GOLF Ireland’s inter-club competitions are set to start next month and the 2021 event is bringing a few changes.
Golf Ireland has replaced the GUI and ILGU, and the traditional Cups and Shields events will now be known as the Inter-Club competitions.
The traditional weekend-long qualifiers will no longer be a feature of the inter-club events, the home and away format will continue in 2021 and the Munster finals are also consigned to history with a new East Munster and West Munster competition structure replacing the provincial format.
With golf only returning at the end of April, clubs will now be busy planning for the upcoming competitions.
In all there are 23 inter-club events scheduled for the coming months.
With the first rounds taking place next month, it promises to be an exciting few months for clubs, as they each hope to progress and claim a new Golf Ireland pennant.
There are nine mens events and nine womens events along with the mixed foursomes.
There are three boys events and one girls event scheduled in the list of 23.
The draws for each of the matchplay events were published recently and several of these get underway in June.
A new eight region system is set to replace the previous provincial structure in mens golf, with each of the eight regional winners progressing to the national quarter finals.
The ILGU five district structure has also been remodelled into the eight region structure to balance the number of clubs in each region.
Leinster will now have three regions, Munster and Ulster will have two, and Connacht will be run as one region.
Munster will be split in an East – West format but given the size of the province there is still going to be some travel involved for clubs.
The vast majority of Cork clubs have been placed in Munster East. Charleville, Doneraile, Kanturk, Berehaven and Glengarriff are in the West section but the remaining 23 Cork clubs are in the East.
That includes Bantry and Skibbereen which will mean a long journey as the home and away format is to be continued.
The home and away format will also apply to ladies events. Last year ILGU clubs voted not to hold the 2020 inter-club events so 2021 will be the first time that they will use the home and away format.
The format was deemed to be a success this year and a recent Golf Ireland statement confirmed the continuation of the approach.
In planning for the 2021 events Golf Ireland announced that all 2021 Inter-Club matches will be held on a home and away basis until the Area Final.
They stated that like 2020 that “this will mean one leg matches only, i.e. where there are five matches – three will be home & two away; where there are three matches – two will be home & one away etc.
“It is felt that this approach is prudent and appropriate due to the ongoing uncertainty in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Although inter-club events would normally start in early May, the home and away scheduling allows multiple events to take place concurrently and the area finals are all scheduled for August.
Fermoy, East Cork, Kanturk, Douglas, Mitchelstown, Cork and Raffeen Creek are all scheduled to host area finals.
Golf Ireland had the additional complication of working with the new World Handicap system in 2021.
At the time of the WHS launch a few months ago, it was said that low handicapped golfers may receive a lower handicap index while high handicappers may receive a higher allowance.
Working with data from previous years, new allowances for 2021 were announced and it seemed like the objective was to ensure that the new allowances would match as closely as possible to the Congu handicap limits and allowances.
The previous requirement to have a minimum number of qualifying scores has been removed for 2021 and in all cases where a maximum or minimum handicap index is required, it is the exact handicap index on the 1st of January will be used.
Course handicaps or playing handicaps will not be used as qualification criteria.
The Barton Shield, Mens Senior Cup and Womens Senior Cup continue to be played off scratch.
All three competitions have a requirement that players must have a current handicap index and in the case of the Womens Senior Cup, a limit of 14.0 is in place.
In the Womens Junior Cup the lowest handicap limit is 7.5 and in the Mens Junior Cup the limit is 2.5.
For the Womens Senior Foursomes, players must have a handicap index of less than 14.0, but the combined handicap cannot be lower than 12.0.
For the Junior Foursomes the lower limit is 13.0 and the combined total must equal 28.0 or higher.
On the Mens side the Jimmy Bruen has a lower limit of 3.5 when the combined limit is not lower than 14.0.
Comparing that to 2020, the lowest handicap limit was 5, with a combined minimum of 15 in place. In the Pierce Purcell Shield the individual limit is 10.5 when the combined minimum is 25.
Interestingly there has been no change in the Mixed Foursomes, with the lowest combined minimum remaining at 19.0.
As in previous years there will be a limit on the playing handicap a pair can use, that has been set at 15.0 and full details will be provided in the tournament regulations. The Country Clubs remains Munster only event.
The competition limited to nine hole courses will see a minimum handicap limit of 9.5 introduced for 2021.
The Country Clubs as well as the Mixed Foursomes was one of the events not to be played in 2020 so their return will be welcomed this summer.