Golf

Lurgan pro Peter Hanna to be PGA Captain in 2019

Lurgan Club head professional Peter Hanna will assume the PGA hotseat in 2019 after learning that he has been elected captain
Tony McGee

When Peter Hanna got the telephone call, he was inclined to check the calendar to make certain that it wasn’t April 1. He was told that he had been elected as PGA Captain and would take up the post in 2019.

“I thought that it was somebody pulling my leg,” said the Lurgan Club head professional. 

“I had no idea that I was even in the running for the post. Never even thought of it, so the telephone call was a big shock and a surprise. I am absolutely delighted, even to be thought of as PGA Captain would have been an honour.”

It was no joke, of course, and Peter (57) is still trying to get his head around what the shock news entails. His notions of what duties the PGA Captain carries out are only sketchy but he will learn a lot more about what it all entails over the next year or so.

“I will be getting some details in the near future but I won’t be taking up the job for a few years yet and that will give me plenty of time to learn what will be expected from me. I know that I will be involved in some decision-making and will have to attend some of the major tournaments, such as the Ryder Cup, The Open, etc. and it will entail a lot of travel, I suppose.

“In that respect, however, I am very lucky that I live so close to the international airport. Half-an-hour takes me there so that makes the travel a lot easier. In that respect, I am a lot better placed than, say, some people in areas of Scotland.”

He adds: “It is a great honour even just to be thought about as PGA Captain, let alone to get the call that left me in a state of shock. When I got the call, it was a case of ‘hold on there, is this really happening.’ Certainly, an honour I never expected.”

Hanna doesn’t lack committee experience as he has been involved in committees for many years from club level, through provincial to national level. He was, recently, chairman of the PGA Northern Branch.

“In my time, I’ve sat on regional and executive committees and on the board. I’ve seen captains come and go but never expected that I would be in that position.

“I was looking at the list of past captains and there are some great names, included, from yesteryear, like Henry Cotton and Peter Alliss, moving through to modern guys of our Association. 

“To think that I am going to be alongside those is something I will carry for the rest of my days. Former Royal County Down professional Ernie Jones was the last Irish pro to be elected captain and that is quite a few years ago,” said Hanna.

Hanna was introduced to golf by his father and after learning the game at boys’ level he turned professional at 17, under the guidance of Knock pro Seamus Green, one of the most respected club pros and coaches in Ireland. He progressed from there and, eventually, became head pro at Fortwilliam Golf Club, where he served the members for 25 years.

“It was a wrench to leave Fortwilliam but as the job came up at my home club, Lurgan, when Des Paul retired, I was delighted to be appointed. 

“Lurgan is a very busy members club and this is an honour for all the members, as well as, for me,” he said.

“My father was overwhelmed when I told him of the appointment. He knows how important the PGA is to me and it was through him that I started playing at nine years old,

“As times have become more difficult, the role of the PGA member is developing and we are now the mainstay of the golf club. 

“Times are really busy for the golf pro these days and that is why I don’t play anywhere near as much as I used to.”

He did have a Tour Card at one point in his career but says: “the hole was never big enough” so he shelved his dream of a life on tour. 

He has no regrets about that and is really enjoying his time at Lurgan, where there are hundreds of youngsters anxious to learn the game and, indeed, many teenagers who are now making a name for themselves in the amateur game.

Hanna will succeed Royal Liverpool’s John Heggarty in 2019. Heggarty takes over from Nicky Lamb next April for his year in the hot seat. Hanna will serve a year as vice-captain when he will really learn the trade.

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