to affect the ego of the high handicapper.

But see the head slump when Mr 20 duffs a chip shot or double hits a lob-wedge, and you can begin to understand the fragility of the mind when it comes to expectations — and the male ego in particular.

Later in the book (Bagman 2) you’ll come across Neil Manchip, the national coach to the Golfing Union of Ireland, who has had the likes of Rory Mcllroy and Shane Lowry through his hands, but who also puts his hands onto very ordinary amateur golfers.

Neil has always had a very simple, restrained approach to coaching. I should know as I have taken some lessons from him in the past. His current philosophy (no bad thing that — good coaches are constantly re-evaluating their message) is minimalist almost to the point of non-existence.

Find the ball, hit it, find it again and hit it again.

(Colin Byrne, 2009. Bagman 2: Back Inside the Ropes with Golf’s Leading Looper. Edition. Red Rock Press Ltd.)

Bagman, Putting It Right

Colin Byrne professional caddie and writer. Irish golfing

Extracts from “Bagman 2”.  The Sequel to Colin’s number 1 bestselling book, the hugely successful and critically acclaimed ”Bagman”.

More often than not it’s better to work on attitude rather than technique when you’re practicing your putting.

Irish golf and professional golf tips.

Probably the best bit of general advice I can give in relation to putting practice is to concentrate from six feet in that’s where the average amateur struggles.  Start form two feet out and get used to the sound of hearing your ball drop, get accustomed to holing out time and time again.

Get confident about standing over the ball and expect almost demand of yourself that the ball is going to drop, will it in, it won’t always, of course, and the fact that it might occasionally slide by does make you a bad putter, far from it, but if you get into the habit of knocking it in from short distances, in particular from three feet in, you’ll be a lot more confident and aggressive over your longer putts.

And when you’re practicing those longer putts, try and get them running at the hole at speed. Don’t try to cosy them up to the cup, give it a go and putt wit purpose and confidence and intent.

More often than not it’s better to work on attitude rather than technique when you’re practicing your putting.

Retief Goosen, who has one of the most beautiful strokes I’ve ever seen, has a very methodical routine to his putting.  He hits medium length putts of about 15 to 20 feet, both right to left and left to right.  He then hits shorter putts, up to six feet, from various positions around the hole.

This way he gets to practice straight, right to left, left to right, uphill and downhill putts.  He will then hit some longer putts of 30 feet and up.  He might finish with some two-footers.  The average session before he plays in competition would be about 15 minutes.  After his round he might spend half an hour on the practice green.  Tell you’re playing partners that you’re heading to the practice putting green rather than the bar after your Saturday competition and watch the reaction.

If Retief is putting badly he spends as long as it takes to work into a position that he is more comfortable with.  It’s methodical and logical.  He will run through a checklist of hand and eye positions in relation to the ball.  He will check his posture and then assess whether the putter is working along the correct line.  He tends to take the putter a little bit inside the line on the way back and brings it through straight to the target.  If he is off, the putter tends to be deviating off this line at some point.  It is usually something in his set-up that causes him to move from his regular stroke. Like the average golfer, the reason for a pro putting badly is likely to be down to set-up.  What the pros work on is trying to almost mindlessly repeat the same stroke time after time, until their muscles remember the desired feeling. And don’t be afraid to go to a coach for putting lessons. Strangely there appears to be this weird suspension of logic — particularly amongst men — when it comes to getting help with putting.  They just don’t seem to get the idea that putting and the short game is the secret to scoring.  Ask any teaching pro how what percentage of club golfers walk through their door and ask for a putting lesson, and they’ll tell you about five percent.  It is a shocking statistic – truly amazing when you consider that the putter is the most used club in the bag. Actually the most overused club in the bag. But, hey, we’re blokes and we like to hit things long and hard. That short game stuff is for wimps.

(Colin Byrne, 2009. Bagman 2: Back Inside the Ropes with Golf’s Leading Looper. Edition. Red Rock Press Ltd.)

 

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