Ivan Morris Column - Adare Manor getting ready for Irish PGA

Limerick's Cian McNamara was narrowly pipped in the Irish PGA Championship last year. The event takes place in Adare this Friday. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
In this week’s Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris looks forward to the Irish PGA championship which will be held in Adare Manor next month.

In this week’s Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris looks forward to the Irish PGA championship which will be held in Adare Manor next month.

The 104th staging of the Irish PGA Championship (Total Prize Fund €30,000) will be held at the pretty and historic Adare Manor Golf Club from October 2 to October 5.

First played in 1907 and won by James Edmundson, the Championship has been a milestone in the careers of almost all of the great names in Irish professional golf down the years.

Last year, the tournament was held at Roganstown in Swords, County Dublin where Michael McGeady from Northwest GC pipped former Limerick GC stalwart, Cian McNamara (representing Monkstown GC these days) by one stroke.

Limerick golf fans will be hoping that Cian will go one better this year thanks to enjoying his Mum’s home cooking and playing on a course that he knows so well.

Other recent winners were: David Higgins (2012); Simon Thornton (2011); Padraig Harrington (1998, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009); Paul McGinley (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003); Darren Clarke (1994); Philip Walton (1987, 1989, 1991, 1995); Des Smyth (1979, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 2001.) Harry Bradshaw and Christy O’Conner Senior were victorious on ten occasions each.

Perhaps because it is the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War (1914-1918) the most tragic figure in the entire history of Irish golf should be remembered at this time also?

Michael Moran was the IPGA champion in 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912 and 1913 before he enlisted and went to France to fight in WW1. Sadly, he lost his life quite soon after arriving there.

Apart from McNamara, other contestants of special local interest are: Ian Colleran from Quin, Co. Clare who learned his golf at Dromoland and served his time as an assistant professional under Tom Murphy at Newcastlewest GC. Ian has been working at Killarney G&FC for just over 12-months and is steadily improving as a player, as can be seen from the fine 2-under par, 67 he shot in the qualifying event at Adare Manor GC a couple of weeks ago.

Another local golfer, Michael Quinlivan (Rathbane), was among the leading quartet that shot 67s that day. Four more of those and Michael and Ian could be in contention for the first prize of €3,000. Other local pros who have come through the qualifying process are: Graeme Dunlea and Gary Howie (Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort), Jamie O’Sullivan (Charleville), Shane O’Sullivan (Shannon), Patrick Sheehy (Newcastlewest), David Foley (Dromoland), the veteran swing guru, Brendan McDaid (Coonagh Driving Range) and Marian Riordan (Ballykisteen.)

If I were a betting man, I’d be considering placing a wee wager on the likes of David Higgins, Niall Kearney, Michael McDermott, Colm Moriarty, Brendan McGovern, Neil O’Briain and John Kelly as well as the holder, Michael McGeady. Late entry, John McHenry could create a surprise also.

Two wild cards (literally) worth watching might be Damian Mooney and Eamonn Brady but the narrowness of the golf course may cause those two, exceptionally long hitters some alarm.

Adare Manor Club Captain, Richard Hickey, acknowledges that it is a rare, privilege to be selected to host such a prestigious event and he, and his members, will be putting their best foot forward and welcoming Ireland’s home-based, professional golfers to one of the ‘Hidden Golfing Gems in Ireland.’ Indeed, all visitors and spectators will be made welcome at the golf course and also in Adare village.

In the late 1890’s the Earl of Dunraven employed the well-known, Scottish professional Ben Sayers to design a nine-hole golf course on his estate in Adare.

This course was completed in 1900. In 1932 the club affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland and so the solid foundations of the current club were formed. In 2010, long term, club member Sean MacMahon became President of the GUI.

Even as a nine hole course, Adare Manor Golf Club thrived and had many successes, principally the winning of the All-Ireland Pierce Purcell shield in 1985. It also produced one of Ireland’s most accomplished and decorated of amateur golfers in Jackie Harrington, the Irish Close champion in 1979.

In 1992, the late, great, messiah of Irish golf architecture, Eddie Hackett, designed the current 18-holes course but it did not open officially until 2000 when the club celebrated its centenary. A 5000-year old bog oak sculpture was erected at the back of the 18th green to commemorate this special occasion and a time capsule was buried at its base. The capsule will not be resurrected until the year 2050.

On the previous occasions the event was played in the Limerick area, the champions were: 1973 - Jimmy Kinsella at Limerick; 1961 - Christy O’Connor Senior at Lahinch; 1957 - Harry Bradshaw at Ballybunion and 1955 - Ernie Jones at Castletroy. Now, it’s the Midwest’s turn again and it would be ‘mighty’ if one of our local pros grabbed the first prize? Go out to Adare and lend them your support!