Galway hurling great Joe Canning loves his golf, whether it be at Portumna, Galway Bay, Adare Manor or Waterville.
ou can’t miss him on the links. He’s the left hander who putts right handed. But if he’s ever in your fourball, for God’s sake don’t add to the torture and mention that last minute free in the 2018 All Ireland Final against Limerick.
You can see him in action when he joins three-time Derby-winning jockey Johnny Murtagh and world number one Disability Golfer Brendan Lawlor in the celebrity line-up for the Horizon Irish Open Pro Am at Mount Juliet Estate in Co Kilkenny on Wednesday June 29.
1. How is your golf? Not too bad lately. I am getting more time since I retired to play a bit more. It’s like everything – one day it’s a good day, then maybe it’s not so good. That’s the best thing about it. It’s a good leveller. At times it’s okay and then at other times, it’s absolutely rubbish.
2. How did you get started in the game? I played a little when I was 14 or 15 through my younger brother Frank. So I got into it messing around with his clubs at home and playing golf with him. But I play a lot more now in the last four or five years than I did before. I didn’t get my first real handicap until around 2017.
3. Choose your weapon….Driver or putter? And why? Can I not choose the wedge, no? Probably the putter. My driver is okay but it can go a bit skew-ways sometimes. I hit a fade so I am trying to straighten it up a little bit. I am probably steadier with the putter.
4. Links or parkland? Why? I really enjoy links. I think it’s a real test. Parkland is a bit safer. Links is always a challenge and you never hit the same shot every time. With the wind factor, the course is always changing no matter how many times you play it.
5. When were you happiest on the golf course? Probably the first day I played Adare Manor. That was a really cool day – to experience that with your own caddie – it was an insane day.
6. Who’s your sporting hero? When I was a kid, it was Ronan O’Gara. I always admired him from a young age, ever since I saw him when Cork Con were playing Buccaneers in an AIL semi-final. It was just around the time he was starting off with Munster as well. I have just followed his career and enjoyed watching him perform under pressure. He backed himself all the time, even when people where doubting him. He has carried that on through management and I like the way he carries himself – his no bullshit approach. In fact, I admire him now even more than when he was younger.
7. Name an opponent or rival you especially admired and why. JJ Delaney from Kilkenny. I seemed to mark him a lot of the time when we played Kilkenny. And I always enjoyed marking him because I was testing myself against one of the best ever. More often than not, I didn’t come out the right side of that battle. I’d say to myself, jeez, will you ever learn. But I always admired him. Sound fella off the field too. He was the ultimate competitor and someone I had huge respect for.
8. What’s your golfing ambition? Do you have one? My dream is to play a round under par. The closest I have got is a 74 which was only two weeks ago in Adare. My big goal is to shoot a level par round or maybe just dip into the red. That’s my short term goal.
9. Name your dream fourball (they don’t have to be golfers). And name the venue. I’d have to pick Tiger, Shane (Lowry obviously) and JP McManus in Augusta. It would be myself and JP against the boys. What JP is doing with his Pro-Am is unbelievable.
10. If you could change something about the modern game of hurling, what would it be? I wish they’d stop making up new rules!
11. If I gave you a mulligan in your hurling career, what would it be? The 2018 All Ireland Final. The last free. It was a free to draw the match from about 100 yards and it just dropped short and Limerick won the All Ireland. It was the last puck of the game so I’d love to have that back and hit it again. I tried to hit it nearly too hard and didn’t connect sweetly enough. So I’d probably swing smoother and not look to try and kill the ball. It’s one I always think about ever since. Plus the fact that I live in Limerick now and somebody reminds me about it nearly every day. Thanks for missing that free. It makes it way worse.
12. If you had just one more round to play, where would it be? It has to be Augusta. It is the ultimate place you want to play, maybe because it’s so hard to get in there. What’s rare is wonderful. But wouldn’t it be pretty cool just to play in the JP McManus Pro-Am in Adare? But I guess Augusta. If not, St Andrews just to see what it’s like. The one place I love going is actually Waterville. It’s probably my favourite course I have played,
13. What’s your favourite par three? The 16th in Adare is always different. Depending on the pin position, it could be anything from a pitching wedge to a five-iron. I always look forward to the challenge of the 16th even though it can ruin your round.
14. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Maybe not to have taken people’s opinions so personally in my sporting career. With social media, everyone has an opinion these days and you have to realise that most people haven’t a clue anyway.
15. What’s your most treasured possession? I have my Mum’s wedding ring. She passed way in January. I am having it re-sized so I can wear it. If I ever lost that… Her name was Josephine, so I guess that’s why I was named Joseph.
16. If you could change something about your golf, what would it be? I’d love to drive it more consistently. I’d like a little more confidence in my driving.
17. Who’s your favourite golfer of all time? Why? Tiger is the box office but I’d go with Shane. He probably wears his heart on his sleeve most of the time and his short game is unbelievable. He just leaves it all out there and he’s really competitive.
18. What’s your idea of perfect happiness? Being at home with the whole family having a barbecue on a sunny evening.