Death of Christy Greene

 

Christy Greene, the former Milltown professional and one of the most respected members of his craft, died in Dublin on Saturday, aged 71. Though his successes in the game were modest compared with such esteemed contemporaries as Harry Bradshaw and Christy O'Connor Snr, he was very highly regarded as a ball striker.

"He was in love with golf," said John Nestor, the former Irish amateur international, who knew Greene for 40 years at Milltown. "You would never, not in 50 lifetimes, find a nicer person to share a fairway with."

Greene had many other admirers throughout these islands, among them Dai Rees, the former Ryder Cup captain. Said Nestor: "Dai became a friend of mine and he once said that if he could hit the ball like Christy Greene, he would win the British and American Opens every year."

Yet Nestor also recalled an occasion when Greene's game was decidedly out of sorts. "We were playing together in a team event and I can remember him doing the unthinkable, by topping three tee-shots," he said. "But his mood never changed. That was a measure of his respect for the game."

Greene was born in the little village of Killincarrig, Co Wicklow, where Bradshaw first saw the light 13 years previously. He went on to win the Irish Professional Championship at Clandeboye in 1956 and at Knock in 1968 and represented Ireland in the World Cup in 1965. In Madrid, he and Ernie Jones finished 17th behind South Africa's Gary Player and Harold Henning.

He also took a deep interest in the administration of the game, serving as captain, chairman and a director of the PGA. "Christy had a tremendous eye for the shape of a swing and unlike many of today's television commentators, he could predict the flight of a ball before it was actually struck," said Nestor. "This gift made him a wonderful teacher."

On the occasions that we met in recent years, Greene would call me aside and tell me gently: "I'm afraid your friend John Nestor isn't too well at the moment." Indeed Nestor hadn't been well but, thankfully, is now much improved. Which makes Greene's passing all the more poignant.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.