McGrane takes €1,000 Shootout yet again: "Listen lads, if you can't beat me..."
Damien McGrane speaking at the 2015 Irish Golf Writers' Awards

Damien McGrane speaking at the 2015 Irish Golf Writers' Awards

Damien McGrane might not have a tour card these days but he gave the aspirants some tough love for the second week running with a final hole birdie giving him the €1,000 pot in the Elite Golfers' Alliance at Palmerstown Stud on Tuesday.

Players with ambitions to make it on the big tours — they hail from the Challenge Tour, the mini tours or the Irish Region of the PGA — each put €100 in the pot to tee it up against McGrane and a European Tour member in what is a competitive, winner-takes-all chance for up-and-coming players to test themselves and learn something new.

"I had to tell the boys, 'Listen lads, if you can't beat me, with all the effort you are putting in, you need to up your game," the 2008 Volvo China Open winner said of Tuesday's action. "You will have to start doing something slightly different." 

He added: "If I am only playing once or twice a week and I am able to go around Palmerstown Stud in two under and win the money without too much pressure, you need to analyse what your are doing. These guys are full time players and I am not being disrespectful, I am being honest with them."

And the reaction of the players? 

"They were amused by it," he said. "But that's the reason we got together, so we can be honest and frank with each other and hopefully stimulate each other to improve and shoot better scores. Whoever shoots the best score gets well paid and if you play average you go home with nothing. And that has hit home with a few of them. It is not my fault if they are underperforming." 

Tour players such as Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne and Michael Hoey have already given up their time to join McGrane and a selected group of invitees at a venue in the Dublin area over the past few weeks at venues such as the Montgomerie at Carton House, The Island and Royal Dublin.

With an invited "industry expert" regularly attending to give insights into their field, whether it be caddying, nutrition or even media relations at the post-golf sitdown, the event has become highly popular with players like Rory McIlroy and Paul McGinley commenting that it's a great idea.

It's surprising to hear that McGrane has had to deal with last minute defections every week when players have the chance to win great money for very little outlay and sharpen their competitive instincts against fellow pros.

There was no special guest this week but McGrane proved to be top dog for the second event running and given that he lost his card last year and hasn't played a Tour event since November's Q-School, the gap between the aspirants and the veteran leaves them with questions to answer. 

McGrane was joined at a soft but "brilliantly presented" Palmerstown Stud by Brian Casey, Ger Hall, Chris Selfridge, David Carey, Ciaran Bogan, David Rawluk, Richard O'Donovan, Joe Dillon and Sean Denny. 

He came to the 18th tied  for the lead with Casey in a group that also featured Challenge Tour regular Selfridge ('a beautiful player") and Carey.  Selfridge had played well for the first 12 holes but a poor finish ended his hopes of winning the cash

With Ciaran Boggan (72) the only other player to shoot a score of par or better, it came down to a shootout between McGrane and Carey, who were both one-under playing the 18th.

McGrane's approach to 10 feet gave him a birdie chance and while Casey hit his approach inside him, McGrane rolled in the putt and walked away with the €1,000 pot. 

"I hit a good drive and an eight iron to 10 feet," McGrane said. "Brian was inside me but he failed to convert. I could see the hurt in his face. He will probably learn and get more out of it by not winning that had he coasted home. 

"He will come back stronger and better for it and that's what we are about. We are about trying to improve.

"And if you don't have €100 you either don't play or you turn up and play well and try and capitalise on it. If a touring pro tells me they don't have €100, it does't make any sense considering when you go to Dublin airport, it costs that to put a suitcase and a golf bag on a flight.

"There is no point in saying you can't afford to play. You have to invest in your future and what we are doing is a cheap learning curve. And if you have 10 guys who back their own ability, they should be able to win one of 10 outings to recoup their funds."

This was the last of the Irish Tour Pro Series Shootouts until the autumn, when more big-name Irish tour players are likely to turn up for the weekly shootout.

Aspiring tour players eager to play, venues keen to host, industry experts keen to speak to a group of 12 professional golfers or sponsors willing to explore a new opprotunity should email Damien at