Kinsale keep their head to see off Lee Valley and Monkstown
Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge qualifying
CEO of Allianz Sean McGrath presenting first prize to Tim Smyth, captain of Kinsale Golf Club; Jo Condon, lady captain; and Michael Landers, president. Photograph: John Allen/Provision
It is reputed that Alastair Mackenzie was given a budget of £600 in old money when tasked with designing a course on Little Island in the mouth of the river Lee, and the legacy of the designer – who also numbers Royal Melbourne and Augusta National among his work – is that Cork Golf Club’s wonderful course remains both challenging and invigorating.
For those players – captains and officials – representing their clubs in the Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge qualifying competition, playing the Mackenzie masterpiece was almost reward enough. Almost! The grander prize, though, was to book a place in the national finals at The K Club later this year, and to that end the performance of Kinsale in winning the qualifier was hugely impressive.
On the historic course, which once played host to the Irish Open in 1932 when English golfer Alf Padgham triumphed, and where there are other reminders of the past – a wonderfully preserved cart which was used to remove stone from the quarry, a plaque on a limestone promontory by the sixth hole, known as Spion Kop, which connects back to the Boer War – Kinsale produced a fine score of 77 points to win out.
It was a tough, old battle all the same. Kinsale – with single handicappers Tim Smyth, the men’s captain, and club president Michael Landers, more than ably assisted by lady’s captain Jo Condon – ultimately had two points to spare over Lee Valley and Monkstown. All three clubs progress to the national final in Straffan in September.
Kinsale’s consistency through the scorecard – two of three counting on each hole – was impressive, with no score less than three on any hole.
But it was their work coming up to the turn which ultimately gave them some daylight on their pursuers. On the par 3 seventh hole, a classic Mackenzie short hole with a large sloping green protected by bunkers left, Condon and Landers each parred for a team score of six points. Then on the par 4 eighth Condon’s par yielded four points, while Landers also parred to contribute three. The seven points was sufficient to bring smiles to their faces to go with their resolve to remain focused on the task at hand.
Kinsale turned in 42 points, and kept the scorecard going, with Smyth’s back-to-back pars on the 16th and 17th holes proving important in keeping their noses in front.
Lee Valley claimed second place on countback from Monkstown, although both had the consolation of also booking a place in the final.
Lady captain Joan Tassie – playing off 35 – provided a real highlight to Lee Valley’s card, with a stunning birdie two on the seventh hole where Chris O’Sullivan’s par added to the eight points haul.
Tassie also parred the 15th to contribute four points, while Patrick Mullins and O’Sullivan made short work of the par 4 17th with birdies that yielded a team score of eight points and proved crucial in giving them the runners-up spot on countback as they covered the homeward journey in 41 points for a total of 75.
Monkstown’s team of four-handicapper Shane Horgan, lady captain Carol Murphy and men’s captain Maurice McGrath were consistent with a front nine of 38 and a back nine of 37 points. Horgan, though, was the star of the show, contributing no fewer than three birdies, on the sixth, eighth and 13th holes.
Future Allianz Irish Times regional qualifiers will be held at Malone (June), Mount Juliet (July) and Galway Bay (August), with the grand final set to be played on the Palmer Ryder Cup course at The K Club on September 3rd.
77 pts - Kinsale (Tim Smyth (5), Jo Condon (21), Michael Landers (9))
75 pts - Lee Valley (Chris O’Sullivan (12), Joan Tassie (35), Patrick Mullins (21)) on countback from Monkstown (Maurice McGrath (19), Carol Muprhy (14), Shane Horgan (4))