A new series from Golf Ireland bringing you the stories from some of the most interesting golfers and personalities across golf in Ireland.
Words by Darragh Small
If you were to ring up Connemara Golf Club today you might hear the familiar dulcet tones of a lunchtime radio presenter on the voicemail.
It is AIG Women’s Irish Amateur Close week out west and it coincides with Pamela Joyce’s return to golf.
The Today FM broadcaster is taking part in The First Tee, Journey to Dromoland, a new six-part series courtesy of Golf Ireland.
The objective is to get more women and girls playing the game, something the national governing body for golf have championed in recent years.
Last month Golf Ireland’s Level Par campaign won the ‘Best Initiative to Promote Women in Sport & Physical Activity’ category at the Irish Sports Awards hosted by the Federation of Irish Sport.
Joyce has been joined by IFTA-nominated broadcaster and journalist, Lorraine Keane and Spin South West breakfast presenter, Valerie Wheeler.
The trio are preparing for the chance of a lifetime, to tee it up at the KMPG Women’s Irish Open Pro-Am at Dromoland Castle on 30 August. And for Joyce, she is delighted to be getting back into the game.
“I did Get into Golf last summer and I really really enjoyed it,” said Joyce.
“It is a fabulous way to get into the game because everybody was of the same standard. Most people have played with their partners or parents or had been to the driving range a few times but just wanted to give it a proper go.
“When the First Tee campaign came up I was like absolutely, this is it. I have barely hit a golf ball since I finished my Get into Golf. Just because, I would be quite a confident person but I would feel intimidated going out, I would be worried I am holding everybody up or that I am doing it wrong.
“This campaign is a brilliant way to get my confidence up, get me back into it, and then hopefully by the end of it you won’t be able to get me off the golf course.”
A childhood filled with sport
Joyce hails from Rahoon in Galway City and she joined Galway Golf Club when she was a junior but never fell in love with the game.
She played Gaelic football, soccer and swimming too but hockey was her biggest focus, with her school Salerno and Galway Hockey Club, along with Knocknacarra in Community Games.
Joyce won two All-Ireland medals at underage level before she gave it all up in her early teenage years – it had got too competitive.
“Obviously it’s competitive for the lads as well but the way we view it as a society the pay-off isn’t worth it for the women because they don’t get the same promotion and celebration that the men’s team do,” said Joyce.
“A lot of the time the juice isn’t worth the squeeze because you are putting in the same amount of work but not getting the same praise for it.”
A career in radio
Joyce had always enjoyed performing arts too and although she missed out on the chance to go to Trinity for a dedicated drama course she pursued her dream of becoming an actress studying Arts at University of Galway, where her subjects were Theatre, Irish and Spanish.
She finished up in Galway in 2014 and went to Spain before a chance opportunity in iRadio gave her hope of a new career. And it was radio that became her calling, she achieved her four-year plan in just one, and moved to Today FM to take on the role of hosting their 12 noon slot on weekdays.
“It’s radio for me now. Acting, it’s one of those things, while I love to be the best at something I do not welcome criticism or critique in any way, shape or form,” joked Joyce.
“Acting is very much a career where you are told every day you are not good enough, sorry next. Which is not for me. So I will stay in my cosy little bubble where I am on the radio, they can hear me but I can’t hear them and it’s perfect.
“It's just one of those jobs where it doesn’t feel like a job. I go in, I get to play music, I get to talk about stuff going on in the world that I’m interested in. I get to have the craic with listeners.
“I get to have the best colleagues in the world from Dermot and Dave, to Ray to Ian to Matt. They all get on really really well. It’s a combination of things.
“It’s just fab, it doesn’t feel like a real job. Once in a while I’m like, Jesus I can’t believe I get to do this, this is great.”
Golf lifts my spirit
However, Joyce has had her own battles over the years, she talked previously about her episodes of depression and anxiety and they never stray too far from her consciousness.
“Sport helps, even just movement in general,” said Joyce.
“Yesterday I was feeling like my head is a bit cloudy, I will go for a walk. When I came back I felt a million times better.
“Golf is one of those sports where it’s fabulously social. Team sports, you are going out and playing in a team, but you are sprinting around the place and you are exhausted and you can’t talk.
“Whereas golf, if you are having an off-day and you don’t want to see anyone. I have never come away from the golf course and felt bad. I have always felt my spirits are lifted. It’s like going for a coffee with someone except you are getting your steps in, you are getting your movement in. You are giving yourself a bit of boost when you hit a good shot.
“Sport is incredibly important to your mental health and giving yourself some time. Because we live in such a fast paced life. You are on the phone 24-7 and you are running from pillar to post getting this job done.
“Whereas if you are out on the golf course for two or three hours, it is time to decompress, leave the world aside and have a bit of you-time.”
Journey to Dromoland
Joyce is on the verge of her biggest challenge of all now and becoming a confident golfer is her next goal.
She may have had short stints playing in Galway Golf Club when she was younger and more recently in Rathfarnham and Connemara Golf Club but soon she will take on The First Tee in Dromoland Castle.
“I am very excited to be involved in the campaign. It’s wonderful and I am really happy that I have a female coach,” said Joyce.
“I have only spent a couple of hours with Mary Doyle, my coach, but she is absolutely fabulous. We got on so well straight away, we have the exact same sense of humour. It’s that visibility and representation.
“I don’t know that many girls my age that play. For girls they tend to get into it a little later in life. When they retire they spend their time on the golf course.
“But to see someone so young and as full of life as Mary, it’s great and it’s great to have such strong female representation.”
To find out more about the great work being done at clubs in Ireland - visit the Golf Ireland website.
A Slice of Life series - Mary Doyle talks about women in golf