Portmarnock Golf Cub has sent its members a questionnaire seeking their views on gender issues as it prepares to embrace change or face a major championship blackout until it admits female members.
The north Dublin club will co-host the Amateur Championship with The Island as part of its 125th-anniversary celebrations from June 17-22, knowing that will never again host an R&A event or the Irish Open, and can never dream of hosting The Open, until it changes its rules.
"The R&A has made it very clear to us that while we are a single-gender club, this will be the last major championship we are having," Portmarnock's Honorary Secretary, Eugene Kelly said yesterday. "And they have been very clear about that.
"As you can appreciate, this is a very sensitive issue for the members, but we have started a consultative process with them which will go on throughout the summer before we go back to the members towards the back end of the year."
Asked if Portmarnock would like to join The Open rota — a privately cherished dream for some at the club — Mr Kelly said: "On a personal level, I would say yes. But we haven't discussed it at committee level because it is not mooted at this present time."
The R&A’s Duncan Weir also addressed The Open rota issue at a media lunch held at the club on Friday but as he was speaking on behalf of the Amateur Championship Committee, he could not comment on the intentions of the Open Championship Committee.
He pointed out that the R&A was “very happy” with its current rota of 10 courses and added that they generated considerable sums which allowed them to invest in the development of amateur golf worldwide
As for the decision to allow Portmarnock, and British Ladies’ Amateur venue Royal County Down to host R&A events this year, he pointed out that they were merely honouring agreements that pre-dated the R&A ban on taking events to single-gender clubs.
"We didn't have a policy on this until we merged with the Ladies' Golf Union on 1 January 2017,” Mr Weir said. “At that time, Portmarnock and this year's Ladies' British Amateur venue Royal County Down had already been announced (as hosts) and we inherited a number of venues they had selected.
"By going to Portmarnock and Royal County Down, we are honouring commitments made. But our policy going forward is that we will not award events to clubs that have a single-sex membership policy."
It is now up to Portmarnock to look at changing its rules if it wants to stage an event such as the Walker Cup or The Open, which will be played in Portrush next month.
The Irish Open has not been played at Portmarnock since 2003 because public money is used to help run that event on the European Tour. Whatever about the club’s rules and its traditions, it is certain to prove a brilliant host for the Amateur, 70 years after Max McCready won the only previous staging at the venue in 1949.
High profile absentees at the East as Campbell seeks key win
Three will be 18 Irish players in the 288 strong field for the Amateur — entry is free for spectators who will be able to watch future stars from the fairways and not behind ropes — and 11 if them will be honing their games in in the East of Ireland Championship at County Louth this weekend.
Two more have exams but given that it’s a Walker Cup year, Great Britain and Ireland team panellists Conor Purcell, Caolan Rafferty, James Sugrue and John Murphy are being funded to play the Brabazon Trophy in Leeds.
It’s a sad development for the East but, of course, still no guarantee that the four in Leeds would have travelled to Baltray. Hermitage’s Rowan Lester also travelled under his own steam as he was exempt.
Sugrue shot a level par 71 and Purcell a 72 to share 27th on one over at halfway at Alwoodley, ten strokes behind England's Ben Schmidt.
Rafferty is a shot further back after a 74, but Kinsale's Murphy missed the four-over cut by one after a 75 with Lester a shot further back after a 76.
In Germany, Connemara's Luke O'Neill shot a six-under 66 at Golf St Leon Rot near Heidelberg to take a two-stroke lead in the final round of the 54-hole Allianz German Boys Open on nine under par. Scores
The leading players at County Louth include Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell, who will be hoping to win the title for the second time and boost his chances of a return to the Ireland team after a long injury layoff.
He picked up a timely victory last Tuesday, winning the Ulster Stroke Play at Galgorm Castle to move to sixth on the Bridgestone Order of Merit with the top three earning call ups for the Home Internationals at Lahinch in September.
"I'm so passionate about playing for Ireland and any time you get a chance to represent your country, it's an absolute honour," said 32-year-old Campbell, who has 31 caps. "I'll be doing whatever I can to play in Lahinch.”
A return to the international fold, two years after his last appearance, is now a real possibility for Campbell.
While title holder Christo Lambrecht is doing exams in South Africa, seven of his countrymen will be in action today, headed by world No 201 Martin Voster.
East of Ireland 2019
June 1-3, County Louth Golf Club (Par 72)
Sponsored by The D Hotel
Tee-times - Round 1/2
07:30 12:30 Mel Deasy (Lee Valley), Casey Jarvis (RSA), Ronan Mullarney (Galway)
07:41 12:41 Yurav Premlall (RSA), Peter O' Keeffe (Douglas), Alexander Wilson (Portmarnock)
07:52 12:52 Martin Vorster (RSA), Keith Egan (Carton House), Daniel Coyle (Portmarnock)
08:03 13:03 Matthew McClean (Malone), Jordan Duminy (RSA), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene)
08:14 13:14 Paul Coughlan (Castleknock), Sam Simpson (RSA), Marc McCormack (Moss Creek/ Island)
08:25 13:25 Devin Morley (Oughterard), Robert Brazill (Naas), Christiaan Burke (RSA)
08:36 13:36 Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle), T J Ford (Co. Sligo), Padriag O’Connor (Macroom)
08:47 13:47 Matt Saulez (RSA), Alan Fahy (Dun Laoghaire), Robert Cannon (Balbriggan)
08:58 13:58 David Brady (Co. Sligo), Gerard Dunne (Co. Louth), Paul Buckley (USA)
09:09 14:09 Gary Cullen (Links Portmarnock), Redmond Lyons (USA), Eanna Griffin (Waterford)
09:20 14:20 Joe Lyons (Galway), Ben Murray (Waterford Castle), Robert Moran (Castle)
07:30 12:30 Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Thomas O'Connor (Athlone)
07:41 12:41 Richard Knightly (Royal Dublin), Jack Mc Donnell (Forrest Little), Jake Rowe (Tandragee)
07:52 12:52 Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin), David Reddan Jnr (Nenagh), Sean Desmond (Monkstown)
08:03 13:03 Paul Murphy (Rosslare), Jake Whelan (Newlands), James Fox (Portmarnock)
08:14 13:14 Gary McDermott (Carton House), Pat Murray (Clontarf), David Shaw (Belvoir Park)
08:25 13:25 Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock), Colin Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire), Ryan McNelis (Fintona)
08:36 13:36 Rory Williamson (Holywood), Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock), Cian Dullaghan (Greenore)
08:47 13:47 Padraic O'Brien (Co. Louth), Ross McCormack (Palmerstown House Estate), John Greene (Portmarnock)
08:58 13:58 David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown), Niall Hearns (Mountrath), Shaun Carter (Royal Dublin)
09:09 14:09 Ross Latimer (Knock), Rhys Clarke (Island), William Russell (Clandeboye)
09:20 14:20 Darragh Crawford (Bundoran), Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle), Sam Murphy (Portumna)
12:30 07:30 Colm Jnr Campbell (Warrenpoint), Paul O'Hanlon (Carton House), Eugene Smith (Links Portmarnock)
12:41 07:41 Jason Rackard (Enniscorthy), James Temple (Portmarnock), Peter McKeever (Castle)
12:52 07:52 William Small (Tandragee), Marc Boucher (Carton House), Marc McKinstry (Cairndhu)
13:03 08:03 Ben Best (Rathmore), David Joyce (Powerscourt), Ruairi O'Connor (Co. Sligo)
13:14 08:14 Marc Nolan (Dun Laoghaire), Sean Ryan (Royal Dublin), Liam Grehan (Mullingar)
13:25 08:25 James Monaghan (Royal Dublin), A.J. McCabe (Links Portmarnock), Rhys Evans (Wal)
13:36 08:36 Darragh Flynn (Carton House), Jack Blake (Island), Stephen Barker (Mourne)
13:47 08:47 Jack Walsh (Castle), G Smyth (Clonmel), Hugh O'Hare (Fortwilliam)
13:58 08:58 Gerard Copeland (Ardglass), Conor Ryan (Dun Laoghaire), Mark O'Rourke (Royal Tara)
14:09 09:09 Alan Lowry (Esker Hills), Harry Gillivan (Westport), Declan O'Neill (Links Portmarnock)
14:20 09:20 Fergal O'Sullivan (Tralee), Liam Power (Galway), Jack Madden (Royal Portrush)
12:30 07:30 Daniel Sweeney (Killeen Castle), Jack Hearn (Tramore), Eoin Murphy (Dundalk)
12:41 07:41 Darren Leufer (Athenry), Gareth Bohill (Co. Louth), Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick)
12:52 07:52 James McVicker (Knock), Cathal Butler (Kinsale), Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee)
13:03 08:03 Ryan O'Doherty (Enniscrone), Adam Doran (Co. Louth), Paraic Connolly (Killeen Castle)
13:14 08:14 Karl Bornemann (Douglas), Jack Tuohy (Galway Bay), Fergal Kennedy (Island)
13:25 08:25 Robert Browne (Castle), Keith Murphy (Dun Laoghaire), John McCarthy (Grange)
13:36 08:36 Jamal Sabir (Moate), Eoin O'Brien (Clontarf), Oliver Brown (Wal)
13:47 08:47 Harry Duggan (Kilkenny), Quentin Carew (Palmerstown House Estate), Jonathan Gourley (Shandon Park)
13:58 08:58 Gary Ward (Kinsale), Karl McCormack (Portarlington), Dave Lowry (Corrstown)
14:09 09:09 Mark Shanahan (West Waterford), Aaron Ryan (Thurles), Adam Smith (Mullingar)
14:20 09:20 Josh Mackin (Dundalk), Ian Lynch (Rosslare), Greg O'Mahony (Fota Island)