Shay’s Short Game: 2018 GUI calendar announced

World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House main attraction next year

Peter O’Keeffe from Douglas  will defend his Irish Amateur Open Strokeplay title at Royal Co Down in May 2018.

Peter O’Keeffe from Douglas will defend his Irish Amateur Open Strokeplay title at Royal Co Down in May 2018.


World Team Championship the main attraction

Ireland’s hosting of the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House on September 5th-8th, and the Home Internationals at Conwy, Wales on September 12th-14th as Ireland bid for a fifth successive win, are among the major events in the GUI calendar for 2018 announced last week.

Meanwhile, the GUI Senior Panel - supported by Sport Ireland - will begin their season in South Africa, taking in the South African Strokeplay (February 6th-9th) and the South African Amateur (February 13th-16th). An early Easter means an earlier starting date for the West of Ireland, with the first round of strokeplay qualifying scheduled for Friday, March 30th at Co Sligo.

Tralee is the venue for the Irish Students Open in early April (10th-12th) and the Flogas Irish Amateur Open will dominate the golfing landscape the following month as Ireland’s premier strokeplay championship returns to Royal County Down (May 17th-20th). Ireland international Peter O’Keeffe from Douglas was victorious in 2017.

Two weeks later the East of Ireland returns to Co Louth (June 1st-4th) with another Friday start. Galway Bay stages the Irish Mid-Amateur (June 16-17th) and Belvoir Park hosts the Irish Boys Open at the end of June (26th-29th) where Kilkenny’s Mark Power can become the first player to win the championship three times.

July is another busy month, featuring the North of Ireland (9th-13th) at Royal Portrush and the South of Ireland (25th-29th) at Lahinch. The following month, the AIG Irish Close (August 4th-8th) revisits The European Club, which toasted Rory McIlroy’s successful title-defence in 2006.

In a significant change to the calendar, the Interprovincial Championship moves to the last week of August (29th-31st) having traditionally occupied the first week of July. Athenry is host venue for the Interpros in 2018.

Also new for 2018 is an underage All-Ireland Finals weekend at Tramore (September 29th-30th) featuring the Fred Daly Trophy and the Irish Junior Foursomes. Previously the Junior Foursomes was played in the same week as the Irish U16 Championship - next year at Castle Dargan from June 20th-22nd and the Fred Daly Trophy traditionally took place the same week as the Irish Students Open.

Having completed a four-year run at Carton House, the AIG Cups and Shields go back on the road in 2018 and Thurles (September 21st-23rd) is the final stop next season. Limerick will stage the GUI All-Ireland Fourball (September 15th-16th) and Milltown will host the Irish Mixed Foursomes (October 5th-6th).

Farquharson-Black to Captain Curtis Cup team

Scotland’s Elaine Farquharson-Black will captain Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup for the second time when the biennial encounter against the United States is played at Quaker Ridge from June 8th-10th 2018.

Farquharson-Black, who played in the 1990 and 1992 matches, led B&I to a 11½-8½ win over the United States when it was contested at Dun Laoghaire last year and will be looking to retain the trophy when the two sides face each other in New York next summer.

She will be assisted again by Helen Hewlett who will act as team manager for the B&I side.

An invited group of six players will join Farquharson-Black on a visit to Quaker Ridge this week, including the Irish pair of Leona Maguire and OIivia Mehaffey who played in the winning team in 2016. India Clyburn, Sophie Lamb and Annabel Wilson will also join the trip to the east coast of the United States.

Next year’s match will mark the 40th staging of the Curtis Cup. It has been won 28 times by the United States and eight times by B&I with three matches having been tied (1936, 1958 and 1994).

Opportunity to play Ryder Cup Course

Irish golfers wishing to play golf at Golf National, the venue for Ryder Cup 2018, can do just that courtesy of Brittany Ferries. The travel company is also offering packages to the event itself next September.

Brittany Ferries is an approved operator of Ryder Cup Travel Services. For the event itself, it is offering a programme that includes a five-day official Ryder Cup package. Perhaps of even greater interest for Irish golfers will be the opportunity to play at Golf National in advance of the Ryder Cup. Brittany Ferries has put together an attractive package which features Golf National as the star attraction but which also includes golf at Champs de Bataille, Golf Parc, St Malo and Des Ormes. The package sees golfers depart Cork on a Saturday afternoon arriving back on the following Saturday. Included are two night’s accommodation on board and five night’s accommodation in France. Based on two people sharing a car the cost is €1,073 per person.

The company is also offering a two-week package which takes in the five-night official Ryder Cup package (including all four days of the event), six rounds of golf at different courses and all accommodation in France. This is priced at €3,337 per person based on two plus a car.

Launch of the book ‘Powerscourt Golf Club - Celebrating 20 Years’

The members and friends of Powerscourt Golf Club recently gathered to mark the publication of a book celebrating the club’s 20 years of success and to toast its next 20 years. The book is dedicated to the late Dr Michael Slazenger, Chairman and Chief Executive of Powerscourt Estate, who oversaw the development of the two golf courses at Powerscourt.

The book is a celebration of members, past and present. It is also a celebration of a community and the strong links forged with other communities. The book is big in ambition with more than 240 pages, more than 900 photographs, provided by almost 100 contributors. It is full of intimate insights on the Club’s key developments shared by the owners and management. Also, all the Captains and a great number of members offered their own delightful personal anecdotes and stories.

McGrane wins Down Syndrome Centre PGA Abu Dhabi Pro-Am

Damien McGrane edged out Brendan McGovern (Headfort GC) to top the leaderboard at the recent Down Syndrome Centre PGA Abu Dhabi Pro-Am sponsored by Eithad Airways.

The four day trip attracted a field of 17 professionals and 51 amateurs to compete in a two round tournament at Abu Dhabi GC and Yas Links.

With a shotgun start in operation, Damien took charge on day one with a blistering run of scoring over his second nine at Abu Dhabi GC. The Kells man bagged five birdies and an eagle to come home in a remarkable seven under par 29.

Damien eventually signed for an eight under par 64, with Mark Staunton (Delgany GC) two shots back following a 66 and McGovern in third following a 67.

Brendan performed better on the second day of competition around Yas Links, carding a six under par 66 with McGrane signing for a 68 and Staunton slipping back with a 71.

The team event was won by Hazel Kavanagh and her amateur partners of Michael Fetherston (8), MJ Fetherston (14) and John Wallace (8) who posted 172 points (84 at Abu Dhabi and 88 at Yas Links).

Lyons shoots best of the day 67

Galway’s Joe Lyons shot a four-under 67 to win the gross as former Irish Amateur Open champion Gary Cullen edged out ex-European Tour player Gary Murphy for the nett in the TaylorMade Winter Series at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links.

The Beaverstown man beat Murphy on a countback thanks to a stunning homeward run of 31 to the Kilkenny man’s 34. Elm Park’s Chris Cosgrove shot a 70 off four to take the third nett prize.

Galway stalwart Lyons had the best score of the day, a four-under 67, to claim the gross by two strokes from Bangor’s Patrick Small. Lyons made six birdies - at the fourth, sixth,13th, 14th, 16th and 18th - with his bogeys arriving at the fifth and 15th holes. Kevin Le Blanc made four birdies and three bogeys in a one-under 70 to take third place.

Irish take the honours Turnberry

Ireland took the honours when the 2017 Titleist Order of Merit grand finals, powered by HowDidiDo, were played at the prestigious four-time Open Championship venue, Trump Turnberry, marking the most successful year in the tournament’s decade-long history.

Both the men’s and team title headed across the Irish Sea, while the ladies’ prize went to Scotland.

County Armagh’s John Maguire, who plays off four, took the honour in the men’s competition, while 20-handicapper Helen Hunter (Carrickvale GC) won the ladies’ title. Maguire was joined by Eileen Powell, a 13-handicapper, and Yvonne Traynor (19), both from Naas, and Donabate’s John Ryan, who plays off 17, as Ireland won the team prize.

Entry to the Titleist Order of Merit was free and HowDidiDo monitored each competitor’s medal rounds, selecting the five best from each player, in each handicap division, throughout the qualifying period.

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