Ardglass Golf Club Hosts Back To Back All Ireland Competitions

Ardglass was the Mecca for Irish amateur golf last week, with not one but two prestigious competitions being scheduled for the local course.

Tuesday saw the National Finals of the Fred Daly Trophy, the top Under-19 club competition in Ireland. The four provincial champions, Lurgan (Ulster), Carton House (Leinster), Galway (Connaught) and Douglas (Munster) battled for the trophy at the seaside course on a fine late summer’s day. In the morning semi-finals Galway beat Douglas, while Carton House comfortably saw off Lurgan writes Gareth McMullan.

[caption id="attachment_51627" align="alignleft" width="390"]The Carlton House team who won the Fred Daly championship. Ardglass GC captain Tony Maynes is pictured front, second left. The Carlton House team who won the Fred Daly championship. Ardglass GC captain Tony Maynes is pictured front, second left.[/caption]

The final itself was a tense affair, with each side winning three matches and the last one finishing all-square. The two players went up the first in a sudden death playoff, carrying the hopes of their team and their supporters, and followed by a sizeable crowd. After a half at the first, the Carton House player came out on top at the second tie hole to give the County Kildare club their second title in four years.

GUI officials and representatives of the competing clubs were fulsome in their praise for the Ardglass track, which was in magnificent condition thanks to the efforts of Head Greenkeeper John Moore and his staff.

The following day saw the opening round of the Irish Youths Championship with a field packed with the best young talent in Irish golf. This competition, at under-22 level, has proved in the past to be a stepping stone to greatness for many of Ireland’s most famous golfers. Previous winners include Ryder Cup stars Paul McGinley and Ronan Rafferty and Majors winners such as Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.

This was the first occasion on which Ardglass had been chosen to host a national championship and if there were any fears that the course would not be sufficient challenge for these young stars, the fears were quickly dispelled. In typically windy Ardglass conditions, many of the competitors struggled to master the course, the unforgiving 11th in particular causing problems. On the opening day the leading score was a two-over par 72, and in fact over the four rounds of the competition there were only three sub-par rounds.

Some of the leading contenders were Castlerock’s Andrew Mulholland, Alan Lowry from Esker Hills and Chris Johnston from Perranporth, who looked a likely winner until a final round 83 scuppered his chances. Watch out for these names in years to come, and also for the eventual winner, Kyle McCarron of North West GC. McCarron was five off the lead going into the final round, but returned the best card of the day – four birdies and a triple-bogey on his way to a 69 – to pip Mulholland by one shot.

Once again, visiting dignitaries enthused about the beauty of the course and its playing condition. The weather certainly made it a tough test for the championship, evidenced by the fact that the winning total was 11 over par.

Golf tourism is one of the Northern Ireland tourist trade’s biggest earners, and Ardglass is doing its bit as its international profile rises. The number of foreign visitors to the local club continues to increase, with tour buses a common feature in the club car park during the summer months. Last week the club entertained a large group from Argentina and even with the two national events going on this week, the club were able to host a party of 40 players from Gibson Golf, one of California’s foremost golf tour operators.