GUI rejuvenates Senior panel as teens do their own thing
Mallow's James Sugrue is now a member of the national senior panel. Picture: Thos Caffrey /

Mallow's James Sugrue is now a member of the national senior panel. Picture: Thos Caffrey /

Policemen might appear younger every year but the GUI's national senior panel is most certainly getting more youthful. Not only that, three Irish teenagers who are not even on the senior panel have decided to get more experience by entering next week's Alps Tour Q-School as amateurs.

Last season's 17-strong senior panel had an average age of 22.4 years but with Reeve Whitson (23), Rory McNamara (25) and Richie O'Donovan (24) all turning pro and Stephen Healy (25), Geoff Lenehan (27), Robbie Cannon (35) and Harry Diamond (30) all dropped, the 2015 panel averages 21.2 years.

Take out 28-year old Richard Bridges and 27-year old East of Ireland winner Colm Campbell and the average age drops to 20.3, which reflects the new trend in amateur golf — students and school-goers dominating the championships with working amateurs left to do their own thing until they turn their attention of the mid-amateur scene when they turn 35.

Reduced from 17 to 15 players, there are just three new additions to the senior panel with 17-year old Munster Youths champion James Sugrue from Mallow — he turns 18 next week — joined by 20-year old Irish Close champion John-Ross Galbraith and 18-year old British Boys runner-up Rowan Lester.

The Development panel features the likes of South of Ireland winner Stuart Bleakley, Naas' Conor O'Rourke and two players who are going to the Alps Tour Q-School next week — Killarney's Tommy O'Driscoll (18) and Athlone's Sean Doyle (16 last week). 

O'Driscoll and Carton House's David Carey (who is not on any panels) are exempt into the final stage having played in this year's European Boys Championship.

Both Carey and Doyle are following in the footsteps of O'Driscoll, who competed in the qualifying school in 2013 , making the Final Qualifying rounds. 

"It was a fantastic experience," O'Driscoll said. "Mixing it with pros albeit at a lower level gave me the confidence and inspiration to really look forward to my last year on the boys calendar. 

"Hopefully this year I can take it a step further. I would love to win a card even though I have no intention of turning pro. I would consider it if i reached Challenge Tour level but for the moment I need to play events in different countries and on different courses. 

"The Alps Tour holds events in more than five countries beginning in Egypt in February so it is a wonderful stepping stone."

As O'Driscoll points out, Edouard Espana played on the Alps Tour in 2013, winning his Challenge Tour card through the Top-5 and has now graduated to the European Tour for 2015.

"If you cant make it on Alps Tour after three years then you are probably wasting your time trying to get full tour status," he added. "The reality is that you are simply not good enough."

Having watched 16-year old Australian amateur phenomenon Ryan Ruffels play with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott recently, getting as much top class experience under your belt as possible can only help. 

Ireland's young amateurs possess some outstanding talent and dipping your toes into the deep end occasionally, as the three Irish teenagers are doing at the Alps Tour Q-School, proves that they're desperate to learn.

National Panel

  • Richard Bridges (Stackstown) Age 28
  • Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) Age 27
  • Robin Dawson (Faithlegg) Age 19
  • Paul Dunne (Greystones) Age 22
  • John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) Age 20
  • Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) Age 21
  • Jack Hume (Naas) Age 21
  • Gary Hurley (West Waterford) Age 21
  • Rowan Lester (Hermitage) Age 18
  • Paul McBride (The Island) Age 19
  • Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) Age 21
  • Gavin Moynihan (The Island) Age 20
  • Chris Selfridge (Moyola Park) Age 22
  • Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) Age 22
  • James Sugrue (Mallow) Age 18 on Dec 9

Development Panel

  • Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park)
  • David Brady (Co Sligo)
  • Sean Doyle (Athlone)
  • Matthew Fitzsimons (Ardglass)
  • Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo)
  • John Hickey (Cork)
  • Jamie Knipe (Royal Portrush)
  • Devin Morley (Oughterard)
  • Tommy O’Driscoll (Ring of Kerry)
  • Conor O’Rourke (Naas)
  • Gary Ward (Kinsale)

Boys Under 18

  • Cathal Butler (Kinsale)
  • Owen Crooks (Bushfoot)
  • Alan Fahy (Bray)
  • Rory Hill (Tralee)
  • Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush)
  • Kevin LeBlanc (The Island)
  • Eoin Leonard (Wentworth/Killiney)
  • Marc McKinstry (Cairndhu)
  • Thomas Mulligan ( L & B’town)
  • Marc Norton (Belvoir Park)
  • Conor Purcell (Portmarnock)
  • Rory Williamson (Holywood)

Boys Under 16

  • Reece Black (Cairndhu)
  • Charlie Dawson (Faithlegg)
  • Charlie Denvir (Milltown)
  • Sean Dowling (Beaverstown)
  • Sean Enright (Doneraile)
  • Jack Hearn (Tramore)
  • Allan Hill (Roscommon)
  • Jordan Logue (Hilton Templepatrick)
  • AJ McCabe (Malahide)
  • Jack Madden (Dungannon)
  • Mark Power (Kilkenny)
  • Cameron Raymond (Newlands)