Later this month Kinsale will host the second edition of their Pro-Shop Challenge. Following a successful staging last year, Kinsale immediately decided that the event would have to be repeated. The event will see a re-match between Kinsale’s PGA Professionals Ger Broderick and Ian Stafford and Kinsale’s elite amateurs Cathal Butler and John Murphy. Last year the event raised over €3,000 for local Special Olympics clubs and this year the organisers are hoping to raise a similar amount for Marymount. Kinsale’s Ian Stafford came up with the idea after his nephew asked him to help out with fundraising for a team to go to the Special Olympic World Winter Games. It was also a novel opportunity for the PGA professionals to take on the two amateurs who had come up through the coaching structures in Kinsale Golf Club. Both Butler and Murphy have moved into the senior ranks now but they started golfing through the progressive coaching programmes that were set up by Kinsale and delivered by Ger and Ian.
While the idea immediately sparked a large amount of interest, the Pro’s then had the daunting task of taking on Butler and Murphy. Between them, the amateurs had won six events that season and both went to be named on Munster and Irish panels. Stafford and Broderick have very busy coaching schedules and are not regular players on the PGA Irish Region Tour. Taking on the two prolific amateur winners was going to be a challenge, especially with a large number of Kinsale members looking on. In the end though all four golfers played very well, both teams had scores in the mid-sixties with the amateurs claiming victory. Although they lost out to their protegees, the Pro’s had the consolation of playing some very good golf themselves.
“If someone had of told us that we would shoot 68 better ball before we started we would have been pretty happy given the lack of play we had in the run up” said Stafford. “I think that John and Cathal were pretty happy with their 64 also!” In addition to the good golf, the event also attracted a large number to Kinsale which boosted the fundraising side of the initiative. “Going into it we didn’t know what sort of reaction we would get” explained Ian Stafford, “we hoped some people would come and watch and it was not until just before we teed off and saw the crowd that had gathered did we know that we had really grabbed people’s attention. At its peak last year there was over 100 people watching.” As a result of the large number of spectators, and pledges from many more who couldn’t make it the golfers raised far more than planned for the charity partners. “Our target last year initially was to raise around €800 and we were absolutely delighted to raise over three times that amount” said Stafford. “The proceeds were split between the Special Olympics World Winter Games Volunteer fund and three local Special Olympics Clubs.” This year the four golfers have selected Marymount University Hospital & Hospice will as their charity partner and Stafford explained why they chose the Cork based beneficiary: “I think you will find it hard to find anyone who does not have a link in some way to the wonderful work that is done in very difficult circumstances in Marymount and it is vital for us to try and help in any way possible to maintain the excellent standard of service and care that is provided by Marymount. We were astounded by the generosity of people last year, and we are hoping to surpass our total raised last year for this worthy cause.”
The event will move to a weekend slot this year following requests from members who couldn’t make the Monday afternoon last year. The Saturday afternoon should see a far bigger crowd attend this year. The event will take place on Saturday 22nd July and is open to everyone. There’s no admission charge but anyone who is attending is asked to make a donation to the fundraising efforts. Anyone interested in supporting the event can sign up to the birdie pledge, and given the calibre of the golfers there’s sure to be plenty. Donations can be made via the Pro-Shop in Kinsale or on the day of the event.