Monkstown set for Bumper Season

Looking back down the 18th fairway from the clubhouse in Monkstown. (Niall O’Shea)

It isn’t the year that any captain or committee would have wanted, but that doesn’t just apply to golf this year.  Despite the lockdown and the phased schedule of re-opening, golf courses and clubs are now fully open following the introduction of phase three earlier this week.  While it’s still far from normal, Monkstown is getting back to business, has added over 50 new members and has a large membership looking forward to the second half of the year.  Monkstown Captain Shane Horgan is delighted that the summer season is finally underway.  It was a very different first half of the year for the Captain as he explained.  “Strange is a pretty good word for it, though in some of my weaker moments over the last few months I might have been tempted to describe it differently from time to time” said Shane.  “I fully expected to face some challenges during my year of office, but I anticipated that those challenges would be broadly consistent with things that had happened in previous years, and so you’d have some type of roadmap to guide you.  But of course, there isn’t a roadmap for the unique and unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19.”

Monkstown’s Shane Horgan returning to play after the lockdown, pictured with Club Professional Cian McNamara.

Being Captain of a busy members club brings its own responsibilities, but with a strong leadership team Monkstown has hit the ground running.  “It’s been full on” explained Horgan.  “From co-ordinating the closure of the club and course at the beginning of the lockdown, to ensuring the maintenance of the course during that period, to planning for and implementing the return to golf and now getting back competitions and opening the clubhouse & restaurant etc.  It’s been a huge learning experience for me as well though and perhaps the biggest lesson that I’ve taken from it is it’s really critical that you have a great team around you.  I’ve been hugely fortunate in that respect, with the likes of our President Joe Doyle, Captain of the Ladies Club Sue McGuire, Chairman Gavin O’Neill, Professional Cian McNamara, General Manager Brian Hurley, Head Greenkeeper Martin Travers, all the club staff, everyone involved on the various committees, volunteers along with the membership as a whole.  Everyone has really contributed to a great team effort and in facing a crisis such as this, I couldn’t have wished for a better group of people to be working with.”

Playing off a low mark of one, he featured on many Monkstown Senior Cup and Barton Shield teams.  While club honours eluded him, he won several senior scratch cups as well and he also won national honours with an Irish Universities Championship title in 1993.  While he became a top golfer early on, the family history was on the rugby pitch.  Shane’s Dad Anthony was on the Munster team that beat Australia in 1967 and won seven Munster Senior Cups with Cork Constitution.  Shane and the club members are looking forward to the return of the GUI Cups and Shields competitions later this month.  While the formats and dates have changed, it does mean that the four major competitions will be held this summer.  “We voted in favour of participating in each of the events in the recent GUI survey and we’re delighted that the GUI has decided to run the AIG Senior Cup, AIG Junior Cup, AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield, AIG Pierce Purcell Shield and Boys Inter-club competitions.  I have always enjoyed representing Monkstown Golf in the national competitions, and one of the most important objectives for me during my year of office was to see us perform competitively in them.  We assembled a great group of team managers and enthusiastic panels and were getting ourselves ready before Covid-19 hit.  So to see all that good work go to waste would have been really disappointing.  I’m thrilled that we’ll see some competitive inter-club golf in these competitions in the coming weeks.  The style of matches will obviously be different with the home & away format being used, but we’ll all have to adapt to that”

Just like the GUI schedule, the club calendar has also see some dramatic changes, and this has meant several revisions for all clubs including Monkstown.  “We recently formed a group to look at the major competitions we need to play during the year and have re-scheduled dates for these over the coming months.  The Captain’s Prize in Monkstown is typically played over two days in early June, so clearly we weren’t able to hold it as scheduled.”  Shane’s Captain’s prize will now take place on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th August.  The President’s Prize (Joe Doyle) is scheduled for 14th & 15th August and the Captain of the Ladies Club (Sue McGuire) has her prize scheduled for 5th September.”  Visitors too should have a few chances to play Monkstown this year.  While the scratch cups are off, invitations and opens will be restarting soon according to Shane: “We had intended to run Senior, Junior and Intermediate Scratch Cups this year, but obviously they had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.  At this stage, I think it’s unlikely we’ll be able to re-schedule these in the remainder of the year, so we’re probably looking to 2021 for them.  We will be running plenty of invitation events between now and the year end.  We ran a very successful open singles on Fridays last year which was open to men and ladies – we’re looking forward to re-starting these again in July and would encourage visitors to enter – with the condition of the course, you’ll be in for a treat.”