Place of birth: Dublin nursing home and back to Kilkenny
First adult competitive event: Winning a singles competition at 13 years of age in Kilkenny, with a net score of 58. His handicap was cut from 24 to 16.
Where: Kilkenny Golf Club
Sporting hero (as a youth): Torn between Jimmy Langton and Jack Kyle
Favourite sporting memory (not your own): Unquestionably the All-Ireland final of 1967.
Your own personal sporting memory: Being beaten by Michael Craigan (Malone) in the West of Ireland at Rosses Point by one hole.
Sporting hero now: The elegent Henry Shefflin in all of his majesty.
Your sporting interests now: Fishing, hurling, golf.
From 1 to 10, where do you rate your sport: Fishing and hurling stand side by side at 10. Golf is a selfish sport and I rate it at 5.
Did you like training: Golf was more practicing that physical training. But I still enjoyed every moment of it
What opponent caused you the greatest problems: Michael Craigan (he beat me twice by a single hole).
We met the tall, erect and fit looking Tom Duggan on his return from yet another fishing trip, this time to the famed Lough Corrib. He was eulogising about a photograph of a trout caught in the Corrib two days after his departure.
It was an enormous 27-pounder, the largest trout ever caught on the Corrib.
But Tom Duggan’s sporting interests are two-fold, one as a player, the other as a spectator. Golf to Tom (or Tommy) Duggan was the blood that coursed through his veins, and still does, even though he has reached the septuagenarian years of a good life.
In the widespread golfing arena, Tom Duggan had won numerous Scratch Cups, including Kilkenny (2) and Rosslare (2). He was a member of the Kilkenny club team that won Barton Cups on two occasions. He also played on the Leinster interprovincial team for five years.
He played in two national championships and made the final on one such occasion, when beaten in the West of Ireland by a single hole.
To put all of this in context, we are talking about a golfing era when our little country was producing some of the greatest amateur players in the World. When we mentioned names like J.B. Carr, Tom Craddock, Jimmy Bruen, Martin O’Brien, Ewing, Michael Cragian you would have to be a permanent resident of another planet not to be aware of the status of the players.
Amateur golf was king at the time. There was little or no interest in turning pro.
“When Christy O’Connor (snr) won his first pro tournament I think he collected £1000,” Tom recalled. “I read on the paper this morning that Liam Higgins got €80,000 for finishing 10th in a European tournament over the weekend.”
“The game has changed enormously, mainly through the interest of the written and TV media. They are playing for a king’s ransom in most tournaments. Up to the mid-sixties, you would have had thousands following golf at the many tournaments nationwide, but that took a severe about turn with the arrival of media interest, coupled with sponsorship.”
We have been boxing well above our weight on the courses around the World, Tom?
“We are tremendous exponents of the game, respected and feared worldwide,” he smiled with obvious pride. “But then as a nation we tend to produce tremendous results in whatever sport you name. In golf, of course, in show jumping, in horse racing, and you can stay categorising.
“In my time, the game was amateur and the only guys that had an interest in turning pro were sons of pros or caddies. That was one of the reasons why great amateurs couldn’t break the circle woven around the Carrs, Craddocks, Bruens and O’Briens. Nowadays the moment a good amateur shows potential, the next progression is into the pro ranks, so that there is opportunity for the good amateur to make onto the national team.”
Still as athletic looking and commanding a figure as ever, Tom Duggan has brought great prominence and respect to his sport and most definitely to his commercial enterprise (the Monster House on High Street) in Kilkenny. He is so quintessentially Kilkenny, and modest.
Would you have considered turning pro in your prime?
“I simply wouldn’t have been good enough,” was the tell it as it is reply.
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