Paul McGinley will finally see his name in gold letters on the board of honour at Grange after being named as Honorary Club Captain for 2014.
Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain confessed that he was immensely proud to accept the honour, which was bestowed at the club’s Annual General Meeting this week.
“It’s a wonderful honour to be made Honorary Captain of Grange for 2014, it really means a lot,” Paul said. “It’s not a position I will have to work at because Tony Frew will be the Captain and undertake all the official duties. I’ll have a busy year myself next year.”
While he joined Grange in 1985 and went on to win many individual and team honours for the club, his amateur career was tinged with just one regret - he never managed to win the Club Championship.
“It will be great to finally see my name up in gold letters on one of the boards here at the club at last because I was always away at college in the US when the Club Championship was played,” McGinley said with his trademark grin. “So finally, I’ll achieve that goal. Even if they just use my initials, I’ll be happy.
“On a serious note, becoming a member of Grange was huge for me in my career. My father wasn’t a member, which was a requirement at the time and I have to thank Donal Moriarty, who was the man who pushed to get me in.
“It was Donal who introduced me to staying to the best hotel in town when we travelled around the country with Grange, eating steaks every night. When we played in Mullingar we’d stay in the Bloomfield House Hotel and not in a B&B and tent, at best.
“I’d always kid Donal and ask him how he’d get the expenses past the Committee and he’d say, ‘We’ll show them the green pennant.’
“Unfortunately, we got beaten in the final of the Barton Shield twice and the final of the Senior Cup too, which is one of my great regrets from my amateur days.
“But I had great friends up here and great times playing with guys like Brian Shaw, Patrick Groarke, David and Leslie Walker, and Ray Roche. It was a fun time.”
Founded in 1910, the James Braid designed course at Grange in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains near Rathfarnham, played its part in moulding McGinley into the player who would go on to win Walker Cup and Ryder Cup honours.
“We are all products of our environment and the course at Grange certainly shaped the way I play the game,” McGinley said. “Grange was always a tough track to score on with six par threes and lots of trees that made you plot your way around and become comfortable moving the ball from right to left and from left to right.
“I read an incredible book about that subject - Bounce by Matthew Syed, The Times journalist who was one of Britain best table tennis player for many years.
“He wrote about Desmond Douglas, who was the British No 1 for a long time and revered for his fantastic reaction speeds. And yet when they tested him scientifically, it turned out that he had one of the slowest reaction speeds on the British team, even though he stood so close to the end of the table.
“So Matthew Syed was fascinated by this. How could the guy who was had the fastest reactions in a match be just average in a test? It turned out Desmond was brought up in a housing estate in Birmingham and learned the game in leisure centre where there were two tables in a space that only really had room for one. So he had no room behind him to move and had to learn the game, and that way of reacting, because he had to stand so close to the table.
“You could say the same about me and the way my game developed. When I was playing my best, I was the best par-three player in the world in 2005. And we have six par threes at Grange.
“Another big forte of mine was shaping the ball left to right and right to left. And that’s what you have to do at Grange with the trees.
“Then you look at Pádraig [Harrington] growing up playing at Stackstown, where it’s on the side of a mountain and not even Tiger Woods could hit 12 or 15 greens in a round. You couldn’t keep the ball on the greens and were forced to chip and putt and look at how he developed.
“So I started thinking about it after reading that book - about me and Padraig and how we developed - and it gave me a huge insight into understanding that we are a product of what we are.
“So I’m very much a product of Grange and proud of it and thankful for all the great friends I made up here when I was young and still have today.”
Grange Captains Tony Frew and Anne Lawford said: “We are excited to have Paul as our honorary captain for 2014. Paul is a fantastic ambassador for Grange Golf Club and European golf. We would like to wish Paul and all of the European players every success in Gleneagles next September.”