*Sinead Sexton. Photograph: Ronan Lang
Professional golfer Sinead Sexton is hopeful she will be able to return to Florida this October.
While attending primary school in Spanish Point, Sinead Sexton took up golf. “Spanish Point golf club is close to my home and I started going there once a week. I didn’t fall in love with the game straight away. I didn’t like walking as opposed to running after the ball”, explained Sinead who played many sports in those years.
She played ladies football with Miltown and with Clare while she played soccer with Lifford Ladies and was part of some of the Lifford boys teams at the time. Sinead started her golf in Spanish Point when she was eleven and in subsequent years she joined Lahinch.
Sinead started out with a handicap of 36 but she quickly saw this handicap come down. “Initially the handicap didn’t come down a lot as I was still playing other sports but as my love of golf grew the handicap tumbled. The main goal became getting the handicap down and you could lose four or five shots in one event”, explained Sinead who is now in the professional ranks.
She has spent the last three winters in Florida and plans to return there in October should Covid restrictions allow. She hopes to return to Woodfield Country club in Florida.
“When I went there first I was still playing amateur golf in Lahinch where my handicap was plus 3. When one turns professional the handicap goes out the window. My eyes were opened to the professional side and teaching and I decided to turn professional” said Sinead who has been kept busy at home during recent months doing an online course on how to teach and coach golf.
As Sinead grew into the game she was selected on various Munster panels having started competing with the junior section at Lahinch. She progressed to the ladies section. “There were more competitions here and more to compete against. Lahinch won the Munster inter club under 19 title”, said Sinead who was now down to a handicap of 12 and was playing senior cup with Lahinch at the age of 15.
She was just a year older, (16) when she helped Lahinch win the Munster senior cup and by now her handicap was down to 5. “The lower the handicap, the harder it is to win” according to Sinead who was playing off 2 when she was just 18. “Ladies golf in Clare is strong at the moment and all senior team members at Lahinch are playing of scratch or even lower”.
“I finished my masters in Scotland in 2017. I didn’t know what route to go but I had a few ideas in my head. I knew about the programme of going to Florida for the Winter and coming home and playing golf for the summer. The teaching side of things is totally different over there. One is more involved in the overall running of the club. Here a club committee runs all the competitions. In the States the club professionals run the competitions”, she said.
Does this mean that we will shortly see Sinead playing on the various tour events. “Initially I might get to play in some of the mini tours or some of the one day events but, in the short term, my focus is on teaching the game”, she replied.
Absence of golf due to restrictions has been “difficult,” she admitted. “I miss the game and the whole social side also. There is only so much of hitting golf balls you can do in your back lawn. God only knows what the golf will be like when we get back on the course next week”, the popular Clare lady concluded.