strong field for scratch cup
THE Scratch Cup, once a hugely attractive part of the Irish amateur golfing calendar, is in decline but it has not yet expired completely. In the halcyon days, Carlow, Waterford, Mullingar, and Dundalk were among the host clubs who regularly attracted the best of the home talent plus international stars almost as a right.
The reputation for fine golf courses, top-level competition and prestigious trophies, plus the traditional welcome and hospitality extended to participants, made the senior Scratch Cup competitions irresistible for the elite players. All is changed now, and it's due to a combination of factors.
First and foremost, amateur golf at the top level is now an international game. Our players, thanks to the GUI, regularly compete in Britain, Australia, South Africa, and Europe.
These international sorties have to be fitted in alongside the top GUI championships, and club calls for Senior Cup and Barton Shield need to be accommodated as well.
It all adds up to a busy calendar in the peak golfing months from May through to August.
So where does the senior Scratch Cup fit in? Well, they're still going in Waterford, Dundalk and in other clubs, but with smaller profile, reduced sponsorship and diluted fields compared with the 60s, 70s and 80s.
And that makes it all the more remarkable that the Mullingar Scratch Trophy, once again sponsored by Grant Thornton, retains its allure and attraction.
The 49th staging of the 72-hole stroke-play event takes place on Saturday and Sunday week, August 27/28, and the organisers could hardly ask for a stronger field.
Paul Cutler (Portstewart), the reigning West of Ireland and Irish Close champion who performed very well in the recent Irish Open at Killarney, is joined by fellow Curtis Cup hopeful Alan Dunbar of Rathmore among an impressive array of talent.
Lucan's Richard O'Donovan, holder of the East of Ireland title, and recently crowned South of Ireland winner Stephen Walsh from Baltinglass will also compete, and internationals Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little), Connor Doran (Banbridge), Gary McDermott of County Sligo, and Simon Ward (Co Louth) are in the draw.
Last year's winner, Kelan McDonagh of Athlone, who is currently in China playing in the World Student Games, will defend his title.
This trophy has a tradition of being won by some of the best players ever produced in Ireland.
It started with the legendary Joe Carr winning the inaugural staging in 1963, and since then the winners have included three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington (1994), current US Open champion Rory McIlroy (2006), and reigning British Open champion Darren Clarke (1989).n WIN FOR NEWLANDS GOLFER
JACK Whelan, a promising 16-year-old three- handicap from Newlands, underlined his rich potential with a six-shot victory in the Allianz Dublin Boys Championship at Grange.
This prestigious annual event is endorsed by Paul McGinley, who learned his golf at Grange. Whelan, with rounds of 74 and 69 (143), won comfortably.
Peter McKeever (3) of Castle shot 149 (79 70) to pip Stackstown's John McCarthy (5), who also returned 149 (75 74), for second on a countback . Luke Conlon (8) from Milltown won the best nett category with rounds of 65 and 70. Jack Ward (8), with scores of 77 and 76, was the leading Grange player in the field of 69 competitors.
•BARTON CUP FINAL
THE first leg of the FBD Barton Cup final between Dunmurry Springs and Enniscorthy will be played at Dunmurry Springs next Saturday (12.0). Dunmurry, beaten finalists last year, hope first-leg home advantage will give them an edge before the second leg in Enniscorthy on Saturday, September 3 (1.15).
•ulster chase magnificent seven
IS there any stopping the Ulster girls, who begin the chase for their seventh successive Inter-provincial championship at Cahir Park, Tipperary, today?
The northern team field the talents of three Irish Girls' internationals Jessica Carty (Holywood), Hannah Henderson (Ballyclare) and Olivia Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies), in addition to Victoria Craig (Clandeboye) and Niamh Ward (Lurgan).
•KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
BALTINGLASS officers have enjoyed the last few weeks. First, club captain Fran Quaid, lady captain Margo Doyle, and president Noel Scott were leading qualifiers in our Allianz-Irish Independent Executive Trophy event at Mount Juliet.
That was quickly followed by celebrations all round as club member Stephen Walsh won the South of Ireland trophy at Lahinch.
Now vice-captain Brendan Doogue, playing off nine handicap, has won the men's summer medal with 67 nett. Not to be outdone, Brendan's wife, Teresa, won the Ladies summer medal with 70 nett off 26.
•NEW ROSS commemorates success
NEW Ross is one of only 15 clubs of the 429 in the country to have winners in both the men's and ladies Irish Close championships.
Mary Dowling brought the Wexford club into that category when she won the 2010 Ladies Close title in Portstewart, beating Leona Maguire.
Previously, Martin O'Brien had won the Men's Close championship for New Ross in 1968 and 1975. To mark this honour, New Ross are holding a combined men and ladies 36-hole Senior Scratch Cup on Saturday.
•BALLINROBE SKILLS TEST
RORY McIlroy honed his short-game skills by chipping golf balls into the washing machine when he was a child, but how would you fancy trying to chip a ball through a tyre?
That's just one of the tests in Ballinrobe's skills competition to be held from August 25-28. For further information contact the club at 094 954 1118.
•LUCKY 13 FOR DOUGLAS
SUPERSTITION is not an issue for the Douglas ladies after their success in winning the Irish Senior Cup for the 13th time, defeating Enniscorthy by 3 to 1 in the final. It was the first Douglas Senior Cup win since 1990. Former internationals Eavan Higgins and Kate MacCann were the backbone of the team, but Karen O'Neill, Aoife Lane and Julie Coyne all made big contributions throughout the campaign.
•YOUNG STAR ON RISE
CONNACHT individual titles are not easily won, so Westport members were delighted that Harry Gillivan won the Connacht Close U-13 Championship at Oughterard.
Gillivan shot 78 to win by three strokes, thus becoming the first Westport golfer to win a provincial individual title since Thomas McLoughlin took the U-16 title at Carrick-on-Shannon in 2001.
Devon Morley from Oughterard took the U-15 title and Co Sligo's Alan Gaynor won in the U-17 category. Incidentally, Bridie Hughes, Westport's centenary president in 2008, had a hole-in-one in a Ladies Open on the ninth hole at the club. The five points she gained helped her to third place in the competition.