Blasts from the Past at the OFX Irish Legends at Seapoint

Blasts from the Past at the OFX Irish Legends at Seapoint

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One of the great things about golf is that you can play it until you get very old. This sets the sport apart from most other active ball sports, where ‘father time’ dictates that it’s time to stop before your hurt yourself. The handicap system also ensures that both young and old, are always competitive. This is not the case with say tennis or squash.

For those of us that have played competitively and still do, the final hurdle comes late in life. When the game challenges you to beat your age. I have met many people in recent years, like me, that go out everyday and they play with that in mind. The odd time that you do beat ‘father time’ it feels great.

Joe Carr and Roddy Carr Joe (JB) Carr and Roddy Carr

My father’s career lasted longer than most. He was 47 when he won the last of his 40 Championships, the South of Ireland in Lahinch in 1969. I was caddying for him. I’m convinced the only reason that he won that late in his career, was to prove his point to me. After I had missed qualifying for the match play, he told me “I’m going to show you how easy it is to win one of these” ….and he did! That experience helped me win the West of Ireland and the East of Ireland in the next two years.

Nowadays with the advances in equipment and the fitness levels of those over 50, it is a different story. Just look at Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, and Tom Watson. Padraig still believes he can win on the main tour. Phil won a Major, the PGA Championship at 50. And who will ever forget Tom Watson’s epic attempt at winning the Open in Muirfield at 60.

The PGA Seniors Tour originated back in 1980. Commissioner Deane Beman of the PGA Tour was looking to extend the extraordinary marketing power of the Big 3 in golf at that time, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player.

JB Carr at The Masters (L-R Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Joe Carr at Augusta).

It has been a remarkable success and has extended the life of PGA Tour players by 10 years and more. Bernhard Langer is still a dominant player on the Champions Tour, as it is now called, at the age of 66!

On this side of the pond the renamed Legends Tour has done a similar job. All be it in a more modest way. It has provided European and International senior pros a welcome extension to their careers. They are also able to travel to exotic locations and take a little time to smell the roses along the away, often with their wives now that they are empty nesters.

The atmosphere at these events, especially for the amateurs playing with the tour pros, is completely different to the multitude of pre-event Pro Am’s many have played in the past. Having played in over 500 regular Pro Am’s over the years. I know the feeling, on the first tee next week, for the OFX Irish Legends will be distinctly different for the amateurs playing. It’s like being ‘inside the ropes’ where the atmosphere is unique and the tension palpable. The pros are focused on their own games and making a few quid. They expect the amateur to play as a participant in the event. For amateurs, it’s an experience they won’t forget, one to will treasure and feel what it’s like play in a pro event.

The other bonus with the Legends events is that the pros are more affable and mix with the amateurs after play and in the evenings at functions. Many of them become friends for the future. The stories from these Champions are also legendary, and they are happy to share them after a few pints in the clubhouse. The pros of this era appreciate how lucky they have been and are a lot more friendly and approachable than the modern-day pros. Imagine sitting around on an evening with Ian Woosnam, Michael Campbell, Paul Laurie, Shaun Micheel, and Angel Cabrera, who between them have won 6 Major titles. Imagine hearing their stories. I have been lucky enough to have such evenings, and they are truly memorable.

OFX Irish Legends Carbrera and Lawrie  

All these Major winners will be at Seapoint next week. They can still play great golf. In particular, Cabrera, who has been absent for 3 years, is back ‘on tour’. At 54, he will be the one to watch with his long, lazy, flowing swing that won him the Masters and US Open. Shaun Micheel the 2003 PGA Champion, at 55 is also highly competitive. The man to beat however, will be Peter Baker. He was last year’s winner, shooting an incredible 63 in a gale force wind. He is also coming off a recent win in Barbados.

Peter Baker at Seapoint Peter Baker after winning the Irish Legends at Seapoint in 2023.

Des Smyth, my co-host for the event and co-designer of Seapoint, will be on hand to welcome you to this beautiful championship links course in Co. Louth.

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