FOR the first time in three years, the championship golf season is back to normal.
Restrictions in 2020 and 2021 meant that Golf Ireland, and previously the ILGU and GUI ran a reduced calendar with championships not starting until the second half of the year.
Thankfully the possibility of closing courses over the early months of the year is very unlikely, allowing clubs and the national governing body to plan for a full season.
This has given the new governing body their first opportunity to plan for a complete season and the 2020 schedule will see increased opportunities for men, women, boys and girls to compete together in National Championships.
Ireland’s best Senior golfers will converge on Thurles GC in May to play in the Irish Senior Men’s & Women’s Amateur Close Championships.
The event will see Karl Bornemann from Douglas defend his title in the mens event.
For the first time ever, the best boys and girls in the country will come together in a National Championship as Kilkeel GC hosts the Irish Boys & Girls Amateur Close Championships from 28 June to 1 July.
The Irish Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship has been created, and will be played alongside the Men’s competition at Blainroe GC in September 2022.
As well as staging female and male events together, Golf Ireland have also announced the creation of the Irish Disability Open Championship, which will be played for the first time in 2022.
2022’s Inter-Club season will see the AIG Men’s and Women’s Senior Cup champions crowned at Tramore GC in early September. Knightsbrook and PGA National Slieve Russell will also host All-Ireland Inter-Club Finals later in September.
The provincial championships all return to their regular spots in the calendar with the West taking place in April and the East returning to it’s June date.
The South and the North both take place in July. Following his successful 2021 season, Peter O’Keeffe will look to defend his Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship at The Island in mid-May, followed by the AIG Irish Men’s Amateur Close Championship at Headfort GC in mid-August.
Speaking about the schedule, for the upcoming season, Golf Ireland’s Director of Championships Mark Wehrly said; “We’re excited to be able to provide more high-profile opportunities to showcase men’s and women’s golf together at the highest competitive levels in Ireland.
"Last year, for the first time, men’s and women’s inter-club finals were staged together and the atmosphere was fantastic.
Locally, a number of dates have been confirmed.
The boys and girls schools qualifiers kick off the Munster season in March with Cobh set to host the senior and junior Cork qualifiers in mid-March. The Munster Strokeplay returns to its usual place in the calendar over the May bank holiday weekend.
The 72-hole strokeplay will benefit from a full field in 2022 having to restrict entries when it took place late in the season last year.
May will be a busy month as the Munster seniors takes place in Dungarvan in early May and Douglas will host the Irish Seniors Open in Douglas over three days from the 18th to 20th of May.
With the national calendar now published, it’s likely that clubs will begin to confirm dates for scratch cups in the coming weeks.
Fota Island’s Keith Crowley was in action in Dubai last weekend, he played in the Emirates Amateur Open.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2021 winner Paul Buckley, Crowley was in action on the famous courses in Dubai Golf Club, the Falso and Maljis. Crowley had a very positive start on the Faldo course on the first day.
He carded a 72 including three birdies and an eagle to finish in fourth place. On day two he was in action on the famous Maljis course which hosts the Dubai Desert Classic.
Crowley had a tough front nine and was out in 41 but a much better back nine saw him secure a top ten finish in the elite amateur event.
John Murphy was also in tournament action last week. He wrapped up two weeks of training in Portugal with an appearance at the Algarvian Pro Am.
Murphy finished in fourth place in the professional side of the event, shooting impressive rounds of 63 and 68 in the 72 hole event. His team were also well placed with a third-place finish.
It was an important tune-up for the second-year professional, his Challenge Tour season gets underway in February with four tournaments in South Africa.
The highlight of Murphy’s week came earlier when he received an invitation to the AT&T Pro-Am in California.
Murphy will join the show-piece PGA Tour event which takes place at the famous Pebble Beach links with rounds on Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Monterey Peninsula CC.
Murphy spent a few weeks in the US prior to Christmas and built up his network of contacts while practicing.
He was advised to contact the AT&T Tournament Director with a letter of request and there was a positive response from Steve John.
“Thankfully the Tournament Director was generous enough to accept the request. He sent me a text a few days ago to confirm I was in and it was certainly some nice news to get. It’s very exciting, especially as it’s something I didn’t really expect.
"I’m very lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s a great opportunity to have and I’m looking forward to trying to make the most of it.”