It takes a lot to get a club off the ground and when you’re looking at starting a junior golf section that can be even more daunting. Castlemartyr has changed quite a bit in the past three years, in addition to almost doubling the men’s membership numbers, the resort has also started a ladies club and a juvenile section. The junior section started three years ago when the very first junior golfers were family members of existing adult club members and grew from there. In 2016 the section was given some added firepower, when past captain John Paul Twomey took on the role of Juvenile Officer. Twomey had spent a few years on Committee and recognised the importance and the value of building a strong and active junior golf section. “In 2016 I took on the role as Juvenile Officer along with Club Vice President” explained Twomey. “From my time being Club Captain in 2014 I always had an aspiration in taking on the role and expanding the club and offer more to a juvenile club. We commenced by implementing & introducing a code of conduct and policy document safeguarding children in sport in accordance with the CGI guidelines. This was a major stepping stone to getting the juvenile club up and running. All club members involved with juveniles are also Garda vetted in accordance with the G.U.I.” Things have moved on from that first year, the club had around 10 junior members and played in the Fred Daly Trophy in 2014 for the first time. Now with a dedicated Junior Officer, support from the GUI and CGI, and support from the resort, there are in excess of 30 junior boys and girls playing in Castlemartyr and this number is growing all the time. John Paul has invested a huge amount of time and energy into the project, on the course in terms of competitions and coaching, but also off the course to ensure that the structures are in place to ensure a consistent pathway for junior golfers to grow and hold a key place in the club structure. “In 2016 I introduced a juvenile club captain for the first time and we also secured the Munster GUI coaching grant” continued Twomey. “The juvenile club was looked at as a whole with a view of trying to compete in years to come, and produce players for national cups and shields teams. We also had our first player Sean Duggan compete in Munster junior golf competitions. Coaching took a front seat in 2016 and juvenile numbers grew to 30 by sourcing junior members locally. Juveniles are welcomed from the age of 10 years and our handicaps now range from 5 – 28. In 2017 teams were entered and competed in the Fred Daly Plate and Irish Junior Foursomes for the first time. Castlemartyr have also been represented in The Harbour Shield this year in a view to gaining experience for our younger and mid to high handicappers.”
Many club members are now involved with the junior section in different ways, some have come on board to sponsor events and competitions. “We now have some flagship juvenile events in the Leo Spratt Club Matchplay and The Pat Sullivan Club Championship” said Twomey. “Both events have had new cups commissioned. The latter was won this week by Niall Hill with a 79 gross. We also held a fundraiser at the 12th hole at our Presidents Prize in June which raised monies for running the juvenile club.” The event at the President’s Prize also had the benefit of raising awareness among a wider cohort of club members, and that’s a good move considering it probably won’t be too long before one or two of the juniors make it through to the Castlemartyr Cups and Shields teams. Providing the right environment is key to engaging with active and potential junior golfers. Twomey and all of the club committee along with the resort management need to be acknowledged for their collective role in driving this agenda. While most clubs recognise the long-term value of a junior golf programme, not everyone actively pursues it and makes it a strategic objective as Twomey explained: “Each week during the summer months we have held at least two 18 hole qualifying events for juveniles. I have also received great assistance from club member Bobby Lee in running these events and with team events. These competitions are outside of adult club competitions where juveniles can also take part once they are 14 years of age or have a handicap of 16 or better. Coaching this year has taken a massive step forward with Alan Gleeson PGA taking a pro-active approach to the juveniles. Beginners group lessons and individual lessons are taking place under his watchful eye. We are lucky to have someone like Alan who has himself successfully came through the juvenile ranks. He was a victorious member of Mahon GC team in an Irish Junior Foursomes All Ireland and has massive knowledge of the juvenile game to pass on to our members. We are currently in negotiations with the resort management team to try and expand the juvenile club in 2018. With their ongoing assistance and eagerness the future is looking bright for our juvenile club, and with our new short game area near completion this will be an extra tool for coaching and practicing.”
This piece first appeared in Cork Sports World, Evening Echo, Friday 18th Aug 2017.