Dunbar to give $14-a-night Crow's Nest a chance

Whether it’s the baroque elegance of Carton House or the slightly more spartan surroundings of the Crow’s Nest of Augusta National, Amateur champion Alan Dunbar is totally at ease and looking to the future with optimism. Picture courtesy Matt Browne/SportsfileBritish Amateur champion Alan Dunbar thought his place in the 2013 Masters was priceless. And it is.

But even though it turns out that it’s going to cost him $14 a day to stay in the famous Crow’s Nest at Augusta National, the 22-year old from Rathmore is happy to stay there for at least two days of what will be his final event before he can start playing for cash as a professional.

Managed by Chubby Chandler’s ISM stable thanks to a change in the Rules of Amateur Status in 2011, Dunbar said: “Augusta charge you $14 a day for your room and board but it’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience. You couldn’t put a price on a place in the Masters and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The amateur invitees get to stay in the attic dormitory at the world’s most exclusive club from April 8-14 and Dunbar is looking forward to following in the footsteps of Irish winners of the Amateur such as Joe Carr, Garth McGimpsey, Brian McElhinney and Michael Hoey as well as legends of the game such as Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

And while the Portrush native initially plans only to stay there the weekend before the Masters having taken on US Amateur champion Steven Fox in the traditional George Cup match at the Golf Club of Georgia the previous Friday, he’s not ruling out spending an entire week under the eves of the famous old clubhouse.

Alan Dunbar receives the 2012 Irish Golf Writers “Men’s Amateur of the Year” Award from Mark Fearon from sponsors Tipperary Crystal at Carton House last week. Picture courtesy Matt Browne/Sportsfile“I’ll stay at the Crow’s Nest the Saturday and Sunday before the Masters for sure and if it’s spot on I’ll stay the rest of the week,” he said. “I’ll definitely have a room at the ISM house if it doesn’t work out, so it’s all good.”

Dunbar revealed that he will turn professional straight after the Masters and confessed that he is not tempted to wait until after the US Open at Merion, for which he would have been exempt thanks to his win at Royal Troon.

“No, the road for me after what I achieved in the amateur game is going to be turning pro after the Masters,” he said at the Irish Golf Writers’ Awards in Carton House last week. “Hopefully I will get a few invites on the main tour before Augusta but I have no plans after that. I’m just really looking forward to this year.”

Back to full fitness after being struck down by a bug during last year’s World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey, Dunbar has been keeping sharp at the Fox Club in Florida under the watchful eye of former Irish tour player Eoghan O’Connell.

“I got sick in Turkey and that knocked me back for two months,” said Dunbar, who was physically incapable of playing anywhere near his best at the European Tour Q-School.

“I lost 5kg over four or five days in Turkey and I was lying in bed for four weeks before Stage Two of Q-School,” he explained. “The first shots I hit were a couple of days before I flew over to Spain for that and I was done after the first round. Even after that it was two or three weeks before I was back to 100 percent.

“I went to Florida before Christmas to build a bit of fitness and went back there again recently and got two good weeks of practice now and I have never hit it as well.”

Dunbar hopes to play practice rounds with “all the Irish guys” at Augusta, adding: “Obviously I’d like to play with Graeme as a fellow Rathmore man but there’s all the other guys too like Rory and Darren Clarke and hopefully Shane Lowry too.”