The Irish Junior Masters Golf Tour held their final two events of the year last weekend Fernhill in Carrigaline was the venue for the adult/junior competition and over 60 golfers took part. The format was scotch foursomes and there was a tie for first place. Barry and Shane Williams from Douglas took the top spot along with Fernhill’s Brendan O’Callaghan and Wayne Whitley O’Callaghan. John and Jack Murphy (Fernhill) were third and fourth place went to Kinsale’s John and Laura Cousins. On Sunday Dungarvan played host to the tour’s Waterford Championship with over 40 young golfers taking part. Cork players featured in all categories with Jack Murphy from Blackrock winning the 7 and under section. Fernhill’s Harry Walsh took third place. Wayne Whitley O’Callaghan topped the 9 and under group and this was a great way to finish an already exciting year for the young golfer. He represented Ireland in two prestigious competitions in the US during the summer.
PGA Professional Wayne O’Callaghan is the driving force behind the dedicated coaching programme and tour for junior golfers. O’Callaghan has balanced a busy playing schedule on the Irish Region tour with his Fernhill Academy and the junior tour. He has seen a huge increase in the number of juniors playing and the number of events held over the past few months. He now has a team of like-minded professionals on board to drive the initiative. O’Callaghan explained: “The tour has an advisory board to grow junior golf and it includes Jamie O Sullivan from Charleville GC, Billy O’Boyle and Paddy O’Boyle Bandon GC, David Hayes Dungarvan GC, Joe Murray Hollystown GC, Paul Gray Holywood GC and myself. All members of the advisory board have one common goal, to grow junior golf and ensure all juniors have fun as they learn the game of golf. This year we had four provincial championships in Holywood, Hollystown, Enniscrone and Charleville and the Irish Masters Final took place in Fernhill. We also held events in Raffeen Creek, Bandon, Castleisland and Dungarvan. Next year we hope to have at least five additional events with junior officers enquiring all the time.”
O’Callaghan has set up his base in Fernhill from where he runs his junior academy along with his adult classes and personal lessons. Wayne explained the concept of the academy: “The Academy in Fernhill is booming with over 70 juniors enrolled with the youngest member just 4 years old. The classes consist of golf, fundamental movement skills and fundamental sports skills which basically means we train juniors as athletes and play all sports during sessions as they all benefit golf and of course our emphasis is on having fun. Fernhill is an idea base for junior golf and the owner Alan Bowes and his staff could not be more supportive of growing junior golf. The short game areas along with a short course were built just for the juniors to practice. All the juniors in the academy play the course during sessions to help enhance their experience, as being stuck on a range can be boring.”
Fernhill had its own troubles earlier this year when the driving range was damaged by one of the storms. Although many clubs lost trees in the storms, Fernhill was the only course to suffer from structural damage. The reconstruction work is now complete and set for a busy winter as golfers take cover while the junior academy will continue to use the range through the winter months.