For Frank Walshe, the golf course is home. The 80-year-old Irishman grew up with the game and has been exploring its expansive international community ever since. From personal participation to watching some of the game’s most talented players, golf has provided Walshe with a continual source of camaraderie, entertainment and joy wherever he goes.
As the longtime USGA member prepares to volunteer at the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, he reflected on the game that has been with him since the beginning.
“I lived beside a golf course when I was young and caddied as a youngster,” he said. “My first experience of the game was so impressive, I believe, that I was hooked straight away.”
In Walshe’s hometown of Blackrock, County Louth, Ireland, summer was a time for sport. Just a half-mile away, Dundalk Golf Club – a seaside course on the eastern side of the island – would host one of Walshe’s first golf memories. Walter Carroll was set to face Mick Ferguson. Carroll had represented Ireland at the Home Internationals tournament (an annual competition among teams from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales) in 1913, with Ferguson doing the same in 1952.
“Walter Carroll was, at the time, the elder statesman of the Dundalk [Golf Club]. Ferguson was the up-and-coming local and regional star player,” Walshe explained. “Ferguson won the match by two holes and Mr. Carroll shed a few tears. I believe he realized his time at the higher echelons of the game had passed.”
This local battle of Irishmen was not only Walshe’s introduction to the game, but the beginning of his golf education.
“Those days, we all learned to play by copying the best players,” Walshe explained. “Many copied Ferguson’s technique. He was our idol.”
Though the Carroll-Ferguson match ignited Walshe’s passion for golf, aviation was his professional calling. Walshe served in the Irish Air Corps and pursued a career in civil aviation, following in the footsteps of his family’s longtime military service to Ireland.