McInerney super score simply par for course
THE ice and snow have been consigned to the memory banks; the evenings are lengthening and it's time to play 18-hole competitions again. So, what's it going to take to win a singles at your club?
I'm not talking about the Majors, such as the Captain's, President's and Lady Captain's prizes, but just about your ordinary weekly singles competition.
I have to hold up my hands -- I speak as one who has never graced the winner's rostrum in club competitions.
The best I managed was a runner-up spot about 10 years ago. The lights were on that day and the golf flowed for 41 points -- and still some bugger had two points more than I had.
Still, it felt like a bit of a breakthrough. You hear it from the pros all the time -- "now I feel I can step up to the next level."
Eh, yeah. The only problem was the next level was a series of steps downwards.
In fact, the 'next level' for me since has been 10 years of fruitless fare in competition and too many decimal points added to the handicap.
The basic fact is that if you're going to win in your club, you seem to need to shoot six or seven, or even more under your handicap.
In other words, you have to post around 42 points to be in with a chance and throw in a couple of more for good measure to be sure.
Already our Golf Notices section is showing some lively scores in the 40+ mark and the season has hardly started in earnest. No doubt winter rules, placing and even temporary greens have contributed to some degree, but it won't be much different when everyone is playing off their regular course.
I've heard some mutterings recently about the handicap system and that it's not working to full effect if golfers can thrash courses to such a level that you need on average 44 points to have a chance of winning.
That's a bit harsh. Everyone can have a day when their golf is like a dream and everything falls into place.
The age profile can also be a factor, with youngsters shooting down in handicap and racking up big scores en route. And if a golfer is recording big scores regularly, then the handicap secretary will be on his/her case.
One man who has no problem with amateurs enjoying themselves and whacking the hell out of courses is Padraig Harrington.
I recall a conversation with the great man some years ago in which he discussed club courses and how they are set up -- often with fairways much narrower than those the professionals play on Tour.
Harrington said that he felt courses should be eminently playable for club golfers. "Why not have them so that the average score is 36 points instead of 30 points? The idea of the game is to have fun and surely it's much more fun to be averaging around 36 points," was the thrust of his message.
Fair point from Padraig. He and his peers have courses set up to be playable and to favour birdies instead of struggling to make par.
But then, if 36 points was a norm, given the standard in Irish golf, club winners would be scoring 55 points -- and the rest of us hackers would be still looking on in envy.
In that context, hats off to Sutton's Gerry McInerney, who made a spectacular start to the season. He won the St Patrick's Cup -- the first 18-hole competition of the year at the club -- with a nett 59 strokes, off 15 handicap.
Now that's what I'm talking about -- a perfect illustration of the standard you need to win a club singles. He can be deadly when he gets his tee-shots going, which he did last Saturday.
He shot 74 gross, which is six-over- par on a slightly shortened course that has a 68 par instead of the normal 70 due to drainage works alongside the fourth hole. The score was nine under McInerney's handicap -- a testament to his form on the day.
Nearest challenger was Aidan Williams who scored 62 off six handicap, which was level par nett.