Clare golfers (left to right) Keelan Hartigan (aged 10), Seamus McCaul (10) and Eoin Magill (8) step out for a game. Irish golf would have a bleak future without new blood which is why some chartered accountants and a retired soldier deserve some credit for their services to the game.

This week, Haydon Chartered Accountants annouced they would again sponsor the Primary Schools Cup , having first initiated the programme in partnership with Castle Golf Club in 2004.  

Run by Junior Golf Ireland on behalf of Golfing Union of Ireland’s Leinster Branch and the Irish Ladies Golf Union, features competition at at Delgany, Rosslare and Black Bush, as well as its original home of the Castle, which is celebrating its centenary this season.

The Cup finals held at the aforementioned venues are the culmination of a season of golf for primary aged children in these areas.

The programme starts with “taster sessions” provided by Junior Golf Ireland, followed by teacher training and school based sessions where children are given the opportunity to learn the basics and have some fun.  

Pupils are then linked to the local golf facility where they receive coaching from a PGA Professional.  A visit to the local club is arranged that gives the children to explore the opportunity of joining a club.

For the final days, schools may enter a team of four boys and a team of four girls at one of the following venues:

  • Monday 13th May – Rosslare
  • Monday 20th May – Delgany
  • Monday 27th May – Castle
  • Monday 10th June – Black Bush

There are also ‘Scramble Days’ - a competition for beginners, based on fun and maximum participation, providing many with their first taste of competitive golf and giving pupils a chance to try out their new golf skills.

Pictured at the launch of the 9th annual Castle Schools Cup series sponsored by Haydon Chartered Accountants (from left) Hilary Haydon (sponsor), Anne O’Sullivan (Irish Ladies Golf Union), John Ferriter (Leinster Golf, GUI), Rory Leonard (Junior Golf Ireland) and Michael Bollard (Captain, Castle Golf Club). Picture by Pat CashmanCommenting on the programme, Hilary Haydon of Haydon Chartered Accountants said: “We wish Junior Golf Ireland continued success with the programme which not only teaches school children the basic skills of golf but also focuses on the development of other essential character building aspects including self confidence, team spirit, integrity and sportsmanship.”

If you don’t live in Leinster, you should check out Junior Golf Tour Ireland, which is run by 49-year old retired solider Brendan Magill with events in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.

“My work with East Clare Golf Club as their junior officer over the past ten years allowed me to see at grass roots level just what was on offer to the juniors,’ Brendan explains.  “And being passionate about providing juniors with great  golfing and indeed life experiences I founded the JGTI.”

Some highlights of what has been achieved to date include:

Clare County Championships for Under 12, 14, 16 and 18; the Limerick County Junior League (six clubs involved); Tipperary County League; Inter County League Shield (Winning club from each county League); Inter County Invitation Trophy; Junior Golf website; Junior Coaching for 5-9 year olds at East Clare (East Clare Cubs); Two Junior girls aged 15 and 16 were selected to play interprovincial golf in 2011 and 2012; A number of Junior boys aged 15 and under have handicaps between 2 to 6; Junior Golf Camps at East Clare totaling 170 juniors in 2011.

“While much has been achieved so far, I continue to promote the junior tour and expand its reach to even more juniors throughout Ireland,” Brendan adds.

“My aim is to provide juniors across Ireland with competitions and opportunities to meet other juniors, have fun most importantly and challenge each other to increase their golf skill and athletic levels.

“Growth will be achieved this year through an All Ireland Tour and a Masters Final played on courses measured to their age and golf ability.

“At present there are three planned events scheduled to take place in Clare, Cork and Kerry. (See test website for details)”

Brendan adds: “Young golfers will gain strength, quickness, speed, agility, balance and confidence. Most importantly, they will have a great time doing all of it, and as they progress to each new level they are rewarded with a hat with a colour which will identify their ability level. 

“To support this development, the skills of PGA professionals have been called upon.  Wayne O’Callaghan is PGA professional at Fernhill golf Club and director of JGTI training for the southern region.

“Over the last two years, Wayne has successfully upgraded his golf teaching qualifications by qualifying as a level three certified TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) coach. 

“Along with Paul Grey, PGA professional and Club Secretary Manager at Holywood golf club, also level three TPI certified, he has joined JGTI as director of Coaching for the Northern region.

“Over the coming weeks Paul and Wayne will be delivering seminars to fellow PGA professionals in the coaching methods and best practices of Junior Golf Tour coaching pathway, for more information on these seminars contact either Paul or Wayne at

The junior tour provides its members with a web base platform to enter competitions, input and view their competition results, as well as being able to sign up and attend a series of coaching days or summer camps run by JGTI appointed coaches.   Part of the coaching is to complete a series of off course and on course game like practice drills and the site provides age and ability appropriate, on course golf Stats tools and a rules of the game quiz, which on successful completion the site will reward the junior golfer with credits towards their next hat level assessment.