Top class amateur golf is a young person's game these days so the ILGU and the GUI have taken steps to adjust their competitions to match their constituencies.
On Friday, the governing bodies for men’s and women’s golf in Ireland announced a two-season trial of a new competition structure for championship golf for youths (18-21-year-olds) and students of third-level institutions.
Don't panic - 18-21 year olds who do not go to college will be accommodated.
The new “Students” Championships will replace the GUI’s Youths Championships, but will continue to afford what would have previously been considered “youth” golfers – male and female – the opportunity for Championship golf. These new events will also form the backbone of the Unions’ contribution to intervarsity golf competition.
College students of any age will be eligible for these events, as will youth golfers between the ages of 18 and 21 and who are not in full-time third-level education.
The events will include two distinct competitions – an individual Championship which will be competed for by everyone and a team competition competed for by all colleges affiliated to the GUI and ILGU’s Intervarsity Competition Programme.
The team competition will include two- or three-person teams representing colleges, with two scores to count in each round. Colleges may enter more than one team.
Each Championship will consist of 54 holes of stroke play with a cut after the second round, and each will also be admissible for Men’s World Amateur Golf Rankings points as a continuation of the Youths Championships. The Women’s events will be submitted for their mandatory probationary year on WAGR.
The move is a response by the Unions to the growth in importance of Intervarsity golf in Ireland and the fact that – while Youths golf is no longer an international competition category following the dissolution in 2009 of the European Youths Team Championship – there is still much appetite for competition at this level.
The 2016-2017 Students season will also – for the first time – extend beyond the academic year and become a 12-month season.
The Unions and the GUI’s Provincial Branches are currently working to finalise its Students fixtures. Full details of fixtures and eligibility requirements will be published very soon. The competition structure for 2016-2017 is as follows:
- The Irish Intervarsity Championship (confirmed to be held at Lahinch Golf Club on 19-21 October 2016. (This event is open to college students only under the standard rules for Intervarsity competitions (including the ‘year of grace’ rule for recent graduates).
The Students season will be officially launched at this event, and full details will be provided on the remaining events, which are:
- The Munster Students Amateur Open Championship (to be held in March 2017 – date and venue to be confirmed)
- The Leinster Students Amateur Open Championship (confirmed to be held in Newlands Golf Club on 12-14 June 2017)
- The Ulster Students Amateur Open Championship (to be held in August 2017 – date and venue to be confirmed)
- The season-ending Irish Students Amateur Open Championship (confirmed to be held in Bray Golf Club on 30 August-1 September 2017)
- A new Connacht Students Amateur Open Championship will launch in November 2017 – the second season of this trial.
Since 2012, the GUI and ILGU have run competitions for third-level student golfers in Ireland in an effort to encourage the benefits of third-level education for promising golfers and also in an effort to ensure that golfers who embark on such an education stay in the game.
The Unions have run four seasons of competitions for college golfers, in which time the competitions have become embedded within the Unions’ programme of Championship golf for all ages, from under 12s to over-55s.