There 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.
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.
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.
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
CSS= 74 73
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
CSS= 72 72
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
Sunday also brought an amazing performance in the Ulster Scratch Foursomes at Malone Golf Club
The winning score was 144 from Warrenpoint’s Ryan Gribben and Colm Cambell who shot a six under 64 gross in the second round on the par 70 course.
1 Par 4 - Birdie 3
2 Par 5 - Birdie 4
3 Par 4 - Birdie 3
4 Par 3 - Par 3
5 Par 4 - Par 4
6 Par 3 - Par 3
7 Par 4 - Par 4
8 Par 4 - Eagle 2
9 Par 4 - Birdie 3
Out - Par 35 Score 29
10 Par 4 - Par 4
11 Par 4 - Par 4
12 Par 3 - Par 3
13 Par 4 - Par 4
14 Par 4 - Par 4
15 Par 3 - Par 3
16 Par 4 - Par 4
17 Par 4 - Birdie 3
18 Par 4 - Bogey 5