Langer provides good test for dublin's officer corps
Bernhard Langer caught out quite a few members of the greater Dublin area's golf club officer corps on Monday - despite the former Major winner being domiciled a few thousand miles away in the USA.
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that Langer's legacy, in the form of the challenging Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links he designed, asked serious questions of the participants in the Allianz-Irish Independent Executive Trophy qualifier.
The team that passed the examination with flying colours was Wicklow Golf Club, ably represented by captain David Delaney, lady captain Mairead Dowling and president Keith Clarke.
They returned a fine total of 71 points on a two-to-score basis, to lead the way to the final, which will be played at The K Club on Thursday, September 1.
Beech Park (captain Eamonn Burke, lady captain Noeleen O'Brien, hon treasurer Noel Frazer) came second on 68 points, with their back nine edging them just ahead of Carton House, who also returned 68 points.
Carton's team was captain Pat Russell, lady captain Gay Colbert, and hon secretary John Kelly.
Fourth place was taken by The K Club, represented by their captain Tom Taaffe, lady captain Sally Ann O'Connor, and vice-captain Jim Kirwan with a score of 66 points.
Bodenstown's Robert McCabe, Antoinette Agnew and Tom Keightley just missed out, as they had nines of 40-26 for 66, compared to the K Club trio's well balanced 34-34.
Sean McGrath, director of sales and operations for Allianz, welcomed the participants at the après-golf dinner where the craic and camaraderie among the captains, lady captains and officers rounded off the day nicely.
"Conditions were difficult but the course was in great condition and that is a tribute to director of golf Moira Cassidy and the team here at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links," McGrath said.
"We are delighted to be sponsoring this event which is as much about the social aspect of club officers enjoying a day out with their peers as it is about the golf. We wish you all well for the rest of your year in office.
Weather-wise we got all four seasons in one -- warm sunshine and breezy conditions with intermittent squalls of rain and cold gale gusts, and even a few hailstones.
Credit to the Wicklow team, all single-handicap golfers, for their performance.
Captain David plays off seven, lady captain Mairead is off nine, and president Keith has an eight handicap. Mairead led the way early on, scoring par on each of the first four holes, and the team dovetailed nicely to turn in 36 points.
They lost momentum to an extent on the inward half, and on the 18th tee had only 64 points in the bag.
Cue the highlight -- a birdie three with a shot by Keith, and a par with a shot by David, and that seven-pointer brought Wicklow to the top of the leaderboard.
PORTMARNOCK Links has undergone extensive improvements in the last five years under the direction of John O'Connor, director of owners Capel Developments, course superintendent Fintan Brennan and director of golf Moira Cassidy.
The quality of the greens has been maintained to a high standard, while the elimination of much of the heavy rough, while enhancing the playability factor for the majority, has not reduced the challenge for low handicaps.
New tees have been created on the first, and the 16th, while high tee-boxes on nine, 10, 11 and 13 have enhanced the views. A new 13th green is almost completed, and will add 75 metres to this par-five hole.
"We have restored the greens to predominantly fescue grasses (over 80pc) and in the process have created some of the best greens in the country," O'Connor said.
Further good news is that the links has attracted increased tourist numbers, particularly from Sweden, Germany and the UK. "And the US market is also coming back, albeit slowly," added O'Connor.
Donabate captain Pat McNeill and lady captain Pauline Byrne will be delighted to preside over a special testimonial day to honour the club's renowned professional Hugh Jackson on Friday next.
Hugh, born in 1940 in Newtownards, started his professional career at Balmoral as assistant to the great Fred Daly, winner of the 1947 British Open.
A great competitor, Hugh represented Ireland in the World Cup in 1970 at Buenos Aires and '71 at Palm Beach.
He won six Ulster titles and Tour events, including the Picadilly Medal tournament in 1968. He also won the prestigious Irish Dunlop tournament the same year, and in 1970 was the Irish Professional champion.
Hugh also finished eighth in the 1970 British Open at St Andrews, finishing ahead of such notables as Arnold Palmer, Peter Thompson, Tom Weiskopf, Billy Casper and our own Christy O'Connor Snr.
The Ulsterman joined Donabate Golf Club in 1980, replacing former pro Kevin Neill.
The event on Friday has attracted a big entry, including Christy O'Connor Jnr, Eamon Darcy, Arnold O'Connor, Mick Murphy, Liam Higgins, Paul Leonard and Nicky Lynch.
Coghlan graces trophy
The Executive Trophy event was graced by the former World 5,000m champion and Olympian Eamonn Coghlan.
Eamonn is captain of Luttrellstown Golf Club this year, and he competed alongside lady captain Geraldine Burke and hon secretary Michael Farrell.
They didn't qualify but Eamonn is happy to report that Luttrellstown is attracting good numbers of members and green fee visitors.