David Byrnes has had a storied career in the golf industry that has taken him from caddying for Shane Lowry in Adare Manor to the bustling members club at Portumna Golf Club as he strides towards his goal of becoming a golf manager.
Byrnes is currently serving as Assistant Professional to Shane Franklin in Portumna where he has been based for just over two years.
“It’s been great, a new pro shop went in a couple of months after I started, and things have been going well. We have had in the region of €400,000 in terms of investment on things like the pro shop and course machinery and we have redeveloped the inside of the clubhouse too, so it’s been a busy couple of years.
“My main responsibility at the minute is working in the shop and I do a lot of the invoicing and pricing and things like that. Lessons-wise we split that between ourselves in the shop. The coaching ethos has developed within the club and there are a lot of lessons going on at the range and we have excellent facilities for lessons with a great short game facility.”
The 35-year-old is coming to the end of his third year in the PGA programme and it has opened his eyes to what he hopes will be a role in club management. He feels the programme has furthered his knowledge of all things golf, not just the swing and he hopes to use these to good effect in the years to come.
“The PGA Programme been great to be honest, the attention to detail in the programme itself is very good and you can branch out into an area that you prefer. The club management role is something that I would be more into than the teaching side of things. I want to run the shop, manage tee times and societies etc. in the future. That’s where I see myself moving.
“The PGA put a big emphasis on the teaching side of it and they give you all the tools and allow you to put your own stamp on it which I like a lot. You can see a lot of guys don’t teach the exact same thing, they use the PGA for the fundamentals side and then put their own stamp on it for good reason.
“Custom fitting is a pretty big part of the year I’ve just completed. It’s quite difficult, but once you understand it you gain a better knowledge of the golf swing. It’s not an area I’m particularly interested in longer term but being able to custom fit somebody has definitely helped with my understanding of ball flights and so on.
“As for the PGA programme itself. It’s a great programme and I would highly recommend that someone do it if they have any interest in being involved in golf as a career in any way. Guys coming out of school who are big into golf, with a local pro it’s a great job as an assistant pro to learn from someone, and you never know where it may lead you.”
Byrnes’ education in the golf industry started in Adare Manor back in 2012, long before he decided to go down the PGA route. He was initially under the stewardship of Gary Howey and then after a short sojourn he returned as a caddymaster there in 2019, after the world class redesign had been completed.
“A lot of my learning was with Gary Howey in Adare when I wasn’t even doing the PGA qualification, but I learned a lot from him and saw how he ran the business.”
“I left in 2015 and came back in ‘19 as a caddymaster. I had been there before, and I knew what was expected. We had a chat about it with Andy McMahon and I went in.
“I was supported by caddy connect who provide the caddies and I ran the day-to-day things and trained the caddies, so I got a taste for the managerial stuff there. Then I had a chat with Andy about turning pro and I decided to turn pro while I was there. A year into the programme I left for Portumna and I’m enjoying every minute.”
Given his history, Byrnes has been in the company of golfing royalty and came back to the JP McManus owned haven to caddy in the JP McManus Pro-Am while he has also looped for Shane Lowry on multiple occasions.
“It was a great time in Adare. It’s surreal as you are in a bubble and almost on a different planet altogether. There were a lot of tour pros hanging around. I had the privilege of caddying for Greg McLoughlin in the pro-am last year and he would have run the Tiger Woods Foundation for three years, so I got friendly with him over a period of two or three years.
“We had Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell there too and it’s just a different game when you see the quality of their ball striking. It was an experience that has set me up in golf as a career and I’ll always have fond memories of Adare Manor, it’s just a fantastic place.”
As for who his favourite might have been so far? Well, he kept that secret to himself, but did give a hint. “Shane Lowry is the best golfer and most famous I have caddied for. He’s just so impressive on the course and he carries on like he’s one of the lads. He’s just such a genuine fella who I have had the pleasure of walking the golf course with four or five times. It’s easy to see why people, particularly Irish people cheer him on so strongly, he’s just like the rest of us, only a much better golfer!”