After 50 years, Titleist sponsored Mid West Alliance still going strong
 An aerial view of the 18th at Dromland Castle, home of the Mid West Alliance.

 An aerial view of the 18th at Dromland Castle, home of the Mid West Alliance.

When it was founded in 1964, the Mid West Alliance had a very modest objective; to provide low handicappers in North Munster and South Connacht with an opportunity to remain ‘competitively sharp’ during the winter months.

Forty-seven golfers took part in the first outing at a blustery Lahinch Old and was won by a teenager, Ivan Morris (Limerick) with a score of 76 gross from Vincent Nevin (Ennis) and a popular golfer known as “The Stylist” - Peter O’Connor (cousin of Christy Senior and Junior who was the resident pro at Dromoland) on the same mark.

Former Limerick Golf Club senior cup player, Garry Geary and the late, Derry Culligan (Ennis) were the primary organisers. The Alliance’s subsequent longevity and success is a tribute to them. The generous co-operation of legendary, Lahinch secretary Brud Slattery was also crucial in those early years. Brud’s attitude was: “We always like to see good golfers coming to Lahinch. They are the backbone of the game!”

Professional golfers were particularly welcome competitors from the beginning. Christy O’Connor Junior will tell you that he is proud that in 1970 as a teenager and only a few weeks after he joined the paid ranks that he won his first-ever cheque (a mind-boggling sum of IR£6.00) in the alliance. Christy has never forgotten the joy and satisfaction he felt going home on that day.

In those early days, Vincent Nevin, Ivan Morris and Billy Rice (all Limerick), Greg Young and Denis Nagle (Kilrush), Arthur Pierse (Tipperary), John Morrison (Fermoy), Peter O’Connor (Dromoland), Tommy O’Connor and Gus Murphy (Galway), Brian Begley and Noel Cassidy (Castletroy), Bobby Cussen and Tim Murphy (Newcastlewest), John Smyth and Bob McCavery (Lahinch) were all regular prize winners.

Former Munster interpro, Donal Kenny (Ennis) wasn’t there right at the very beginning but not far off it and he is now probably the oldest golfer who still competes year after year along with Denis Nagle.

Dromoland has been the Alliance’s home for the last five years and Titleist have been the kind and generous sponsors. Since moving to Dromoland, local pro, Dave Foley and the home club member, Tony Cleary, have dominated the winner’s circle with occasional forays into the prize list by pros Ian Colleran, Padraig McGrath and Martin Ward (Ennis), Cian McNamara (Monkstown) and Tim Rice (Limerick) as well as seasoned amateur internationals, Joe Lyons and Eddie McCormack (Galway) and Pat Murray (Limerick.)

Some of the other prizewinners in recent years include: Daniel Brennan, Mike Kemmy, Paul O’Neill, Jason O’Donnell, Dave O’Donovan, Fergus Harold, Mark McGrath, David Casey, Liam Pyne, Joey Shire, Tom Saunders, Pat Lucey, Simon Morris, Alan Neville, Brian Burnell, John Hayes and Ian Dowling.

Last year, the alliance broke new ground by allowing two, low handicap women to join and it will break from tradition again this year by playing the competitions in the stableford format over five rounds with the four best cards to count in two handicap categories 0-3 (gross) and 4-9 (nett.)

Dromoland’s Tony Cleary has won the overall gross prize for the past two seasons. The bush telegraph has been buzzing that Tony is currently ‘on fire’ and practicing hard to make it a hat trick.

The dates for the 2014 alliance are January 19th and 26th, February 2nd and 23rd and March 9th.

Tee times MUST be booked in advance by telephoning: 061 368444 and spaces are limited. The entry fee of €30 per day includes the green fee.