Lamont the man for all seasons as Dunmurry surge into K Club final
TIGER WOODS has made a career of pursuing what he calls "Ws", meaning wins; but in Ireland this year "W" means weather, and on any given day, the elements can cause serious challenges for golfing enthusiasts.
And so it proved in our Irish Independent-Allianz Officer Golf Challenge regional qualifier held at Malone GC near Belfast.
The captains, lady captains and honourary officers who turned up to enjoy a competitive round at one of the finest parkland layouts in the country had their mettle and character tested, just as much as their golf game.
As Malone captain Michael Cox said afterwards: "We had all four seasons in one today, sometimes all four in one hour."
Strong winds, intermittent showers, a touch of sleet at one stage, and, hallelujah, sunny spells as well, asked plenty of questions of the golfers chasing a spot in the final scheduled for The K Club on Thursday, September 5.
All credit to the club teams. They performed with commitment and dedication to the cause, and none better than Dunmurry, represented by captain George Gillespie (21), lady captain Jean White (28) and honourary treasurer Trevor Lamont (12).
George, Jean and Trevor compiled a fine total of 74 points on the two-to-count stableford system and took the kudos as leading qualifiers.
They will be joined in the final by Malone, Royal Tara and Seapoint.
Malone (Michael Cox, Linda Dean and Barry Brennan) were second on 71 points. Royal Tara (Noel Rowland, Alice Collier and Ray Reynolds) also had 71 points, and Seapoint (PJ Campbell, Irene Kirwan and David Geoghegan) returned 65 points.
Peter Kilcullen of Allianz complimented all the teams on their participation, and spoke for everyone when he said: "Our thanks to Malone for the excellence of the presentation of the golf course today, despite the four seasons in one day that was already mentioned.
"Nonetheless, the course was in great condition, and I would ask captain Michael and lady captain Linda to pass on our thanks and appreciation to the course staff for the invaluable work they did.
"We've had a beautiful meal this evening and special thanks to secretary-manager Peter Kelly for his assistance and for assuring the smooth running of the event."
And so to the golf.
Dunmurry's anchor man was Trevor Lamont (12), who contributed four pars and a birdie, with captain George (21) and lady captain Jean (28) maintaining a steady back-up level of performance.
George summed up the experience by saying: "The weather was the only problem. The day itself was excellent, the course was in good order – a bit wet in spots but nothing to worry about.
"The greens were good and it's a beautiful track. My two playing partners carried me for part of it but we all played our part when we needed to."
George's only previous experience of The K Club was as a spectator on the final day at the 2006 Ryder Cup.
"I was in the stand on the 16th where all the big drama happened. It was the best golfing day I ever had," he said.
Next September George will relish the chance to actually experience playing the venue where Europe enjoyed that marvellous triumph.
Malone's honourary secretary Barry Brennan is a past Ulster Boys champion – it was not today or yesterday, as they say.
However, Barry (5) is still some player, as he showed by scoring nine pars and two birdies.
Captain Michael (17) and lady captain Linda Dean (18) were very pleased with Barry's performance and will expect more of the same in the final.
"Barry played very well and the lady captain and I did our best to support him.
"It is a terrific event and despite the weather, we enjoyed the day," Michael said.
Royal Tara captain Noel Rowland and his team felt comfortable in the parkland surroundings at Malone that are reminiscent of their own club.
"It's a wonderful course, an old-style course and very enjoyable to play," said Noel.
Just like the previous two teams mentioned, Royal Tara had a strong and consistent performer who kept racking up pars for valuable points.
Ray Reynolds (12) was that man for the Meath club's team and Noel (17) and Alice (21) kept their end up as the round progressed.
With nine pars from the 16 appearances he made on the card, Ray set the tone for a good qualifying performance by Royal Tara.
Seapoint captain PJ Campbell (17), lady captain Irene Kirwan (18) and David Geoghegan (9) on 65 points just pipped Castlerock's team of Barney Mullan (21), Diane Stuart (21), and Ivor Platt (9) by a single point for the final qualifying slot.
"We're delighted to qualify for the final and we've a few bragging rights now because last year's Seapoint team didn't qualify. It was a lovely course. I'd be delighted to play it again," said PJ.
Portsalon didn't qualify but they featured a mother and daughter combination as lady captain and club president playing alongside club captain Joseph Harkin.
Deirdre Hensey is lady captain and her mother Kathleen McCormick is the first woman to be Portsalon's president since the club was founded in 1891.
Indeed, Portsalon was one of the nine founder members of the GUI that year.
There is also a link to Paul McGinley, Ryder Cup captain and Allianz ambassador.
Paul's sister Karen is married to Kathleen McCormick's son Mark, and Paul has carried out impressive design upgrade work on the Portsalon links.