Following a two-year experiment, the Irish Amateur Close Championship will revert to its traditional date and format at Connemara Golf Club next June.
The past two editions of the championship have been played in May using a 72-hole stroke play format as opposed to the traditional 36-hole stroke play qualifying followed by match play.
The experiment was designed to avoid clashes with the Brabazon Trophy or the British Amateur Championship and reduce the time demands on players by running the ‘Close’ over three days instead of five.
However, the GUI has decided that following consultation with a significant number of players, selectors and “other interested parties”, it will revert to the original date and format for the following reasons:
- The all-stroke play format was less competitive than the previous format as far fewer players felt they had a chance of winning over four rounds.
- With the new stroke play format, the Union did not have a match play element to any of its national championships.
- The rescheduling of the event in May had led to a more congested fixture schedule in that month with the Irish Amateur Open taking place two weeks before and the East of Ireland getting underway less than a week after the conclusion of the Close.
The 2013 Irish Amateur Close Championship will take place at its scheduled venue of Connemara from Saturday June 8 to Wednesday June 12, with stroke play qualifying on Saturday and Sunday and then Match Play rounds of 64, 32, 16, 8, 4 and 2 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Debate amongsit players has been heated on the subject of matchplay for quite some time with many of those keen on pursuing a career in the professional ranks in favour of more strokeplay events.
They argue that there are already more than enough matchplay championships, albeit at provincial level, with the West, North and South of Ireland Championships all decided in mano a mano combat.
The Irish Amateur Open (Strokeplay) Championship is beyond the majority of the scratch players in the country.
Btu while the two strokelay editions of the Irish Close have identified classy winners in Paul Cutler (Shannon ‘11) and Chris Selfridge at Royal Portrush this year, the list of Close winners is replete with top names.
All four of Ireland’s current major champions - Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke - captured the Irish Close title during their amateur careers. Co-incidence or a case of the cream coming to the top?