The Pro Shop Challenge returns to Kinsale Golf Club this month, this will be the third staging of the very popular charity fundraising event. The brainchild of Ian Stafford and Cathal Butler, the challenge started in 2016 with Ian and Cathal partnering with Ger Broderick and John Murphy respectively. The amateurs took the win that year, the young guns took an early lead and never looked back as the the confidence of youth helped them to wrap up a win. Most importantly the event raised over €3,000 for Special Olympics. Delighted with their efforts in 2016, Butler and Murphy spearheaded the second staging of the event last year. This time however their wings were clipped. Broderick and Stafford used all of their experience and knowledge to take down the cocky amateurs, beating them by a clear margin in the end. Both professionals, who were involved first hand in the coaching and development of Butler and Murphy, were delighted to beat the amateurs in front of a huge crowd in Kinsale. Yet again the main winner was the charity partner. Marymount Hospice was the selected beneficiary and over €3,000 was handed over after the event. With the series score at 1-1, interest is building in this years competition. The event was first proposed by Ian Stafford who quickly enlisted a core team to turn the idea into an event. Keeping the event going is now the priority for Ian. “With the third edition this year, the fact that the pro’s managed to win last year has given the event this year a heightened sense of interest” said Ian Stafford. “The event needs to stay competitive to be a success. Having said that both Ger and I have thoroughly enjoyed our year as Champions, for whatever success our amateur opponents have we will always be able to tell them that we beat them, and we have reminded them of that at every available opportunity.”
The Pro Shop Challenge has two beneficiaries this year, the RNLI will join Marymount as the chosen charities. With a very limited number of dates available due to the busy schedules of all four golfers, the organisers worked had to select a date that would help to draw bigger crowds. “While we were delighted with the amount of money we raised last year, we have realised that a Saturday probably isn’t the best day to host the event as it clashes with so many other events on a mid-summer Saturday” said Stafford. “That’s why we have changed the event to a Friday afternoon on July 20th. Kinsale Golf Club are giving us huge support in hosting the event, especially Captain Brian Doran who has been putting up posters all over town and drumming up support. The club will host a presentation after the event along with a club function to honour John Murphy’s historic win in St Andrews recently.” And as it’s a charity event, much of attention will be focused on raising funds through sponsorship and donations. Ian has a very clear target in mind for the event. “We have a real focus on trying to surpass the €10k figure this year for the hosting of the 3 events, we need to raise in the region of €3600 this year to do so. The funds raised from this years event will be split equally between Marymount Hospice and the RNLI. I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded of the worthy need of Marymount Hospice and the fantastic work they do in very difficult circumstances and with Kinsale being a coastal town the work done by the RNLI in keeping people safe on our waters is something that we would also like to acknowledge by trying to raise funds for them. We hope that the Pro Shop Challenge will continue for many years and we have now given the low handicappers in the club the incentive to try and make the amateur side by setting criteria that the lowest 2 players on WAGR on May 1st will qualify to play on the amateur side. Anyone who would like to come and watch the event is more than welcome and it will be a chance to see the newly crowned St Andrews Links Trophy Champion John Murphy in action. There is no charge for entry but we would appreciate if anyone attending would make a donation towards our charities. Online donations can be made at http://www.isgolfcoaching.com/pro-shop-challenge.” Kinsale has been a busy place so far this year. On the course they had two teams reach the final stages of the Cups and Shields. The Jimmy Bruen team won their qualifier and beat Fermoy in the South Munster final. Last week the Senior Cup team reached the semi-final in Cork Golf Club. The course in Kinsale is also a busy spot and the recent fine weather has allowed staff to present it in great condition. It recently hosted the Pierce Purcell area final and came in for praise from all involved. Changes to the 9th and 18th holes have also been welcomed. Over the past 18 months the water features were removed leading to an improvement in the pace of play. New shaping and mounds were introduced on the approach to the 18th green which maintained the integrity of the challenging closing hole. With plenty of opportunities to play at open competitions, Kinsale should definitely be on the list for 2018.