Pro Shop Challenge IV, Kinsale Golf Club

Kinsale Pro Shop Challenge 3_July 2018

Cathal Butler and John Murphy (centre) pictured with Ian Stafford and Ger Broderick at the Pro Shop Challenge at Kinsale last week. Picture: Aidan Stafford

Kinsale’s Pro Shop Challenge is back, and the fourth staging of the charity fundraiser is set for a change with the pro’s taking on the internationals in August.  The Kinsale Pro team remains the same, Ger Broderick and Ian Stafford are currently in training in the hope of winning back the title they lost last year.  The line up on the other side has changed though, the amateurs are now restyled as the “internationals” and it also features a change in the line up.  14 year old Eoghan Cassidy will line up with John Murphy.  Murphy is currently on the senior Irish team while Cassidy is on the Irish Under 14 and Under 16 squads.  The event takes place on Thursday 15th August, and there should be a great afternoon of golf and fun.  Ian Stafford has been the driving force behind the event, from a small start in 2016, the event has raised well over €11,000 for the charity partners.  Keen to keep the event moving, Ian proposed a change to the format this year.  “This year we are celebrating the fact that Kinsale Golf Club has had 2 International Golfers in the past twelve months giving the match its title ‘The Internationals versus The Pros’, explained Ian.  “John Murphy is returning for his 4th PSC having represented Ireland in the European Team Championships, the Eisenhower Trophy and he also made his debut for the GB&I St Andrews Trophy Team last year. The +5 handicapper is also a member of this years Walker Cup Panel.  Eoghan Cassidy will be making his first appearance in the PSC, the reigning Connacht U14 and Munster U13 Champion is a current international at both U14 and U16 level and is one of the rising stars of the Irish Golf Circuit.”

Kinsale Pro Shop Challenge 3_July 2018_2

Some of the large crowd watching the golf during the Pro Shop Challenge. Picture: Aidan Stafford

“This year’s match will feature a number of side challenges” added Stafford”.  Total birdie bonuses, eagles bonuses, closest to the hole on par threes, all of which have been sponsored by local businesses. It is also rumoured that a KGC member has pledged a substantial amount that the two Pros will be outdriven by both their opposition partners on any given hole. It is also rumoured that the pros have been doing a lot of training offsite, including warm weather training trips, in order to stay under the radar.”  Whatever the truth about extra training, it must be remembered that two years ago the pro’s taught the amateurs a lesson with a win that surprised many including their opponents.  Over the years there have been several beneficiaries including Kinsale RNLI, Special Olympics and Marymount.  This year the two beneficiaries will be Marymount and the Jack and Friends Centre.  The Jack and Friends centre is a Bandon based charity, supporting children and their families who are living with autism and other developmental disabilities.  The centre is run by volunteers and as they do not receive government funding, they rely on fundraising to remain open.  The centre currently supports 90 families, providing subsidised occupational and play therapy, social clubs and sports classes.  The format for the event this year will be same, a fourball betterball, played from the back tees in Kinsale.  John Murphy was briefly home last week and shot a combined seven under for two rounds.  Unfortunately for Murphy though, it meant two points ones, as he didn’t manage to play to his handicap of +5.  Eoghan Cassidy is also playing well, he’s playing off a handicap of four and won the Munster Under 13 title in Lahinch last November.  Cassidy is the latest in a line of prodigious young Kinsale golfers that started with the likes of John Murphy, Cathal Butler and Gary Ward.  His inclusion in the Pro Shop Challenge team will certainly put it up to the professionals.  This year’s event has been moved to August to facilitate the busy amateur calendar.  As a Walker Cup squad member, and an Irish international, Murphy will be travelling for much of the next three months.  Cassidy too has a busy summer schedule which includes Boys Championships all over Ireland, international events, and the Boys interprovincials.  While there are many local businesses and members sponsoring and supporting the event, there are a few important sponsors who are back on board from last year.  Footjoy will once again be supplying apparel for the players.  Word has it that the pros won the best dressed award last year but it was a scant consolation for the five shot drubbing they suffered in the match.  Whatever the result there is sure to be a festival atmosphere, with plenty of fun and banter in Kinsale Golf Club on the day, which will also be John Murphy’s final appearance in Ireland before heading back to start his final year in college in the Lousiville, Kentucky.

The course in Kinsale has also been in great condition, as well as hosting the South Munster section of the AIG Barton Shield in July, preparations are currently underway for the Senior Scratch Cup.  The scratch cup takes place at the end of this month, and the 36 hole event is sure to be a sell-out.  A top class purse is on offer and bookings can be made through the pro-shop.  The scratch cup is being sponsored by ODG Advisory.  With John Murphy unlikely to be available, the local favourites will include Gary Ward, Cathal Butler, Mark Healy and Eric Rumley.  With the Barton Shield taking place just a few weeks after the scratch cup, a large turnout is expected.