Rowan LesterHermitage’s Rowan Lester presents the Lucan Scratch Cup to Peter Ennis (Captain, Hermitage Golf Club) after his victory at Lucan Golf Golf Club on Sunday. Also in the picture is Brian O’Connor (Vice Captain). Picture by Pat CashmanThere was a time when Ireland’s major amateur championships were fun-packed occasions when the top players in the country would get together, beat each other’s brains in and have a so many pints afterwards that a fistful of Solpadeine was required to make the tee the next day.

No-one is calling for a return to those hedonistic days of laissez-faire golf swings and another 60-year wait for an Irish major winner. That said, we certainly miss the atmosphere.

I recall helping out at the East of Ireland back in the early eighties, phoning in the results for the Irish Independent’s Tom Cryan - The Squire to one and all. The Independent group might have two men working at the East, one working for the daily paper and another covering the early morning golf for the Evening Herald.

Lucan Golf ClubThe first tee at Lucan Golf Cub in west Dublin. The Irish Press, The Irish Times, Cork Examiner and even the Daily Mirror would have staff men in situ. The clubhouse would he rammed from morning to night.

Like the West, the South and the North, it was a social occasion. Given that only the very top players would take the plunge into the paid ranks and head for the fledgling European Tour, the fields were replete with the same familiar names, year after year. 

Look back at the winners of the Close and the provincial championships since 2000 and less than half have those players remained in the amateur ranks. The current crop still meet for drinks but those “sessions”, bar perhaps at Lahinch during the South, invariably take place away from competition time.

Call it progress. The WBB era (White Belt Brigade) is upon us and will give us many more tour stars and leave many dreamers penniless and frustrated.

Lucan Junior and Senior Scratch Cup trophies The Lucan Junior and Senior Scratch Cup trophies. Scratch Cups were huge occasions too. But they still survive. In fact, if you’re looking for a throwback to the halcyon days, the Scratch Cup still has that great mix of competitive bite and social bonhomie that makes amateur golf such an attractive alternative to sitting in front of the box watching another European Tour event on SkySports.

Last Sunday, the good, the bad and the deluded (me) gathered at venues such as Lucan, Laytown & Bettystown and Cork (Munster Strokeplay) for some Senior and Junior Scratch Cup action.

Lucan was at its sylvan best, the greens firm and fast, the company excellent, the post round ambience (helped by a bank holiday the following day) a throwback to the good old days.

Next week (Sun 18th & 19th May), the spotlight will shine on Mullingar for the 50th anniversary staging of the Mullingar Scratch Trophy.

It’s a great opportunity to see some top class golf on a classic James Braid course. Better still, there will be an atmosphere.

The sixth green at Laytown and BettystownThe sixth green at Laytown and Bettystown. Lucan Senior Scratch Cup

1st Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 70 73 143

2nd Stephen Dwyer (Lucan) 73 73 146

3rd Craig Melvin (Corrstown) 75 73 148

Nett Andrew Boyle (3) 74 72 146 net

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Lucan Junior Scratch Cup

1st Chris Fitzgerald (5) (Lucan) 80 72 152

2nd Brendan Kane (7) (Lucan) 74 78 152

3rd Cillian Tully (7) (Hermitage) 80 73 153  

Nett Pat Dunne (6) (Lucan) 71 73 144 Nett

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Laytown & Bettystown Senior Scratch Cup

1st: Caolan Rafferty Greenore 141

2nd: Eoin Arthurs Forrest Little 146

3rd: Shaun O’Connor Luttrellstown Castle 146

4th: Cian Geraghty Laytown & Bettystown 147

5th: Garath Bohill Co. Louth 147

6th: Ronan O’Reilly Headfort 149

Net: Kingsley Lewis Skerries 145

7th: Greg Mungovan Headfort 150

8th: Bryan Ronan Co. Louth 150

9th: Jake Whelan Newlands 150

10th: Liam Hutchinson Royal Dublin 151

CSS: 1st round 74 reduction only

CSS: 2nd 73 round