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Cups and Shields to take up residence at Carton

ROYAL Tara Golf Club in Meath has been nominated to host the 2013 GUI Cups and Shields finals, with the the biggest festival of club golf in Europe then being based at Carton House for four years.

After the huge success in Kinsale last week, the finals return to Leinster next year, before taking up a semi-permanent residence at the Maynooth complex from 2014-17.

It makes sense on a number of levels, particularly with the GUI offices and their National Academy based at Carton House.

It could also save the Union money and with the quality of courses, the hotel on site and the all-round excellent facilities, Carton House can become the Mecca for club golfers that Croke Park is to the GAA.

At least that's the hope of Union officials, who have also opted for a change to the Blue Riband event of amateur golf, the Irish Close championship.

The GUI experimented with a 72-hole stroke play format for the Close in 2011 and 2012, completing the championship from a Friday to Sunday.

They also moved it back to May to avoid what was becoming a perennial clash of dates with the British Amateur championship and the Brabazon Trophy.

Having surveyed players, officials and selectors, the Union will revert to the traditional mode of 36-hole stroke play qualifying, followed by six rounds of match play next year.

The Close, won by Chris Selfridge of Moyola Park this year, also moves back to June, because May had become very crowded for the elite players in terms of major fixtures.

The outcome is that the 2013 Irish Close championship will take place at Connemara Golf club from Saturday, June 8 to Wednesday, June 12.

Irish Independent