West of Ireland
The Radisson Blu Sligo sponsored West of Ireland Golf Championship takes place at the Co Sligo GC at Rosses Point on 14th-18th April with a pre Qualifier on the 12th April
The inaugural West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship was held in August 1923. The first winner, from a field of 42 competitors was Larry Vernon who was home from South Africa on holidays. J Lindsay Crabbe, affectionately known as Bonzo, a member of Foxrock G.C. was the second winner in 1924, the year he also won the South of Ireland.
In earlier years, the championship was decided over 36 holes and was dominated by two of the greats of Irish Amateur golf – Joe Carr from Sutton and Co. Sligo’s own Cecil Ewing. Between them they contested in the final on 24 occasions, with Carr winning 12 titles to Ewing’s 10.
John Burke from Lahinch had the distinction of winning on six occasions, while in more recent times Garth McGimpsey (Walker Cup player and Captain) won the event on four occasions.
The ‘West’ is now the first Major competition on the amateur golfing calendar and is the traditional start of the competitive season for leading amateur golfers.
Today, the event is decided following 36 holes of qualifying strokeplay, with the top 64 players going head to head over six rounds of matchplay with the champion emerging after five days of golf.
All of Ireland’s international amateur golfers and practically all of our present day professionals have played in the West of Ireland Championship.
Three times Major Champion Padraig Harrington won his first senior title at the West of Ireland in 1994, while Rory McIlroy was the youngest ever winner of the West in 2005 at the tender age of 15, and made it a double by winning again in 2006.
In 2008 Shane Lowry claimed the coveted title. A year later he became only the third amateur to win a European Tour title when he captured the ‘3’ Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club in Baltray, turning pro shortly after.
The course at Rosses Point has recently completed phase 1 of its revitalisation project. This has included significant changes to including a new green on the third hole, green extensions to 1, 2, 5, 7 and 18; new tees on 5, 10 and 11, plus a plethora of new bunkers on 2, 6, 7, 8 and 12.
To name a few …. There is Alex Gleeson the current holder of the Irish Amateur Close Champion, Alex is a product of the club’s renowned Junior Boys Golf programme that is now in the capable hands of another great character, Robert Fitzpatrick.
There is also Colin Campbell from Warrenpoint the current holder of the Irish Amateur Open and Jonathan Yates is back in Yeats County to defend his title from last year.
And of course, the holder of the North of Ireland Championship, County Sligo’s own Sean Flanagan.
The victorious County Sligo GC Senior Cup panel members will be competing this year and eager to prove it at individual level.
Washing Machine Challenge
Rory Mc Ilroy is famous for his golfing achievements the world and his association with County Sligo and the West of Ireland has already been mentioned. As a nine-year-old he was on the Kelly programme on UTV where he showed how he practiced in his back garden by chipping in to an old washing machine. And so the Washing Machine Challenge will take place on Saturday, April 8, at 6pm at the golf club. Included will be several of the top players competing in the West such as Sean Flanagan, Robin Dawson and Alex Gleeson. It should be a great fun event and will help raise money for the recently formed Rosses Point Development Association.