Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy Returns

Thomas Hughes (Fota Island), 2022 Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy winner.

The Muskerry Junior Scratch returns later this month with the two day qualifier.  The event usually marks the start of the competitive season in Cork and over 300 golfers are expected to play over the two days.  32 golfers will qualify from each day, and they will then go forward to the match play stage in Muskerry which will be held over Easter.  Starting on Good Friday, six rounds of match play will follow over three days with the two finalists playing the sixth round on East Sunday afternoon.  The handicap range for entries is 2.5 – 10.5 and entries can be made online.  The event is again sponsored by Ryan’s SuperValu who came on board for the first time in 2021.  Liam Ryan has supported many Cork clubs over the past few years, and Ryans are also title sponsors of the Munster Strokeplay in Cork Golf Club.

The competition is unique in Ireland and has been running since 1970, and the winners trophy dates back to the original staging over 40 years ago.  Fota Island’s Thomas Hughes was the 202 winner, continuing a positive trend of winners from Fota.  The 18/64 format has proved popular over a number of decades with golfers entering year after year.  There have been many famous winners and many dramatic finals.  Eoghan O’Connell, Niall Turner and Morgan O’Donovan were among the winner to turn pro while Sean Duggan from Castlemartyr and Mitchelstown’s Sean Leonard were among the youngest winners.

Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy (Matchplay) Winners

In 2019 the final involved a father and son.  David Howard managed the defeat his dad John in a tense family affair involving the two Fota Island Members.  In over 40 years only three golfers have won it on more than one occasion.  Bantry’s Donal McCarthy won the trophy on three occasions in the 80’s and he was the only player to win back to back, in 1984 & 1985.  Although the trophy has plenty of Muskerry names, Ger O’Shea, Liam Harte and John McSweeney are the only members of the home club to win twice.  Mitchelstown’s Clem Leonard also won twice in 2010 and 2012, and in 2016 his nephew Sean Leonard continued the Leonard family’s success in Muskerry.  The host club have tasted lots of success in the competition, winning twenty times over the 42 years

Muskerry Golf Club
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Like many other clubs, Muskerry have used the off-season to carry out some development work.  Tony McGrath is General Manager in Muskerry and he’s really looking forward to the season.  “Yes we have been doing quite a lot of work on the course.  We have completed new buggy paths have completed them with a new yellow stone and all holes are accessible with buggies now.  We have planned to carry out extensive drainage work on two greens, extensive re-planting programme on the 16th with 850 trees and a new sleeper bed on the 14th.”

Muskerry also has a number of membership options that are currently open.  “We have a special rate for under 35s and we have a 3 year discount. We also have a get into golf offer.”  The under 35’s offer is particularly attractive.  The first year rate is €907 inclusive of levies and charges and that rises by €100 in the second and third year.  Student membership is €491 and under 18 membership ranges from €150 to €206.  Muskerry will also be taking part in the very popular ladies Get into Golf Programme which provides beginners with access to lessons for a six week period.  They also have a great juvenile academy which is led by PGA Professional Fred Twomey.

It will be a busy summer season for Muskerry, in addition to the weekly members competitions the club will also start the popular weekly O’Crualaoi Open singles in April with the series running through to the final in September.  The Senior Scratch Cup takes place in May and the club will host the Women’s Junior Cup area final in July.

The Easter date has normally marked the start of the season for Cork golfers and this year is no different with scratch cups and open singles filling the calendars in many clubs from mid-April onwards.  It also marks the opening of the national calendar with the West of Ireland taking place on Co Sligo Golf Club this weekend also.  It looks like being a busy time for clubs also with the first rounds of the inter-club events taking place over the coming weeks.   April looks like being a busy month with scratch cups taking place in Fermoy and Lee Valley.  Monkstown will host the Women’s Senior and Junior opens over three days after Easter and they will also host the Mercy Cancel Appeal golf classic later in the month