Bayley the driving force for Wolseley
THE unsung heroes and heroines of Irish golf during this sodden summer are the bravehearts of the greenkeeping staff all around the country.
These men and women are to the forefront of the battle against the elements to keep courses playable and available to members, and they deserve our thanks.
Down at Mount Juliet, course superintendent Aidan O'Hara and his staff received great praise from the participants in the Irish Independent/Allianz Executive Trophy qualifying event.
The Executive Trophy, which brings captains, lady captains and honorary officers together in a spirit of camaraderie and competition, has been hosted by Mount Juliet since its inception in 1996.
And over those 17 years, it's difficult to recall a summer that has had so much constant rain, so it was a tribute to all concerned at the internationally renowned Co Kilkenny venue that the 2012 south-east region qualifying event went off without a hitch.
Brendan Murphy, chief executive of Allianz Ireland, complimented the staff at Mount Juliet for their courtesy and level of service on and off the course.
"This is truly a championship venue which has hosted some of the finest golfers in the world in tournaments such as the WGC events and the Irish Open," he said. "The course and venue is one of the finest in the country and we are delighted to be here again in the 17th year of this great event.
"It is a pleasure to co-sponsor the Executive Trophy for the club officers with the Irish Independent. These are difficult times for the country so the contribution of captains, lady captains and honorary officers is all the more valuable."
The two-tee start helped with efficiency and cutting down time. It also proved equitable as two of the qualifiers -- Kilkenny and Waterford -- started on the first tee, while Mount Wolseley and Rathsallagh teed off on the 10th.
82 pts (36, 46)
Team: Barney O'Toole, captain (10); Maeve Bayley, lady captain (25); Conor Carroll, honorary secretary (13)
Starting on the 10th tee, Mount Wolseley were quick off the blocks and by the end of their first nine they had 46 points in the bag.
The secret? "Our lady captain, Maeve Bayley, was on the card seven times and inspired myself and Conor Carroll to step it up on our back nine," said captain Barney O'Toole.
"Maybe we tried to protect the score a bit after that, but we were delighted just to be at Mount Juliet, and to win was a bonus. We were looked after really well and we managed to miss the worst of the rain."
A winner of the captain's prize twice, Barney is hoping for good weather when his prize day is held over the last weekend of July and the first weekend of August.
82 pts (40, 42)
Team: JJ Ryan, captain (8); Rosemary Mullan, lady captain (36); George Walsh, president (6)
This is centenary year for Waterford. The club came into existence on March 8, 1912, and carries the distinction of having two legends of the game as the course designers. Willie Park, who won the British Open twice, designed the front nine, and James Braid, a five-times Open winner, crafted the back nine.
JJ Ryan is honoured to be captain in this memorable year, but his original plan for captain's day fell foul of the weather on June 3. It has now been rescheduled for August 5, and hopefully the weather will have improved by then.
As for the Mount Juliet event, JJ commented: "Our lady captain Rosemary Mullan and George Walsh made sure the team dovetailed nicely to give us a good score. Really we just went out to enjoy the day and it was a pleasure to play the course as always."
81 pts (44, 37)
Team: Matt Owens, captain (27); Catherine Field, lady captain (20); John Field, competition secretary (10)
Rathsallagh's husband and wife team of John and Catherine Field were nicely aided and abetted by club captain Matt Owens in compiling a score that was only one off the leading qualifiers.
John Field had 33 points on his own card, including a birdie three on the index 2, par-four fourth hole. That was worth four points, and he also had a birdie two on the short 11th.
77 pts (39, 38)
Team: Seamus Rochford, captain (13); Pauline Cullinane, lady captain (20); Luke Kelly, honorary secretary (6).
Not a Cat among them, but they kept the black and amber flag flying among their fellow club officers.
Seamus Rochford hails from Laois, Luke Kelly is a native of Carlow, and Pauline Cullinane comes from Co Cork.
Captain Seamus led from the front by scoring a chip-in birdie three on the par-four first hole for four points.
A steady par on that hole by Luke added two more points to get the Kilkenny team's game off on the right note.
Over the course of the round, Pauline and Seamus did their job in support of team star Luke, who featured 17 times on the card, with a birdie, 13 pars and three bogeys.
"It's a great event, particularly because you can't pick the team, and it's all about how you do on the day," said Seamus.