Compiled by PHILIP REID
This is as it should be: Best and purest form of game
For me, the next two weeks will find golf at its purest. Matchplay. Mano-o-mano. Intense and close-up. The world and its mother knows that next week’s Ryder Cup at Medinah – in Chicago – will bring the hottest players in professional golf to loggerheads for the honour and the glory; but, before that, something of a rather more Corinthian nature will be played out in the Chartis Irish Cups and Shields finals at Kinsale Golf Club.
For anyone in any club – in Ulster, Leinster, Connacht or Munster – who has ever bothered to put his name to a sheet in a locker-room looking for prospective team members to contest any of the five competitions (ranging from the elite Barton Shield and Senior Cup affairs, to the Junior Cup, Jimmy Bruen Shield and Pierce Purcell Shield), these national finals represent the end of a long journey.
The quest for a green pennant is – for clubs – an expensive one. For the players involved, the journey which started with an often hesitant signature on a list of potential squad members has taken them through a myriad of qualifying matches, from local and regional to provincial and now to the national stage, which will likely have enabled them to discover inner strength and fortitude. Friendships and bonds will have been formed.
The Irish Cups and Shields is the biggest inter-club event of its kind anywhere. It is the envy of the other “Home Unions” and, each year, it seems to be more coveted by those who play – be it in foursomes or fourballs or singles or whatever team format is required – than ever.
It has also given many former sporting stars, those who lifted the Sam Maguire or the Liam McCarthy Cups or played soccer in the Irish League or the League of Ireland, a second chance to experience team competition in another discipline. For the majority, though, this is their All-Ireland final.
The Irish Cups and Shields are a special part of the Irish golfing calendar. The four-day festival kicks off tomorrow with the semi-finals of the Barton Shield and the Junior Cup and five green pennants will be fought over with as much conviction as will be in evidence at Medinah the following week. It is golf as it should be.
Gone pear shaped: but still a loose impediment
Q A half-eaten pear lies directly in front of a ball in a bunker and there is no pear tree in the vicinity of the bunker. In the circumstances, is the pear an obstruction rather than a loose impediment, in which case the player could remove it without penalty?
A No. A pear is a natural object. When detached from a tree it is a loose impediment. The fact that a pear has been half-eaten and there is no pear tree in the vicinity does not alter the status of the pear. The same applies to a discarded banana skin.