John Hickey won the Inter-Varsity Championship at Lahinch. An opening 73 was followed by an impressive 68. He kept the best for last however and a six under par 66 followed on the final day and Hickey won his first national championship by one stroke. John Murphy enjoyed a great weekend in Portugal thanks to the Darren Clarke Foundation, the Kinsale golfer was selected after his win in the Munster Boys.
Sara Byrne, Mairead Martin, Rachel Thompson and Valerie Clancy were all named on ILGU high performance panels for the off season, while Kinsale’s Cathal Butler and John Murphy were both named on GUI national panels. David Ryan shared the honours at the opening event of the Munster PGA winter series, he shot a 70 on a testing day in Dooks.
Fernhill members were dealt a blow when course owner Michael Bowes informed them that he would not be renewing memberships in 2017. The was a huge disappointment for the 400+ members which had steadily built over the previous five years. With no alternative the club agreed to disband after December with many members heading to Raffeen, Cobh, Kinsale and Monkstown.
While on course activities slowed, the Munster Branch Annual Delegates Meeting proved to be an exciting affair, with three candidates in the running for the role of Chairman. John Long (Monkstown) won the battle finishing ahead of Liam Harkin (Muskerry) and Michael Lawlor (Castleisland). Raffeen’s Barry Lynch was elected as Honorary Secretary while Cork’s Dave Prendergast took over as Match & Handicapping Secretary. The vexed issue of handicaps was raised on several occasions at the meeting with the majority of delegates and indeed the officers very vocal on the stance taken by some clubs on managing handicaps for golfers who are involved in Cups and Shields competitions. The Officers reported that a number of handicap audits had been started and these were likely to continue in an effort to address the issue. Two motions (from Leinster and Ulster clubs) sought to change the rule limiting handicap increases to one shot. Both motions were overwhelmingly rejected by the delegates but only after several people spoke on the prevalence of the handicap builders and how the new limits on increases had gone some way towards fixing the problem.
Traditionally the quietest month of the golfing year, there were two major treats for Cork golfers in December, Peter Alliss visited Castlemartyr and rising PGA Tour star Seamus Power visited Monsktown. Alliss is Honorary President of Castlemartyr and he fulfilled a longstanding commitment to visit. The clubhouse was packed for a very special members-only evening where RTE’s Greg Allen was the MC. As was to be expected Greg Allen had very little to do, despite being over 80, Peter spoke for nearly two hours on his memories of playing and wasn’t slow in giving opinions on the sport and the challenges facing it. Seamus Power dropped in to his good friend and college teammate Cian McNamara and put on a clinic and Q&A for Monkstown members. The PGA Tour golfer who had made the last four cuts on tour was taking some time out in Ireland, and gave members some details on his game, life on tour and an insight into his experience at the Olympics in Rio. Tommy O’Driscoll also secured his Alps Tour card that will see him compete as a professional for a second year, the Cork born teenager sailed through Q School in La Cala, but unfortunately his younger brother Eamonn lost out at the final stage.