Munster's top golfers — from four scratch men in 1981 to 43 (at least) in 2016

Munster's top golfers — from four scratch men in 1981 to 43 (at least) in 2016
 Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) on the fourth tee during the second matchplay round of the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Lahinch Golf Club on Friday 22nd July 2016. Picture © Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Arthur Pierse (Tipperary) on the fourth tee during the second matchplay round of the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Lahinch Golf Club on Friday 22nd July 2016. Picture © Golffile | Thos Caffrey

It doesn’t take a genius to know that times have changed utterly in Irish golf over the past 36 years.

Still, the list of Category One golfers in Munster for 1981 makes for eye-watering reading to say the least.

Yes, the handicapping system has been overhauled and both the clubs and especially the golf balls have changed the game utterly.

Yet despite all that it’s still quite amazing to see that former Walker Cup player Arthur Pierse, who was one of just four scratch golfers listed in Munster in 1981, entered last season’s South of Ireland Championship off a handicap of plus 1.7 at the grand old age of 65.

Not only did Pierse qualify comfortably on 148, he reached the last 16.

 The list of Category One golfers in Munster in 1981

The list of Category One golfers in Munster in 1981

He only lost to eventual semi-finalist Daniel Holland from Castle, who was also runner up in the West of Ireland Championship at County Sligo last season, in round three. 

That he could still go that far in a field that had an entry of 158 players with handicaps of scratch or better is amazing.

I estimate that 108 of the entries had handicaps of plus one or better (see entry list) and 43 of them hailed from Munster clubs.

In fact, only one Munster golfer, international Robin Dawson from Tramore, went further in the South than the evergreen Pierse.

The other scratch men in Munster in 1981 were Denis O’Sullivan, Castletroy’s Paddy O’Looney and Ennis’ Donal Kenny, three hugely respected figures for the Munster cognoscenti.

When one considers that the defending South of Ireland champion in 1981, current R&A selector Michael Burns, was playing off a handicap of one at the time, boasting a scratch handicap "back in the day" certainly had more cachet than it does today.