Byrne hoping for Castlebar success in historic year
CASTLEBAR Golf Club celebrates its centenary this year -- and club Captain Mick Byrne has one big wish for 2010.
"As part of our celebrations we are hosting the All-Ireland Cups and Shields and it would be fantastic if we could have a Castlebar team in an All-Ireland final," Byrne said.
"We came close in Shandon Park in 2007, when Belvoir Park beat us in the Irish Junior Cup semi-final, and in 2008 we lost to Limerick in the Pierce Purcell Shield semi-final at Monkstown.
"It would be lovely to see a Castlebar team go all the way this year and failing that, maybe another Mayo team."
Captain Byrne and Lady Captain Antoinette Starken had their drive-in before Christmas prior to the big freeze.
Centenary Lady President Maureen Tobin and Men's President Johnny Farragher also took office that day and now, following the thaw, it's all systems go.
The club extensively overhauled its course almost 10 years ago and boasts USGA-specification sand-based greens that have gained a respected reputation among golfers who have played the course.
A €500,000 clubhouse extension is due to open next month, with the official opening ceremony of the renovated structure pencilled in for June.
Most clubs celebrate the opening of new facilities on a single day, but Castlebar are holding a Centenary Weekend based around the clubhouse extension's official opening from June 24-27.
The staging of the Connacht Cups and Shields Finals in August and the national Cups and Shields Finals in September are the highlights of the year, but the club has plenty of other action scheduled.
Included in the comprehensive programme are a Club Week for the members from May 10-14 and a Centenary Open Week in July.
"This is a landmark in the club's history. We have over 700 members and it's a thriving club," Byrne added.
"Like all clubs we've lost a few members, but if we can hold our numbers to 2009 levels, we'll be happy.
"The new clubhouse extension has greatly improved our facilities and we'll be looking forward to hosting the Connacht and All-Ireland Cups and Shields Finals."
The Captain, owner of the renowned Mick Byrne's Pub in Castlebar, joined the golf club in 1969.
A seven handicap, he's a useful man to have in fourball, and said: "For me, a Castlebar man through and through, it's a fantastic honour to be captain of the club in its centenary year. I'm looking forward to it immensely."
Castlebar Golf Club was founded in 1910 on its present site at Rocklands, close to the town.
Originally the land was rented, but as interest in golf grew and more members joined, the club eventually bought the site and some additional land.
The course was extended from nine to 18 holes in 1982, with the re-design and overhaul of 18 new greens completed in 2000.
Off-course, the clubhouse was renovated in 1989 and the latest improvements have Castlebar GC nicely primed for a memorable year of celebration.