Connacht Strokeplay Championship Preview

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Pristine Portumna attracts a high-quality field for the Connacht Strokeplay!

Ireland’s best golfers descend on one of the country’s best parkland venue’s in the small East Galway Town of Portumna. While the country’s leading amateur stars will no doubt attract some attention, the real star of the show is Portumna Golf Club. The course has received unanimous approval from anyone this observer has spoken to and I for one cannot wait to get down there for practice tomorrow.

Lay-up or go for it on Portumna’s 17th?

Bridgestone Order of Merit

There is little doubt the quality of the venue is a major factor in attracting such a strong field, however, another huge factor is the revised GUI policy on the Bridgestone Order of Merit award. Gone are the days of awarding points for foreign events, and with two places up for grabs on the Home International’s team, our Irish Championships have received a real shot in the arm. And there is no doubting the championship status of this event with a field littered with amateur championship winners competing. The cut-off for entries was an astonishing +0.4.

Competitors

Defending champion Thomas O’Connor of Athlone is joined by other recent championship winners in Rob Brazil, James Sugrue, Reece Black, Peter O’Keefe and Sean Flannagan. The home province will look to the inform young guns, in particular, Jack McDonnell, Alan Hill, Devin Morley and David Kitt. Also, keep an eye out the home club’s favourite son James McGloughlin who shot an astonishing new course record 64 last weekend. David Reddan and Billy McGarry form local clubs Birr and Nenagh will also have plenty of support for what is, in essence, a home championship. There are also a couple of foreign invaders in the form of Samuel Ledbury from Belguim and Gregory Royston from South Africa.

The Venue

Given the quality of the field and the quality of the venue, Portumna is set to showcase a festival of golf this week. The finishing stretch from the 15th home, in the glorious sunshine, will showcase what is possible when a club comes together and does things right. The seventeenth hole, in particular, one of the best par fives you will find anywhere in the World, will surely play a pivotal role in deciding who is crowned champion on Sunday. To go for the green in two, a draw is the preferred shape of the tee, while a high fade is best suited for the second. As a three shotter, the layup is certainly a challenge and competitors will need to be very focused on their precise lay up distance. There is potential for three and maybe even four-shot swings here coming down the stretch. 

Click images to enlarge!

Portumna is a small town club that experiences the same challenges as all small provincial clubs. To be fair the golfing landscape helps but they have maximized what is on offer here. We are famed for our great links in Ireland, and rightly so, however, this author would be equally as happy to spend a day in Portumna as at any of our World Renowned links. I am sure all the competitors will love it. Hat’s off to all at Portumna who rightly will have their “day in the sun” this weekend. I can’t wait!

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