Revolution! GUI announces major changes to the championships
The Glashedy links at Ballyliffin will host the Irish Amateur Close from August 16-20.

The Glashedy links at Ballyliffin will host the Irish Amateur Close from August 16-20.

Who says the GUI doesn’t listen to the players or the clubs that host the big events? On Friday evening — a poor time to dump significant news about our six amateur “majors” — the Golfing Union Ireland announced some badly needed changes.

They affect qualification criteria for the four provincial championships and the Irish Amateur Open and Irish Amateur Close and the nuts and bolts of the running of those events. moving away from handicap-centric qualifying criteria, which was arguably a major cause of abuse of the handicapping system.

A top-four finish at any one of Ireland’s six ‘majors’ will guarantee that player’s place in the field for the next six. That means that there will be no repeat of last year, for example, when 2014 South of Ireland champion Stuart Bleakley failed to get a place in the 2015 West of Ireland field on his handicap and made an unsuccessful bid to make it via the qualifier.

Under the new rules, a player who reaches the semi-final stage of the West of Ireland, North of Ireland, South of Ireland or Irish Amateur Close Championship, or who finishes in the top-four (including ties) in the East of Ireland or Irish Amateur Open Championship, will get an exemption into the next playing of all six Championships that close for entries following this performance.

The winner of the Irish Youths, Leinster Youths, Munster Youths and Ulster Youths Championships will also receive an exemption along these lines for the six ‘majors’.

In addition, starting with the Irish Amateur Open Championship in May, WAGR rankings will be used to help determine the make-up of the field in these Championships, in another move that will take some of the emphasis away from player handicaps when it comes to deciding the starting lists.

Other significant changes to the rules of Union and Provincial Championships include a reduction in the age limit for Mid-Amateur Championships to 30, and a reduction in the age limit of the Irish Seniors Close Championship to 50. Both changes reflect the changing face of amateur golf with the majors now dominated by players under 25.

There are a number of significant format changes to events, including the provision of a playoff for all players tied for the last place in the match play draw of the Irish Amateur Close Championship, and for the draw for match play to be based entirely on stroke play scores. This change will also apply to the West of Ireland Championship at the end of March.

This news is sure to please those who annually decry the seeding, or perceived seedings, of draws in some of the provincial majors and the arbitrary nature of the countback when weather can play a significant part in the process.

According to the GUI, the changes follow “an in-depth review of Championships, called for by the Union’s new Strategy, adopted in May 2015 after a lengthy consultation process.”

Pat Finn, named last year as the new CEO of the Golfing Union of Ireland, explained: “This suite of changes that are being introduced follow consideration of feedback from players, clubs and other stakeholders.

“Throughout the consultation process that led to its Strategic Plan last year, the Union has received very positive feedback on the way national and provincial events are organised and administered, but this brings an onus to continue to review things and improve.”

GUI Fixtures 2016


10-13: Portuguese Amateur Open Championship (Montado)          

23rd-26th: European Nations Championship (Sotogrande)



2nd-6th: Spanish Amateur Open Championship (Sevilla)    

16th-18th: Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy (Turkey)   

23rd-29th: West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship (Co Sligo)           

30th-31st: Wales Boys v Ireland Boys (Cardigan)

31st: Connacht Under 14 Boys Amateur Open Championship (Strandhill)

30th Mar-1st Apr: Four Nations (Under 16) Development Matches (Hilton Templepatrick)

30th Mar-1st Apr: Munster Youths' Amateur Open Championship (Monkstown)

30th Mar-1st Apr: Ulster Under 16 Boys Close Championship (Ardglass)



4th-9th: Scottish Boys Amateur Open Championship (Murcar Links)

13th-14th: Peter McEvoy Trophy (Copt Heath)

19th: Irish Schools Senior Championship (Athlone)

20th: Irish Schools Junior Championship (Athlone)  

29th Apr – 1st May: Lytham Trophy (Royal Lytham & St Annes)    

29th Apr – 1st May: Fairhaven Trophy (Fairhaven)

29th Apr – 1st May: Munster Stroke Play Championship (Cork)



1ST: Ulster Scratch Foursomes Open Championship (Malone)      

5th-8th: Irish Amateur Open Championship (Royal Dublin)  

10th-11th: Munster Seniors Amateur Open Championship (Tramore)

17th: Brabazon Trophy Qualifiers (Hadley Wood & Fulford)

18th-20th: Irish Seniors’ Amateur Open Championship (Ardee)

20th-22nd: French Amateur Open Championship (Chantilly)           

20th-22nd: Welsh Amateur Open Championship (Royal St Davids)

19th-22nd: Irish Open (K Club)          

27th-29th: Scottish Amateur Open Championship (Gullane No.1)   

28th-29th: Welsh Youths Amateur Open (Whitechurch)       

27th May-1st Jun: NCAA Division 1 Finals (Eugene, Oregon)



2nd-4th: European Mid Amateur Championship (Czech Republic)  

3rd-5th: St. Andrews Links Trophy (St Andrews)      

4th-6th: East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship (Co. Louth)  

7th-8th: Connacht Seniors’ Amateur Open Championship (Roscommon)

9th-11th: European Seniors Individual Championship (Spain)

11th-12th: Connacht Stroke Play Championship (Athlone)  

13th-15th: Leinster Youths' Amateur Open Championship (Esker Hills)

13th-18th: The Amateur Championship (Pyle & Kenfig)       

18th-19th: Irish Mid-Amateur Open Championship (Limerick)         

21st-22nd: Leinster Seniors’ Amateur Open Championship (Glasson)        

21st-23rd: Leinster Boys’ Amateur Open Championship (Mullingar)

24th: Connacht Boys Under 16 Open Championship (Ballinasloe)  

22nd-25th: Brabazon Trophy (The London Club)      

23rd-25th: Palmer Cup (Formby)      

29th: Munster Under 16 Boys Open Championship (Nenagh)         

28th Jun-1st Jul: Irish Boys Amateur Open Championship (Castle)



1st: Ulster Under 14 Boys Open Qualifier (Foyle)

1st-3rd: English Mid-Amateur Open Championship (Brokenhurst Manor)   

4th: Leinster Under 16 Open Championship (Beaverstown)

4th-6th: Interprovincial Championship (Fota Island)  

5th-7th: Ulster Under 14 Boys Amateur Close Championship (Greenacres)

5th-7th: Connacht Boys Amateur Open Championship (Galway)

5th-7th: Scottish U16 Boys Championship (West Lothian)

5th-9th: European Boys’ Team Championship (Diamond GC, Austria)

5th-9th: European Team Championship (Chantilly, France)

6th-8th: Irish Seniors Close Championship (Tralee)              

8th: Leinster Under 14 Boys Amateur Open Championship (Balcarrick)

11th: Leinster Under 16 Boys Close Championship (Ashbourne)     

11th-13th: Junior Open Championship (Kilmarnock-Barassie)        

12th-14th: McGregor Trophy (Royal Ashdown Forest)        

11th-15th: North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship (Royal Portrush)

13th-15th: Munster Boys’ Amateur Open Championship (Dromoland)

14th-17th: The Open Championship (Royal Troon)  

19th: Munster U13 Boys Close Qualifier (East Cork)

19th: Connacht Junior Close Qualifiers (Castle Dargan & Cregmore Park)

20th: Munster U13 Boys Close Qualifier (Adare Manor)

20th-21st: Boys (U14) Interprovincial Championship (Tullamore)

20th-22nd: Boys (U18) Interprovincial Championship (Tullamore)

20th-24th: South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship (Lahinch)           

21st-22nd: Boys (U16) Interprovincial Championship (Tullamore)   

21st-22nd: St Andrews Trophy (Princes)      

21st-23rd: European Young Masters (Switzerland)  

21st-24th: Senior British Open (Carnoustie)              

23rd-24th: Ulster Mid-Amateur Open Championship (Malone)        

25th: Ulster Under 14 Open Qualifier (Blackwood)

26th-28th: Ulster Boys’ Amateur Open Championship (Bangor)

29th: Irish Boys Under 14 Amateur Open Championship (Lurgan)



2nd-4th: Boys’ Home Internationals (Ballyliffin-Glashedy)

2nd-4th: Reid Trophy (Porters Park)

2nd-4th: Ulster Youths' Amateur Open Championship (Royal Belfast)        

3rd-5th: British Seniors Amateur Championship (Formby)               

3rd-6th: International European Amateur Championship (Estonia)

4th: Munster U15/U17 Boys close Championship (Carrick-on-Suir)

5th-6th: Leinster Mid-Amateur Open Championship (Carlow)          

8th: Connacht Junior Close Finals (Claremorris)      

8th-9th: Scottish U14 Boys Championship (Craigielaw)

10th-12th: Home Internationals (Nairn)         

11th: Ulster Under 16 Boys Open Championship (Donaghadee)     

11th: Leinster Under 13 Boys Series Finals (Kilcock)

9th-14th:- Boys Amateur Championship (Muirfield & Renaissance)

11th-14th: Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro)

15th-21st: US Amateur Championship (Oakland Hills)         

16th: Junior Foursomes (National Final) (Clonmel)

16th-20th: Irish Amateur Close Championship (Ballyliffin - Glashedy)         

17th-19th: Irish U16 Boys’ Open Championship (Clonmel)  

18th: Munster U14 Boys Amateur Open Champioship (Tipperary)

18th-19th: Ulster Seniors Amateur Open Championship (Castlerock)                     

22nd: Ulster Under 14 Boys Amateur Open Championship (Dunmurry)

23rd: Fred Daly (National Final) (Galway)

24th-26th: Irish Youths Amateur Open Championship (Galway)      

25th-27th: Junior Players Championship (Sawgrass)

26th-27th: Jacques Leglise Trophy (Princes)

30th Aug-1st Sep: Italian U16 (Biella)

30th Aug-3rd Sep: European Seniors Team Championship (Slovenia)       



2nd-3rd: Irish Mixed Foursomes (National Final) (Shandon Park)   

2nd-3rd: Munster Mid Amateur Championship (Limerick)    

13th-15th: Seniors Home Internationals (Machynys)            

14th-17th Sep: Cups & Shields (National Finals) (Carton House)    

14th-17th Sep: European Boys Team Championship Division 2 (Czech Republic)

21st-22nd: Munster Veterans Amateur Open Championship (Ring of Kerry)          

21st-24th: World Amateur Team Championship (Mexico)   

24th-25th: Connacht Mid Amateur Championship (Athenry)

26th-27th: Ryder Cup Junior Match (Minnesota)

30th Sep-2nd Oct: Ryder Cup (Hazeltine, Minnesota)



8th-9th: Ireland U16 v England U16 (Castletown Links, Isle of Man)           

20th-22nd: European Club Cup Trophy (Crete)