THERE’S just a week to go to Kinsale’s Pro Shop Challenge — the fourth staging of the annual charity fundraiser.
And there’s a change this year with Kinsale’s two amateur internationals taking on the Pros. The Kinsale Pro team remains the same. Ger Broderick and Ian Stafford are currently in training in the hope of winning back the title they lost last year.
The line-up on the other side has changed though, the amateurs are now restyled as the ‘internationals’ with 14-year-old Eoghan Cassidy teaming up with senior Irish international John Murphy. Murphy is currently on the senior Irish team while Cassidy is on both the Irish U14 and U16 squads.
It takes place next Thursday, and there should be a great afternoon of golf and fun.
“The event itself is a fourball betterball match between Ger and myself and John Eoghan,” said Ian Stafford who came up with the idea four years ago.
“There will be several side challenges the usual banter which is entertaining and borderline controversial. But it will of course add to the festival atmosphere on the day.
“There is no charge to watch the event with members, non-members, golfers and non-golfers all invited to attend. The side challenges will include total birdie bonuses, eagles bonuses, closest to the hole on par 3s all of which have been sponsored by local businesses.
“It’s rumoured that a Kinsale member has pledged a substantial amount that the two pros will be out-driven by both their opposition partners on any given hole. And it is also rumoured that the pros have been doing a lot of training offsite, including warm-weather training trips, in order to stay under the radar.”
Whatever the truth about extra training, it must be remembered that two years ago the pros taught the amateurs a lesson with a win that surprised many including their opponents. Kinsale’s teaching professional Ian Stafford has been the driving force behind the event, from a small start in 2016, the event has raised well over €11,000 for the charity partners.
Keen to keep the event moving, Ian proposed a change to the format this year.
“This year we are celebrating the fact that Kinsale Golf Club has had two international golfers in the past twelve months giving the match its title ‘The Internationals versus The Pros’,” said Ian.
“John Murphy is returning for his 4th PSC having represented Ireland in the European Team Championships, the Eisenhower Trophy and he also made his debut for the GB&I St Andrews Trophy Team last year.
“The +5 handicapper is also a member of this year’s Walker Cup Panel. Eoghan Cassidy will be making his first appearance in the PSC, the reigning Connacht U14 and Munster U13 Champion is a current international at both U14 and U16 level and is one of the rising stars of the Irish golf circuit.”
Over the years there have been several beneficiaries including Kinsale RNLI, Special Olympics and Marymount. This year the two beneficiaries will be Marymount and the Jack and Friends Centre. Stafford added that Marymount need to raise €3.5m in external funding in 2019 to maintain the current level of outstanding service they provide. The Jack and Friends centre is a Bandon- based charity, supporting children and their families who are living with autism and other developmental disabilities.
The centre is run by volunteers and as they do not receive government funding, they rely on fundraising to remain open. The centre currently supports 90 families, providing subsidised occupational and play therapy, social clubs and sports classes.
This year there’s also a great prize draw, and tickets are available from the pro shop in Kinsale. First prize is a modern robotic lawnmower sponsored by Douglas Forest and Garden.
There’s also signed Republic of Ireland soccer jersey and a signed yardage book from James Sugrue’s win in the Amateur Championship in Portmarnock. Tickets are also available online from www.isgolfcoaching.com.
This year’s event has been moved to August from the normal date in June to facilitate the busy amateur calendar. Murphy has had a busy two months since his return from Kentucky, playing in Ireland, England and Scotland. Cassidy too has a busy summer schedule which includes Boys Championships all over Ireland, international events, and the Boys inter-provincials.
While there are many local businesses and members sponsoring and supporting the event, there are a few important sponsors who are back on board from last year. Footjoy will once again be supplying clothing for the players. Word has it that the pros won the best-dressed award last year but it was scant consolation for the five-shot drubbing they suffered in the match.
Whatever the result there is sure to be a festival atmosphere, with plenty of fun and banter in Kinsale Golf Club on the day, which will also be John Murphy’s final appearance in Ireland before heading back to start his final year in college in Lousiville, Kentucky.
The course in Kinsale has also been in great condition, hosting the South Munster section of the AIG Barton Shield in July and a very successful senior scratch cup. Changes that have taken place over the past two-and-a-half years have now been completed and the removal of water from the 9th and 8th holes have seen a change to the two signature holes. Bunkers, mounds and reshaping took place to replace the water and retain the challenge.
Kinsale, of course, also have the Barton Shield Munster finals to look forward to this month, they will be in action in Tramore hoping to retain the title they won last year.