Ivan Morris Column - Mid-West Alliance bang up to date in its thinking

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
ALTHOUGH in its 52nd year, and having extremely attractive prizes on offer thanks to Titleist, the Midwest Alliance is finding it increasingly difficult to attract sufficient players to its annual outings to make it a viable proposition.

ALTHOUGH in its 52nd year, and having extremely attractive prizes on offer thanks to Titleist, the Midwest Alliance is finding it increasingly difficult to attract sufficient players to its annual outings to make it a viable proposition.

At this time of the year, it seems, the majority of scratch golfers in these parts choose to hit balls on the range preferably with a Trackman nearby, rather than exposing themselves to some enjoyable blood and guts competition with their peers. If those scratchmen think that is golf, or even training for golf, they are mistaken. It may be one of the reasons why the North Munster area is lagging behind and has not produced any nationally competitive golfers for quite a while.

The Alliance has never been averse to trying something new (women are welcome and it is a 72-holes competition.) This winter the committee has decided to stage a match play event in tandem with the modified, stableford competition.

Seamus McEnery, one of the dedicated organisers behind the MWA, says: “There is no question that once golfers get their handicaps down to single figures but continue to play only in 18-hole club competitions, they stall or go backwards. Previously the alliance was 54-holes and this is our 5th year doing it over 72-holes.

The feedback is clear. Golfers struggle with managing their patience in a 4-day event. Imposing the necessary discipline and adopting a conservative approach to course management in the early rounds is a strategy that the majority find difficult. It’s a different mindset.”

I’d say even Rory was finding the 72-holes journey tough to negotiate safely in the recent Australian Open (probably because he was rusty after a lay off and jet lag.) When watching pros playing from Thursday through to Sunday every week, amateur golfers fail to appreciate the stresses and strains involved in a 4-day tournament.

Let’s be clear, the tour pros are amazing because they go through the same 72-hole routine week after week - managing their emotions and playing intelligent golf in new surroundings. Amateurs go about their search for improvement and consistency by frequently changing their equipment or taking lessons via a Trackman or similar device. Indeed, the pros also utilize ‘Trackman’ and have personal coaches in tow but the real difference is the ability to keep a score together over 72-holes. That’s how you improve the GOLFING MIND. 72-holes is the global standard. 72-holes is the ultimate test. GOLF IS A MENTAL GAME.

The Titleist Mid West Alliance is bang up to date in its thinking. It’s a shame that not enough ‘wannabee scratch golfers’ in this region haven’t the clarity of thought or the intestinal fortitude to see it in that same light.

Full marks, therefore, to the eighteen, brave and fearless warriors who have put their names forward to play in the inaugural, 2015 Mid West Alliance Scratch Match Play Tournament. Match play is a terrific format, separating winners from losers in lusty head-to-head contests. Quite frankly, there isn’t half enough match play in Irish club golf but it is STRICTLY FUN - a respite from the unrelenting grind of playing 72-holes.

Match 1 - Dave Foley (Dromoland) V. Danny Brennan (Shannon) at Dromoland; Match 2 - The winner of Eoin O’Loughlin (Spanish Point) V. Tom Saunders (Ennis) at Ennis will play Stephen Moloney (Castletroy) at Castletroy; Match 3 - David Reddan (Nenagh) V. Nicky Duggan (Dromoland) at Nenagh; Match 4 - Declan O’Leary (Dromoland) V. Paudie McGrath (P&M golf superstore) at Dromoland; Match 5 - Jason O’Leary (Dromoland) V. David Hunt (Nenagh) at Dromoland; Match 6 - Fergus Harrold (Castletroy) V Martin Ward  (P&M Golf Superstore) at Castletroy; Match 7 - The winner of Seamus McEnery (Dromoland) V. Kieran Cunnane (Woodstock) at Woodstock will play Tony Cleary (Dromoland) at Dromoland; Match 8 - Paul Carey (Nenagh) V. David McMahon (Tralee) at Nenagh.

Meanwhile, here are the results of the first stableford round, played at Dromoland: Category 1 (0-3hcp) - 1st: Tony Cleary (Dromoland), 36pts; 2nd: Ronan Mullarney (Galway), 34pts; 3rd: Dave Foley (Dromoland), 33 pts Category 2 - (4-9hcp) - 1st: Tom Saunders (Ennis), 30pts, 2nd: Brian McMahon (Dromoland), 27 pts; 3rd: Liam Pyne (Ennis) & Brian Hickey (Dromoland), 26pts.

All scores recorded are gross with the added indignity of minus 2-pts recorded for any double bogies or worse. Tony Cleary, the defending champion, managed to avoid a minus and won with a typically steady even par round. In the 4-9hcp category Tom Saunders, who is renowned for his driving accuracy, also kept a double bogey off his card to claim the top spot in his group.

Despite some torrential rain in Co. Clare in November, the extra drainage works carried out by Dromoland G.C ensured the course was in terrific condition. The gross stableford scoring system with the ‘sting’ of minus 2-points for a double bogey has added spice to the competition and was surprisingly popular. The competition due to held on November 30th had to be postponed due to fog and will be rescheduled for a date in the New Year.

Words of the Wise

I wish to goodness I knew the man who invented this infernal game. I’d strangle him. But I suppose he’s been dead for ages. Still, I could go and jump on his grave - P.G. Wodehouse