Our Ladies had set a high standard earlier this year, even more recently our Juniors a high standard earlier this month. Could our Gents match such feats? In true man-style everything was what some would say ‘very relaxed’. Isn’t it just a simple task of getting to the Club on time, pointing these seasoned golfers to a parking spot, point them to the driving range, point them to the bar, point them to the shop and point them to the 1st tee. Easy. We were again blessed with a dry day, fiery fairways and the expectation of lino-like greens. A greyish start to the morning soon developed into a sunny day with a fresh breeze to keep all golfers honest. We were surely going to be in for a spectacle of golf.
Before getting into details of the weekend matches our first mention of thanks goes to Tom O’Halloran from Tipperary Driving Range. Tom was again one of the earliest starters, making sure that the range was ready for 70+ eager golfers who want to smash every drive through or even over the hedge at the end of the range. This year we have been riding the crest of a wave with a beautiful course and special attention from both GUI & ILGU. A huge and sometimes forgotten benefit of TGC is having the facilities of a range right on our doorstep. Remember that spending 15 minutes warming up with 25 balls before you get to the 1st tee is likely to shave at least a couple of shots off your score. Give it a try and tell me if I’m wrong.
The first round saw us drawn against a top class Dungarvan team. Having sent a delegation to our Scratch Cups earlier in the month they walked away taking all the spoils in the Senior division with level par rounds from the top three in the group. With such form anyone would be quietly confident of going deep into the weekend’s competition. Little did they know that our own top men, led by Tim Walsh, were quietly going about their preparation and were in very good form themselves with Sean Long scoring an albatross on the 12th, Tony O’Sullivan blitzing the field to win our recent vPar Club Singles with a fantastic 5up score, Steven Murray taking the Best Gross on the same day and Alan Meskell sparring with Darragh Coughlan in practice to see who would earn the title ‘boom boom baby’ of the team. However playing good golf is one thing but this is now Matchplay, a whole new ballgame where anything can happen. Who has the bottle? Who has the cunning? Who can hold their nerve to sink that vital 6 footer to win the hole?
Steven led the team off from the 11th in great style and was a fantastic 5up through 9 holes. His opponent never blinked and reeled him back to 3up. Some might start to get nervous but with a cool head and some solid shots Steven closed out his match 3&2. First blood TGC. Sean had a great battle through the full 18 holes. Being 1 down through 9 holes he fought back well, winning 2 in a row, to nudge in front. Back to all-square going up the last (10th) brought out his best with a fantastic birdie bringing in a second point for TGC. Alan drew the shortest straw in the match being out against one of the best that Dungarvan offer, Alan Thomas winner of our Senior Scratch Cup with a +1 handicap. Our Alan battled manfully right to the end but the class of Thomas proved too strong for a finish winning the point for the visitors 4&3. Darragh, trying to do a Rory McIlroy on it, arrived just a little late for Tim’s liking. He certainly made his mark out on the course and was a blistering 3 up through 9 holes. Unfortunately his opponent proved too strong on the back nine, fighting back to all square through 15 and sneaking ahead in the closing holes to win 2&1. At two points apiece all would now rest on the final match. Our stalwart rearguard, Tony, fought tooth and nail to bring in the elusive point that would have sent shockwaves through the course. The Dungarvan man got the breaks needed to keep his nose just in front and dashed our hopes with a 2&1 win. Disappointment yes but I think you’ll agree that an excellent Dungarvan side got much more than they bargained for in their opening match. These results often hinge on small things during the match and this one was no exception, I’m sure we will learn from the experience and come back stronger next year. Well done to our team, manager and caddies on a great performance. Big congratulations go to Dungarvan. After sneaking past the host team they coolly dispatched their opponents on Saturday afternoon, had a mammoth match against Tramore on Sunday morning (a couple of matches going to the 19th and 21st) and finished the weekend with a tight but great win against Waterford Castle in the final. Having fought their way through such tough matches I think they richly deserve the title of East Munster Champions. We wish them luck in the rounds ahead.
Not to be outdone by the Ladies, Johnny Foran from Thurles GC produced the shot of the weekend with his hole-in-one on the 7th. Congratulations.
As usual our GUI Officials, Pat Dunne and Liam Troy, ran a very smooth and efficient outfit. A busy schedule on Saturday brought in a two-tee start with matches starting on both the 1st and 11th. Being veterans at this type of competition they did a fantastic job in managing such a busy course. I did smile when I heard Pat Dunne warning those playing from the 11th to take their time for the first 8 holes, not something we are used to hearing. Thank you both for your advice, your company and especially the time that you give to the GUI. It is always a pleasure to have you at TGC.
Volunteers and Officials again made the task of running the event a very simple task. The welcome given to all visiting teams was fantastic. The occasional wayward shot on the 2nd hole had some of our ball-spotters scrambling for a bit of tree cover, a few of the younger and keen-eyed spotters spotted that those trees giving the best cover also give some sweet sweet cherries at this time of the year, yummy. Our car-park supervisors took a different option with safety in mind and food deliveries straight from the bar. Both groups did a fantastic job. Thank you all.
Katie put in a great shift in the Golf Shop from very early on Saturday morning, making sure that all golfers had the gear they needed for the course and change for the range. I’m sure that the sight of some of those fit younger golfers might have made up just a little bit for such an early start. Maybe the fear of losing his trusty side-kick had Darragh taking up the reins on Sunday morning. Well done and thank you both.
Liam Duffy and all his staff were fantastic in the lead up to and right through the whole weekend. Feeding and watering 70 tired golfers in a small time window is no easy task, and that is before you include managers, reserves, officials, supporters, members……need I go on. Days started before anyone else arrived at the course and I am sure they went on long past when the last customers took their leave. Again this is a great attraction in our golfing package and deserves our support where possible. Thank you to both front and back of house.
The best compliment to the course and greens presented by Eddie and staff was to hear that the full complement of Dungarvan panel were practicing their putting on the 15th green straight after a convincing win in their Saturday afternoon match. Just shows you what short-game practice can do. By all accounts they were given a really tricky pin which produced some large numbers. Nice one guys, I just hope you have a bit of sympathy for us mere mortals. I have since heard that Eddie was having a great laugh early on Sunday morning as he set out with glee to iron the greens yet again. I had the chance to play a few holes myself late on Sunday morning and could not pass up on the chance to have a crack at the 15th. After what I considered to be a great tee shot my putter just took a look at a downhill putt and you all can imagine what happened next. I can’t bring myself to mention my score on the hole but I can tell you that my newest term of endearment for our wonderful green keeper is ‘Evil Eddie‘. In honesty, a great job.
We finally would like to thank all teams that took part over the weekend and hope that you will come back to visit us in the coming months. There were some fantastic matches played out there with many of the games so tight that the results could very easily have gone either way. To the spectators, you got a real treat of matchplay golf from some of the best that Munster has to offer. A captive audience just helps to build the atmosphere, excitement and tension in an already pressure situation. We hope you enjoyed, we did.
Next Year, ‘Bring It On’.