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James Sugrue of Ireland watches his shot on the first tee box during Day One of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
James Sugrue of Ireland watches his shot on the first tee box during Day One of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
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Mallow marvel James Sugrue is honoured by Munster Golf 

THERE was a standing ovation for James Sugrue at the Annual Delegates Meeting of Munster Golf in Mallow last week, in what should be the last formal event of the GUI’s provincial branch.

The Amateur Champion was presented with a commemorative trophy by Munster Golf Chairman Jim Long, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in 2019.

Speaking after receiving the trophy, in addition to winning the Munster Senior Golfer of the Year and Senior Order of Merit awards, Sugure thanked everyone in the room for their support.

He also thanked Munster Golf for their support and all of the coaches, team managers and Captains from all of the Munster teams over the years.

It was a year to remember for the Mallow man.

He was a member of the National Senior Panel for 2019, representing Ireland in South America and South Africa in some early season events.

He achieved a top 15 finish in the Lytham Trophy, a top 20 in both the Irish Amateur and the Brabazon Trophy and also won the Castletroy Scratch Cup.

Unforgettably, James won the 124th Amateur Championship in Portmarnock on 22 June this year from a world class field becoming the second Munster man after James Bruen to achieve this notable feat.

Those achievements culminated in James’s selection on the Walker Cup team to represent Great Britain and Ireland in September.

Several invitations also issued following this monumental win including an invitation to play in the Irish Open Pro-Am and the Open Championship in Royal Portrush.

He has more to look forward to, including Georgia Cup in March 2020, the Masters in Augusta in April 2020 and the US Open in Winged foot New York in June 2020.

Muskerry’s Fionn Hickey won the Munster Junior Golfer of the Year award.

The 17-year-old impressed all season long, featuring in the top 10 in just about every championship he entered.

He tied for third placec in the Irish Boys, he was runner-up in the Ulster Boys, fourth in both the Connacht and Leinster Boys and had another top ten in the Munster Boys in Ballybunion last month.

In doing so his handicap went from 2 to +1, and this level of consistency was rewarded with his selection to the Irish Boys team for the Home Internationals in Ashburnham in Wales, where he won three of his six matches.

While much of the summer was spent in individual competition, Fionn was also a key part of the Muskerry Fred Daly Trophy team.

After winning in a competitive Cork section, Fionn and the team triumphed in Clonmel when they beat Dungarvan and Limerick to claim their second Munster title in three years.

There was further success for Cork when Lee Valley’s Mel Deasy won the Under 18 Order of Merit.

Delegates at the meeting also got a first look at how the new World Handicapping system is likely to work for Irish golfers once it’s introduced next year.

CONGU, the current handicapping rules which are in place for the home nations is set to be passed out with the new system in place from November 2020. New terminology including handicap index, course rating and slope rating were explained, as was the manner in which a playing handicap will be calculated for each round. Starting with a handicap index (which is similar to an exact handicap as it currently used) this is changed to a course handicap once the slope rating is taken into account. After that the playing handicap will reflect the playing format, including reductions such as the 90% rule for fourball better ball competitions.

In a change from the current format, the course and slope ratings will mean that higher handicap golfers will gain a greater allowance on more difficult courses. The harder the course the more strokes the high handicapper will gain. The new system works from an averaging system, taking the best eight scores from the last twenty rounds into account. Currently all rounds in counting events are automatically included in the handicap analysis with an immediate cut applying where a golfer beats the standard scratch, and an increase of 0.1 accruing above the buffer zone. The GUI and ILGU are scheduling a series of local seminars for early 2020 to inform and train club officers on the new system.

It was the final meeting of Munster Golf, in January all golf amateur administration will transition to Golf Ireland signalling a new phase for Irish Golf.

Two motions relating to that transition and the end of the Munster Branch passed with the unanimous approval delegates, and there were presentations from Golf Ireland and from the World Handicapping System. The current Officers were returned for the final time and the Provincial Council for 2020 was also elected. There are three officers from Cork on the provincial council.

Jim Long from Monkstown enters his fourth year are Chairman of the province, with Barry Lynch from Raffeen Creek retaining his role as honorary secretary. Cork’s Dave Prendergast also retains the Honorary Match & Handicapping position, although under the current Golf Ireland plans it possible that this role will become a staff position in 2020.

Cork is also well represented on the Provincial Council with seven members. John Carroll (Bandon), Phil Cooney (Lee Valley), Tom Donnelly (Youghal), Jim Lyne (Glengarriff). Sean O’Leary (Mahon), David Taylor (Muskerry) all retained their positions, and the new member of the council is Jim Kingston from Douglas. Gary Manning (Fermoy) was unsuccessful in the election.

The 17-year-old impressed all season long, featuring in the top 10 in just about every championship he entered.