Cobh’s Martin Purcell bagged a rare double when he won two Intermediate scratch cups in succession. He was victorious in Cork in early August and followed that up with a win in Fota last week, shooting 78 to take the title by one stroke. Purcell had one shot to spare over Andy Quirke (Cahir Park) and Frankfield’s Tim O’Flynn was third with 83. Fota Island has been a busy spot in 2014. From all the preparation that went in since January, to the staging of the Irish Open in June, and the increased appetite from Irish and international golfers to play the championship course. Fota’s Director of Golf Kevin Morris is well placed to hear the course reviews from golfers on a daily basis, both from the European Tour professionals and the club golfers that play regularly: “The feedback has been very, very positive, people have felt that the got the Irish Open experience. It’s really difficult to quantify as it’s going to be a 5-8 year process to see what it delivers. What it did do was showcase the resort and the golf course for what they are. The golf course is a very good test of golf, and an enjoyable place to play golf. What most people don’t realise is the maturity of the golf course now, but its 12 years since the last Irish Open. In 2001 and 2002, you could see the fourth green from the first green, you could see the sixth tee from the third tee. It’s worlds apart now, the trees on the first were only planted in 1999.” It must be remembered that the original course was redesigned by Jeff Howes in 1998 in the hope of attracting a major European tournament.
The legacy from the 2014 Irish Open will last, in addition to the new tee box on the 6th, a large number of trees were added to the 4th and mature trees were selectively added around the course to add to the challenge. In time the 1st, 4th and 9th will prove a tougher test for golfers. The work doesn’t stop in Fota and while the original Deerpark layout got a makeover in time for the Irish Open, now work is taking place on the additional holes that were opened in 2007 as Kevin Morris describes: “We’re currently renovating the bunkers on the top nine. When opened the nine holes accounted for 46 bunkers and we are remodelling, redesigning and closing some bunkers which will make it more user friendly. It’s a great nine holes and if it was anywhere else it would have got the credit it deserved. I believe it will get it now as there were too many bunkers on it, otherwise it’s a very good layout.
Fota recently announced a new competition for the Autumn, the first inter-company challenge. Companies can enter a team of eight golfers playing in singles format. They have the flexibility to play on any day of their choice from Sunday to Friday and they can also split the team over two days. The top 5 scores from each company will count with the top four companies making the series final in late October. GUI and ILGU handicaps apply and all team members must be part of the same company to enter. Fota’s Director of Marketing Seamus Leahy has always been keen to offer new competitions and he’s delighted with the response to the new format; “The format is different in that it targets not just larger companies but the smaller companies can enter too. You can also get out and play in smaller groups when it suits you. The initial response has been very positive so we’re looking forward to a successful competition.” Entry is €40 per player and the competition is now open. The last qualifying date is Friday 17th October and the final takes place the following week. Full details are available from Fota.
Evening Echo 4th Sept 2014