The members of UCC Staff GS recently celebrated their 40th anniversary, marking the milestone with a golf and a social event in Cork Golf Club. A large number of members attended the celebrations, on the course Willie Weir, Collette Finn and Barry O’Brien won the three-ball scramble while many more joined the group that evening to make the anniversary. As everyone enjoyed the celebrations, there was also a reflection on the early days of the society. A conversation between the late Eric Tully and Robert Mc Namara led to the establishment of the UCC Staff Golf Society, which was first registered with the GUI in 1979. McNamara was instrumental in contacting staff members, who he knew were golfers, and encouraging them to form an inaugural committee. He recalls meeting in Eric Tully’s office in The Lee Maltings. Eric chaired the meeting, Robert was secretary and they were joined by Gary Prendeville, Chris Synnott and Paddy O’Regan. An outing to Mallow was agreed upon and Robert assembled the prizes with twelve golfers taking part in the first event. The original twelve were Robert Mc Namara, Eric Tully, Gary Prendeville, Chris Synnott, Paddy O’Regan, Diarmuid McCarthy, Joe O’Mahony, Cyril Deasy, Fr. Sean McGann, Eoin Shorten, Conor O’Brien and Mr McCullagh. From the small outing to Mallow the society grew steadily, providing a welcome opportunity to play especially for those casual golfers who were not members of any club. It must be remembered that back in the 80’s the number of clubs was very limited and membership would not have been open in all of the courses. Society golf flourished through the 80’s, it could be said that the large numbers was one of the triggers behind the opening of many new courses in the 90’s. New courses meant new clubs, and the increase in the number of clubs had an impact on societies as golf was now more accessible and more affordable. That was a fundamental change to participation in the sport, and the traditional work or pub golf society suffered. There are now far fewer societies in operation, and the average number of members has also fallen. That said the UCC Staff society continued to maintain a strong membership, and a very active group with over 50 members attending most events.
Incoming Captain Stephen O’Brien is looking forward to another positive year for the society and he’s busy planning for the year ahead. “I am immensely proud to become Captain of the UCC Staff Golf Society for 2019-2020” said O’Brien. “This is a society with a strong reputation and established tradition that also seeks to be progressive in its promotion of the social and sporting benefits of golf. “There are two wonderful things about UCC’s Staff Golf Society. The first is that is inclusive – young and old, male and female, academic and non-academic staff, and experienced and inexperienced golfers all struggle and enjoy the game together. The second is that, while we all try to win, what matters more is decency, honesty and long-lasting friendships”.
With over 50 golfers playing in regular outings, that number swells to over seventy for the majors. Mark Rae won the 2019 Captain’s Prize, while the President’s Prize was won by Barry O’Brien. The Golf of the Year award went to Maurice Conway. This year the Society hopes to attract even more new members and invite even more retired members to reconnect with the Society. The Society is organizing as its first event of the year a social golf outing in Lee Valley Golf Club. This team Scramble event will be followed by a social gathering in the clubhouse. Alongside this opportunity to forge existing and new friendships, a special away day is planned for later in the season. The Society is keen to support local clubs in the Cork and Munster regions and thus extend its visibility and reach. Its Committee always appreciates the ongoing voluntary commitments of members, as well as the continual support of its generous sponsors and its golfing hosts. “It is especially fitting, at this time, to remember and celebrate the involvement of all its past and present members” added Stephen O’Brien. “From its inception in 1979, it continues to be one of the principal golf societies in Munster and everyone involved looks forward to many more years of strong growth and friendships. In looking forward, it is important to remind of past associations and achievements.”