Variety the spice of golf as European Tour and Mid-West Alliance try something new
 The ninth at Dromoland Castle

The ninth at Dromoland Castle

With the European Tour announcing details on Sunday of the innovative GolfSixes event, adding variety to the amateur game with new formats can only be welcomed.

With golf in danger of dying on its feets as an entire generation of youngsters looks for something quicker and more fun to do in their spare time, the European Tour' s new event could be the precursor of golf's version of 20-20 cricket or Rugby Sevens.

Irish amateur golf offers 72-hole strokeplay events or 64-player matchplay championships with 36-holes strokeplay qualifiers.

There have been some changes made in recent years with the Irish Amateur Open changing from a three-day to a four-day event with a 54-hole cut three to make the event more appealing to visitors.

It's a move that's been taken up by County Louth and Leinster Golf for this year's East of Ireland Championship, which will be a four-day event for the first time with a 54-hole cut.

While 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying have improved the quality of the field in the South, one wonders how long it will be before a 54-hole strokeplay qualifier, followed by a matchplay event for the top 16 becomes the format of choice for one our amateur majors, such as the Irish Amateur Close.

The Mid-West Golfing Alliance has the freedom to experiment and give amateurs west of the Shannon, and further afield, plenty of competitive winter practice at its Dromoland Castle base.

This season, they have added some variety by allowing its members to play four stableford outings and use the top two to qualify for an eight-player, Titleist-sponsored Shootout.

As Pádraig Harrington said in a magazine interview recently: "We should be trying everything — 72, 54, 36, 18 and nine holes with matchplay in the mix as well. I am all for variety. You are going to see a lot more variety on the European Tour if new CEO, Keith Pelley has his way."

Pelley has already brought in changes such as music on the practice range in Abu Dhabi and Sunday's announcement of the GolfSixes event announced for the Centurion Club near St Albans, north-west of London, from May 6-7 this year.

As for the Mid-West Alliance, the first outing of the season took place at Dromoland Castle on Sunday with 40 players looking to get off to a good start in the first of four qualifiers for the Titleist-sponsored Shootout. 

Nenagh's David Reddan Jnr, Castletroy's Andrew McCormack and Douglas' Peter O'Keeffe defied a cold wind to tie for first with 37 points.

Each of the four qualifying rounds offers daily prizes, and the eight Shootout qualifiers will get a dozen Titleist Pro V1s each. 

Golfers qualify for the Shootout based on their two best outings from four with playoffs used to decide any ties after the fourth outing.

Mid West Alliance, Dromoland Castle, Qualifier One

37 — David Reddan Jnr (Nenagh), Andrew McCormack (Castletroy), Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas).

36 — Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay)

35 — Joe Lyons (Galway)

33 — Donncadh Nagle (Dromoland), Nicky Duggan (Dromoland), Eoghan O'Loughlin (Woodstock), Bob Loftus (Lahinch), Tony Cleary (Woodstock). 

Next outings

  • Feb 26
  • March 5
  • March 12. 

To enter

  • Only two rounds are required to qualify for the Shootout 
  • Format: Gross stableford
  • Fee: €30 per outing
  • Call: Dromoland Golf Club 061 368444.