26 March 2010

New Scratch Cup Circuit for Top Golfers - LIMERICK LEADER

Limerick Leader, 26th March 2010
The Voice of Midwest Golf, Ivan Morris

New Scratch Cup Circuit for Top Golfers

Back in the 20th century, scratch cups were highly glamorous. Every weekend, Ireland’s small coterie of top amateurs traveled the length of the country to pit their skills against each other in front of crowds as big as those that often watch European Tour events these days.

Scratch cups were so popular, they may have become victims of their own success. They probably lost their lustre because of ‘too much pro golf on TV’ and the GUI’s Elite Squad system which meant that the top players had so many engagements overseas that they did not have to bother mixing it with ‘ordinary mortals’ at home.

Even if scratch cups are no longer sufficiently attractive to draw spectators, they remain an important form of competition for ambitious, low handicappers of which there are far more in 2010 than ever before.

Many 2 and 3 handicappers, have never played in a provincial or national championship simply because their handicaps disqualify them. Where can they get a chance to measure and raise their games against better players? How can they sharpen their skills for Irish senior cup combat? This ‘gap in the market’ is virtually ignored by the GUI. If you haven’t come to their notice by the time you are 18-years of age, the GUI won’t be remotely interested in you!

For all that - the challenges of the game have not altered. Competition amongst low-handicappers is as fierce as it ever was and long may it continue. The scratch cup remains an important alternative of ‘serious’ competition for low-handicappers who still need them as a ‘proving ground’ to hone their competitive instincts.

Thanks to the website, TopGolfer, the Irish scratch cup scene has received a badly needed fillip with the announcement of a new 30-tournament series to run across all four provinces between now and October. Events will run until the season-ending Tour Championship over 36-holes on The Montgomerie Course at Carton House on October 16th, where all 30 winners will compete for the title of “Top Golfer 2010.”

For years clubs ran their own scratch cups but in the current climate sponsorship has become difficult, this is one way around the difficulty.

“Sponsors aren’t that enthusiastic about just one event at one particular club but when asked what if we had 20 or 30 of these events - sponsors became more interested and we are delighted that the likes of Kartel, Ecco, Callaway, Citizen Signature Collection (based in Shannon), Andalucia, Motocaddy and Setanta came on board to prove that a good idea will always rise above the doom and gloom.” Says Rob Hill of Top Golfer, who worked as Project Manager at Dromoland Castle during its major reconstruction phase some years ago.

Single-figure handicap golfers account for approximately 12 per cent of the 300,000-plus affiliated members in Ireland and Top Golfer hopes to attract in the region of 100 competitors at each event.

“Clubs are keeping the cost of entry very competitive. Take Rathsallagh’s event at €35 for 18-holes plus lunch thrown in. Knightsbrook is €40 but that’s 36-holes and lunch.” Says Hill.
Emphasis has also been placed on creating an online community where players will gain access to dedicated blogs, chat forums and news at

March-October, 2010 - Handicap limit: nine and below.
Cost of registration is free.
Cost of competition entry: varies from €20-€50 per event – see website for full details.

Apr 23rd - Castle (handicaps 5-9); Apr 24th - Rosslare (5-9); May 2nd - Westport (5-9); May 3rd - Glasson (5-9); May 8th - Arklow (4 and better); May 9th - Faithlegg (5-9); May 16th - Roganstown (5-9); May 30th - Lee Valley (5-9); Jun 4th – Rathsallagh (5-9); Jun 6th - St Margaret’s (5-9); Jun 7th - Knightsbrook (4 and better); Jun 13th - Dromoland (4 and better); Jun 20th - Enniscorthy (5-9); Jun 27th - Powerscourt (5-9); Jul 4th - Faithlegg (4 and better); Jul 11th - Malahide (5-9); Jul 11th - Malahide (4 and better); Jul 18th - The Heritage (5-9); Jul 24th - Enniscrone (4 and better); Jul 24th - Enniscrone (5-9); Jul 25th - Dunmurry Springs(5-9); Aug 8th - Ashbourne (5-9); Aug 14th - Bray (4 and better); Aug 15th - Stackstown (4 and better); Aug 22nd - Mount Wolseley (5-9); Aug 29th - Galgorm Castle (4 and better); Sep 5th - Dromoland (5-9); Sep 12th - Delgany (4 and better); Sep 26th - Charlesland (5-9).