Major Upgrade for Cork Golf Centre

A new LED lighting system has brought a huge improvement to Cork Golf Centre.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Cork Golf Centre has seen a major upgrade in 2020 with golfers now benefitting from better lighting and a longer hitting area.  The centre just outside Ballincollig used the two lockdowns to implement some planned improvements, and it’s been a busy place since the recent reopening.  When the centre opened in May 2017 it was a much needed addition to the western side of the city.  It was within easy reach of a large number of golfers stretching from the city to Macroom.  David Keating was behind the development and his vision was to provide golfers of all levels with a Continue reading

Stafford Skills Up

Ian Stafford who has been busy planning the 2018 staging of the Pro Shop Challenge at Kinsale Golf Club.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

2020 was a different year for everyone in golf, from course owners to golfers to professionals.  With forced closures for over three months of the year, golf professionals were effectively shut down during the closures.  While there were challenges, there were also opportunities and Kinsale based PGA Professional Ian Stafford definitely took advantage of the opportunities.  As well as getting to spend more time with his family, Ian has continued his own habit of furthering his professional qualifications.  Having started his PGA training in 2000, Stafford didn’t stop with his PGA qualification.

In 2016 he achieved Continue reading

Maurice takes the helm at Monkstown

Mauriec O’Meara who recenytly joined Monkstown Golf Club as General Manager.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

It’s a few months since Maurice O’Meara joined the team in Monkstown, and the experienced golf club manager is settling into his hew role.  Having previously worked as general manager in Killarney, Dooks and The Island, O’Meara has seen all aspects of the game in Ireland over the last 20 years.  And the Dublin native jumped at the opportunity to take on the GM role in Monkstown when the vacancy arose during the summer.  “During my years in golf club management and from my time in Dooks and Killarney, I would have had regular interaction with members of Monkstown as we had a lot of visiting groups from Cork and also a lot of dual members” explained Maurice.  “What I would have heard of Monkstown was very positive, and this was very important in my decision to take up the role here.  Like any club Monkstown has faced challenges over the last number of years, however the club is in a great place now, with a thriving membership.  It’s been great to see the popularity of Continue reading

Golfers return to the fairways

Golfers returned to the fairways on Tuesday for the first time in five weeks, and for those hardy souls who put up with the cold and damp of winter it was a welcome return.  While many golfers put away the clubs, the hardy winter golfers will have been looking forward to the re-opening of courses.

There was widescale disappointment in late October as courses were closed as part of the level five measures.  Pleas that golf, as a naturally socially distanced sport could continue went unheard.  Although golf like some other sports was deemed low risk, it seemed that the ban on non-essential travel took priority.  Although disappointed, most golfers looked forward to a Continue reading

The changing face of Cork Golf Club

As well as clearing vegetation, natural wetlands are also being promoted like this area under the 8th tee at Cork Golf Club.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

The work at Cork Golf Club continues as Simon O’Hara and the course staff continue to peel back the layers to reveal some of the original features of the famous cork course.  Well over 120 years after the club moved to Little Island, and 95 years after Sir Alister MacKenzie laid out the current course, it’s almost a case of back to the future for Cork as the limestone walls and original views are revealed.  The projects are being led by Cork’s Superintendent Simon O’Hara and the team of skilled greenkeepers.  O’Hara moved from Fota Island to Cork two years ago, and soon after he arrived he started to make a few changes.  He reinstated the practice chipping green which is adjacent to the 18th fairway and last spring he oversaw the removal of the Continue reading

Changes ahead in Cups and Shields

While many golfers will be focusing on a return to the fairways next week, others will already have an eye on 2021 and there are some major changes ahead.  The WHS handicapping system was launched in Ireland earlier this month and golfers will see some changes from when qualifying competitions return in the Spring.  In addition to the handicapping changes, there are also changes to the cups and shields competitions.  A new eight region system is set to replace the current provincial structure in mens golf, with each of the eight regional winners progressing to Continue reading

Sugrue’s Masters Memories

Although his Masters adventure is over James Sugrue will have plenty of memories.  An impressive  second round of 71 got him into the red for the day.  Unfortunately he’ll miss the cut for the weekend but today’s round will take away the bitter taste from his disappointing opening round.

A handful of birdies, six in all, were among the highlights today.  A few impressive drives and a few good recoveries were also part or the round, and a ball in the water on the famous 12th will also form part of the memories of an incredible week in Augusta.  It was a busy day for James, he was back on the course early to complete his final nine holes from the first round following a rain delay yesterday.

James Sugrue (Mallow) 
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Sugrue’s second round was much better.  He was two under for the day after just three holes thanks to birdies on the second and third.  In a really strong mental display, Sugrue put aside the first round and he went out in two under par for his front nine.  After parring the 10th and 11th, he put a ball in the water at the signature 12th hole.  Although he had a good chip onto the green, a missed putt meant he recorded a double bogey five in the heart of Amen Corner.  But again he bounced back with a birdie on the par five 13th, a great drive over the trees gave him a great line for his approach.  But his second shot didn’t go to plan with the ball landing on the bank of the greenside creek.  Sugrue played a deft chip from the bank and slotted the birdie putt.

Another highlight came when his tee shot on the 16th landed within 5 feet of the pin.  The Mallow man again slotted the birdie putt.  A par brought his round to an end at the famous 18th, signing for a one under par 71, and 148 for the tournament.

For the record, Sugrue finished on +4 after rounds of 77 and 71.  He had eight birdies over the two days and plenty of memories from his first Masters start.  He’ll count the night in the Crow’s Nest, speaking at the Tournament Dinner and the drive down Magnolia Lane among the memories away from the course.  The next step for James , although tournament schedules and opportunities to play will determine when the Mallow man make the next move in his golfing career.

O’Sullivan Celebrates 10 Years in Cobh

Cobh’s Club Professional David O’Sullivan PGA.

This summer marked an important anniversary for PGA Professional David O’Sullivan, he celebrated 10 years as the Club Professional in Cobh Golf Club.  The Ballincollig native has been in the PGA ranks for over 20 years and has made Cobh his home since 2010.  While golf itself has gone through a strange decade, and especially a strange 2020, David was delighted to celebrate a decade at the Marino Point club.  “Ten years on and the old saying is true, time flies when you’re having fun.  From my early days, it was very clear that the members were welcoming and proud of their golf club and that is still very much the vibe at Marino Point.  Cobh Golf Club is on a journey of progression and since I started in 2010 this has been our shared journey.  It became ‘home’ and a decade on, I still very much feel that sense of belonging.”

Although you mightn’t think it, David is now in his third decade as a golf pro.  He trained in Bandon under Paddy O’Boyle and Continue reading

New Munster Regional Executive Elected

Jim Long who was elected Chairman of the Golf Ireland Munster Regional Executive

The evolving face of club golf in Ireland took another step forward last week with the completion of the Munster Regional Executive Committee elections.  Monkstown’s Jim Long is the inaugural Chairman of the provincial arm of Golf Ireland, the new single governing body for golf in Ireland.  The former Chairman of Munster Golf will lead a 16 strong committee of regional representatives after a three-stage election process that saw the first regional executive selected.

This marked the completion of another stage of the transition to Golf Ireland, ending the century long administration of the game by the Golfing Union of Ireland for men, and the Irish Ladies Golf Union for ladies.  Over the last three years, golf’s Continue reading

Michael Collins Augusta Preview

Michael Collins pictured at his base in Mallow Golf Range in Copstown.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

It’s a long way from Mallow to Augusta, but that’s the trip that James Sugrue and his coach Michael Collins had to undertake last week on the way to the Masters Tournament.  Travel restrictions meant that Collins was the only person to head off with Sugrue, and the PGA teaching professional was delighted to be alongside his pupil on the journey to golf’s most famous setting.

“Even though I was really looking forward to getting to Augusta, Covid-19 meant that it was hard to relax knowing that we had to negotiate three airports, two flights and 12 hours in the air” explained Collins.  However after arriving on Friday both Collins and Sugrue got the all clear from their Covid-19 tests and they could head for the course with the important trip down Magnolia Lane.

“It was pretty cool driving down Magnolia Lane on Saturday morning, something that I will never forget, or get tired of” said Collins.  “James has a local caddy for the week so we met Jack and played the front nine on Saturday and the back nine on Sunday morning.  As everybody has told me before we came over, you don’t realise how undulating it is until you see it.  The hill on the 10th could nearly be a ski slope.  They have told us that it will play a bit differently to April as they have had to overseed to get it playable in November.”  The weather is making a difference too as Michael continued, “It is playing pretty soft, meaning a lot of long approach shots into slopey, fast greens.  You will have to be very good tee to green this week to be in contention.  The greens take a lot of reading as the grain isn’t obvious but definitely has an influence.  We also have the added element of some weather heading through here due to the tropical storm coming up from Florida.  There is the possibility of weather delays which adds yet another element to the November Masters.”

PGA Professional Michael Collins who has also made the trip to Augusta forthe 2020 Masters Tournament.
Picture Niall O’Shea

Despite the changes in plans and schedules since March, Sugrue has kept his focus on the golf as his coach added: “To say his year has been disrupted is a gross understatement, but he has shown a great attitude and continued to work away, through all the uncertainty around competitions, lockdowns etc., and kept a positive mentality which can’t have been easy.  He has kept working hard at home since the Irish Open and has arrived here in good shape.  Ultimately, he is playing nicely, he has a great temperament and attitude and has a spring in his step after the Cork hurling and especially the footballers results over the weekend.”  The plan is to enjoy the challenge and play well.