The Changing Face of Cork Golf Club

The limestone walls and Cork harbour feature prominently at Cork Golf Club.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

There’s a change taking place on the course in Cork Golf Club, and in some senses it could be viewed as going back to the origins of the course.  Course Superintendent Simon O’Hara and the course team have set about clearing gorse, trees, shrubs and vegetation to reveal stunning views of the water and the quarry.  The changes don’t affect the tees, fairways or greens, but the vista around the quarry holes has changed and the new views may give golfers a glimpse into the course as it might have looked early in the last century.  This is the latest series of changes that Simon O’Hara has brought to Little Island.  O’Hara moved from Fota Island to Cork around 18 months ago, and soon after he arrived he started to make a few changes.  He reinstated the practice chipping green which is adjacent to the 18th fairway and last spring he oversaw the removal of the large putting green and replacing it with a brand new one.  While the course Continue reading


Golfing Bodies support Clubs

​​It should have been a breakthrough year for golfing bodies in Ireland but like so many other sports the goalposts have moved.  Both the GUI (Men) and ILGU (Ladies) recently held their final Annual General Meetings, and it looked like the biggest item on the agenda for 2020 was the transition to Golf Ireland, the new single governing body for the amateur game in Ireland.  Instead, both bodies along with the Confederation of Golf in Ireland.  The national bodies have directly engaged at the highest level with government agencies to establish recovery support measures.  As part of their efforts to support golfers and clubs, a club survey will follow next week to help Unions identify the economic impact on the sport and the GUI, ILGU & CGI hope to outline immediate supports available.  In a statement issued to all clubs over the weekend the Unions acknowledge the cha Continue reading

Michael Collins, Mallow Driving Range

Michael Collins pictured at his base in Mallow Golf Range in Copstown. Pic: Niall O’Shea

In some circles he might be known as the coach to Amateur Champions James Sugrue, but there’s a lot more to PGA Professional Michael Collins than just his star pupil.  Collins has spent close to 20 years working in the industry.  Firstly he served his time as a trainee before going on to become a leading player in the Irish Region, and more recently he has become one of the few full time teaching professionals in the region.  Over the past two decades Michael Collins has built a strong reputation as a leading coach, working with juniors and beginners in addition to some of the top elite amateurs in the game.  After an impressive amateur spell, Collins took to the paid ranks after completing a degree in UCC.  From there he never looked Continue reading

Stephen Celebrates 10 years in Douglas

Douglas Professional Stephen Hayes who recently celebrated 10 years in Douglas Golf Club. Picture: Niall O’Shea

Stephen Hayes celebrated ten years in Douglas Golf Club earlier this month, and it was a very happy milestone for the PGA Professional.  Having played his junior golf with Lee Valley, Hayes trained under Bandon’s Paddy O’Boyle and then worked with Brendan McDaid in Rathsallagh.  10 years ago he made the move to Douglas after the retirement of Gary Nicholson, and it’s been an exciting decade.  “The time is after flying by with many things both personal and business wise filled into that time” said Hayes. It’s great to have trained two PGA Professionals in that time period and Shane currently doing his training with us. I also got married, had two kids and bought a house!”  Hayes was a big hit with the members from the start, fitting in nicely into the busy club environment.

Stephen Hayes demonstrates the SAM Puttlab technology in his performance studio in Douglas Golf Club.  Pic: Niall O’Shea

“The members gave us a great welcome right from the start and they have been very loyal and supportive over the past 10 years.  The biggest change has been the number of new members that have come into the club over the past five years.  The club is full of activity and there is a real buzz around the club with people using the clubhouse, course and practice facilities.”  Being a club professional generally means that you’re also training the next generation, and Hayes has fulfilled that after successfully training Brian O’Donovan and Davey Barry. Brian is currently teaching at the Mission Hills golf resort in China while Davey Barry recently made the move to Ballyneety Golf Centre in Limerick.

As well as managing the shop, Stephen also employs staff to cover 100 hour per week rota.  “Staffing is very important” said Stephen.  “I have been very lucky to have had great assistant PGA Professionals working with us.  Both Brian and Davey have both moved on over that time and are doing well for themselves in their roles as teaching Professionals.  It was great to see Shane win assistant of the year for Year One recently.  Shane works very hard and has been a great addition to the team over the past year and half. It’s also great to have Clodagh Coughlan working with us. Clodagh used come up to our Juvenile girls coaching when I started in Douglas first. It has been great to see her develop her golf game in that time and represent Ireland this year in the South American Golf Championship in January and also becoming the Juvenile Girls officer in Douglas Golf Club.”  While the pro shop is often the centre of the off course activities, Stephen says Douglas is also benefitting from the substantial investment in their new practice facilities.  “The retail side of the business is the centre of the business but we are lucky to have great practice facilities in the club so teaching is important part the business.  We run a Winter training program for our Juvenile Members over the winter months and also through the summer months.  It’s important that members get the opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals from early stage along with their Fundamental Movement Skills.  As Juvenile members progress more specialist areas are included in their programs including golf fitness. Irish International Peter O’Keeffe carries out training programs for our Juveniles and is a great role model for our Junior Golfers.”  Working with club members and teams is a big part of the job for Stephen and in the past ten years he’s been involved with several successful teams that have brought back pennants to the club.

Douglas Club Pro Stephen Hayes pictured in the  Performance Centre in Douglas Golf Club.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

“We also work with our teams in the run up to our inter-club competitions.  This is always very enjoyable and there is always a great buzz around the teams during this time.  We have been very lucky to be involved in some successful team over our ten years   In 2011 our Ladies Senior Cup team won the All-Ireland in Malone Golf Club.  In 2015 our Fred Daly team won Munster Pennant and the following year our Junior Cup team won the Munster pennant.  In 2018 our Ladies team won the All Ireland final in Knightsbrook. Along with the team competitions it also great to see individual success.  Whether that’s a player winning a weekly singles, monthly medal, captains prize or golfer of the year.  One of the highlights individually over that time was seeing Sara Byrne win the Irish Ladies Close Championship in 2018.”  Earlier this year Stephen and a few Cork professionals attended the PGA show in Florida.  While the trip was a bit of a busman’s holiday, it did give them opportunity so see some top coaches in action, and get a first look at the new technology and developments that will shape the game over the next 12 months.  It was also a learning event for Stephen as he took in the latest changes.

“It was great to get to the PGA Show in Orlando in January. There is always a great buzz at this event and it is a great opportunity to see the latest golf products, teaching aids and technology on offer.  The biggest take out for me from the show was the use of technology in teaching but more importantly in our members golf experience.  With the weather so poor over winter months it is great to have a facility where members can practice indoors in Trackman studio where they can just play golf with their friends in a nice warm dry environment, check their distances or simply test themselves with the Trackman combine test.”

Masters Disappointment for Sugrue

James Sugrue pictured at home in Mallow with his invitation to the 2020 Masters Tournament.

The most disappointed golfer in Cork must have been James Sugrue.  The Mallow man was preparing for his trip to Augusta and on Friday it was confirmed that the Masters would be postponed.  Sugrue was on the BBC on Friday evening and like all other golfer fans you could sense his disappointment after the announcement was made.  A group of around twenty friends and family were planning to travel to the Masters and like many others they’re now waiting for the new date to be announced.  For Sugrue the postponement means that the plans for the season may change.  Sugrue had indicated that he’s probably turn professional in the summer after the US Open but those plans may have to change if he needs to retain his amateur status for a deferred Masters.  The same may apply to the

John Murphy

John Murphy was another golfer to be affected by the cancellation of competitions.  On Friday the NCAA announced the suspension of all college sports, effectively meaning that Murphy’s Louisville college career was over.  Murphy has been in a rich vein of form and saw his ranking rise to inside the top 50 in Division One stats.  Louisville had also risen to 14th in the national rankings meaning that a good post-season performance was within reach.  With all golf suspended for the remainder pf the season, Murphy now has a few more weeks of online lectures before he takes his finals.  Kinsale teammate Mark Healy is in a similar position, although he can return for another year in Tusculum Tennessee.  Murphy on the other hand is a senior and this was his final year in Kentucky.  He did put the brightside out on Monday when he tweeted a video hurling in the Cardinal Stadium football pitch.  The tweet went viral and brought a smile to many faces at a time when there was little to smile about.

Like most other sports golf has come to a standstill, and this week several clubs in Cork decided to close completely in light of the recent government advice.  Many clubs continued to hold club competitions over the weekend while adhering to the new guidelines on social distancing.  Following the weekend and the closure of pubs, there was a marked change with several courses closing.  Some clubs have cancelled club competitions but have allowed members to play.  Golfers were asked to observe the now usual norms of social distancing and not to engage in any handshakes.  Flags were removed from some courses with semi-permanent holes being cut in the middle of the greens.  Most clubhouses are now closed in line with the recommendations that came out on Sunday evening.  The likelihood of inter-club events and championships taking place in the next few months are also in doubt .

Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup 2020

Tiarnan McLarnon, winner of the 2019 Boylesports Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup. Pic: Niall O’Shea

Lee Valley have just launched their Senior Scratch Cup, the event is taking place in April and is again sponsored by Boylesports.  The Irish firm will again sponsor the Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup which takes place on the 25th & 26th April.  The continued support from Boylesports means the club can again stage a top class event with a generous prize fund in place.  The 54 hole event has become one of the biggest three round events in the country.  2019 winner Tiarnan McLarnon will be back to defend his title, the Irish International had a great season after his win in Cork last year and he’s be fancied to continue his great run of form in Lee Valley.  Tournament Director Vincent Continue reading

Muskerry Ford Junior Scratch Trophy

David Howard (Fota Island) in action at the Ford Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy last year.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Muskerry are gearing up for their first big event of the season, the Ford Junior Scratch Trophy.   Up to three hundred golfers will take part in the two qualifying days which take place on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of March.  The top 64 qualifiers from the two days will win a place in the matchplay draw.  From there the qualifiers will face up six rounds of matchplay golf.  Starting on Good Friday, three days of competitive golf will produce a worthy winner on Easter Sunday.  It’s a unique competition in Irish golf and provides handicap golfers a great opportunity to play in a matchplay tournament.  A full timesheet is expected for both qualifying days and bookings can be made through the proshop.  Last year’s competition was pretty unique, a Continue reading

Boylesports backing Lee Valley Again

Lee Valley Scratch_Cup_A3 2020Boylesports will continue their association with Lee Valley into 2020 as they remain a key sponsor for the club.  The Irish firm will again sponsor the Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup which takes place on the 25th & 26th April.  The continued support from Boylesports means the club can again stage a top class event with a generous prize fund in place.  The 54 hole event has become one of the biggest three round events in the country.  2019 winner Tiarnan McLarnon will be back to defend his title, the Irish International had a great season after his win in Cork last year and he’s be fancied to continue his great run of form in Lee Valley.  Tournament Director Vincent Drinan is busy taking bookings at the moment and anyone interested in playing should contact him on email ( or WhatsApp (087 9966332).  The closing date for entries is 15th April and the field is limited.

Onsite accommodation, a great clubhouse atmosphere and a great championship course all combine to make the Lee Valley Scratch Cup a great early season event.  Last year McLarnon broke the run of Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty who won two in a row in 2017 and 2018.  A top Continue reading

Muskerry’s Golfing History

Muskerry’s 13th green. Pic: Niall O’Shea

Golf in Muskerry traces back to the late 1880’s but it wasn’t until 1907 that the current club was founded.  After just six weeks of work, the course designed and built by professional John McNamara was opened for play in May 1907.  Like many other clubs, proximity to a railway line was an essential prerequisite and the Coachford stop on the Muskerry tram line was close to the current 18th green.  The membership in Muskerry grew quickly and it was the quality of the course that attracted the growing membership.  The original course had five holes situated around the present front nine with another four holes across the road.  In fact anyone passing the entrance to Muskerry can still Continue reading