From Beginner to Pro
At 25 years of age, the 2017 Isle of Man Golf Amateur Champion, Tom Gandy, turned pro, so IOM Golf President, Dee Lewis, took the opportunity to have a chat with him about his golf journey so far, and I’m sure the following short Q&A session will be of interest to many of his fans.
At what age did you start to play golf?
- I first picked up a club when I was 2 or 3 on the pitch and putt, but that was only rarely. I took the game up ‘properly’ in 2001, aged 9, and I know my first handicap was 48!
Who or what inspired you to take up golf?
- My Dad was the golfer in the family, though he would be the first to admit that he wasn’t that great at the game! However, his love of playing and his affection for Rowany is what got me and my brothers started there. We were helped massively by our Mum too. She would take us up there on summer evenings while Dad would look on, sipping a beer in the sun.
- Once we were started, we were hooked - me and my elder brother in particular. The competition between us, as well as with other juniors who were taking up the sport at the same time, meant that we would be there when the sun came up during our summer holidays, and play two or three rounds a day – with a big thanks to ‘Dad’s Tab’ for our food every day!
- In terms of inspiration from a golfing idol, it has to be Tiger because he just played the game so much better than anyone else. He inspired a whole generation, me included.
Who encouraged or supported you?
- My Mum has always been my biggest supporter. She was the one who supported me when I finished my Business Degree in 2013, allowing me to go and play some UK-based tournaments that summer. This is what helped me realise that I could definitely compete on a national level so I went to work that winter and saved up my wages so that I could take the following summer off to play full time. That’s how I got selected for the England A Squad for the first time in 2014.
- Aside from that financial help she gave me initially, Mum is always there to give advice and to help me in any way that she can. She’s a true legend.
- Until he passed away in 2011, my Dad was always supportive too. He was so proud when the Island Championships were played at Rowany in 2008. I was 16 and shot a new junior course record of 66 (4 under par) and then went on to beat it later the same year, shooting 64 (6 under) in golf week. The card still hangs on the wall at Rowany showing that my handicap was 3 at the time. I’ll always be grateful that he saw me do that.
- The rest of my family are also amazingly supportive, but I’d also like to add that it’s great how many people send me a message or get in touch when I’m away playing. It really is a good feeling to get good luck wishes, or congratulations, or just a note saying someone has seen the scores. Just knowing that people are looking out for me is amazing, so thank you to everyone for that!
Who were you playing with in your formative years?
- Well, my brothers and I dragged each other along, of course but being at Rowany meant there were plenty of top golfers to play with, including the likes of Paul Lowey, Mike Rae and Mark Sutton amongst others. However, getting involved in the Isle of Man Squad meant I got to play regularly with Manx legends like Daryl Callister, Jon Corke, current County Captain, Kevin Moore, and many others. Tom Harris and I are a similar age so we’ve always had a healthy rivalry too, both on and off the Island.
What’s tough about golf?
- Whilst golf is the best sport in the world, it’s also the hardest. It’s a skill-based sport so, frustratingly, working hard at perfecting shots and getting fit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going win. The worst part has to be putting in hours and hours of hard work only to turn up at a tournament and, for no reason that I know of, scoring badly!
- Another thing that frustrates any player is getting a bad break (Daryl may try to tell you that my nickname should be ‘Lucky Gandy’ but he’s lying!). What you have to try to remember is that bad bounces happen to everyone and, if you start feeling like a victim, you’re fighting a losing battle. The good breaks will come at some point so you have to learn to be patient and hang in there.
And the good things about the game?
- One of the best things about golf has to be winning, but that can be said of most sports. In golf, it might be the overall tournament, beating your opponent or breaking your handicap, but what really sets our game apart is being able to play a different course with different challenges every day of your life if you want to.
- Then there’s the camaraderie with your playing partners; the shared experience that brings everyone together in the club house and back for another game next week. I’ve been very lucky with this side of the game, both with growing up at Rowany and joining Mount Murray more recently too.
- I could go on about being out in the beautiful countryside too but, ultimately, what is best about golf is hitting a shot exactly as you pictured it or holing an important putt. You just can’t beat the feeling of a sweet strike!
A few stats:
Tom’s lowest amateur handicap was +4.2 and he ended his amateur career on +3.
- He was Junior Island Champion in every age category as he grew up, and the inaugural winner of the Davy Jones Trophy.
- He has been Club Champion at Rowany, Castletown and Mount Murray, and Town Cup winner at Ramsey.
- He is the current Grant Thornton Isle of Man Golf Amateur Champion (2017).
- He was a member of the 2015 gold medal-winning Island Games team and in the IOM Northern Counties side who finished 3rd the same year.
- 2014-2017 - England A-squad member
- 2014 - winner of the Brabazon Trophy qualifying
- 2014 - second at the Irish Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship
- 2014 - winner of the Lagonda Trophy, equalling the scoring record of 14 under
- 2015 - winner of the Lancashire Links Trophy
- 2015 - selected as part of the 3-man squad to play the Chiberta Grand Prix and Biarritz Cup
- 2016 - quarter-finalist in the English Amateur Championship
- 2017 - selected for England v Spain, Germany and Italy in the Costa Ballena Quadrangular, finishing third highest points scorer wining 3.5 out of 6 points.
Also, current course record holder at Rowany, Ringway and Gog Magog Golf Clubs, and member of the first ever England A Squad to defeat the England Elite Squad in their annual match, scoring 3 out of 3 points in the process.
I'm sure we'll all be watching Tom's professional career with interest.
Good luck Champ!
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