14-year old Luke Cunningham was the star of the show as event 4 of the Irish Golfer Series stopped off at the beautiful Galway Bay Golf Club on Friday.
A morning drizzle soon blew over but for the 120 competitors teeing it up on the day, the golf course soon transformed into a true test as a three-club wind threatened to blow the players off their feet.
One young man who looked at home in the blustery conditions, however, was Galway Bay junior, Cunningham, who returned a superb 39 points playing off 2 to take home the Category One prize. The Connacht interprovincial player fired a wind-defying one-under par 71 off the stick to beat Ger Farragher’s admirable 36 points into second.
“I was very happy, it was very windy,” said Cunningham, who took home a Taylormade M5 Tour Driver for the win. “Once you got to the back nine there were some holes that were very hard to control irons and drivers on. Just when we went out, the wind started to pick up and when we were beside the coast on some of the holes, it was so windy.”
All the more impressive then that Cunningham’s under par round happened to be his best one yet!
“My best around there was about level or one-over so it was my best round. And with the conditions, I’m very happy!”
The talented Galwegian teed off at 11.20 as the wind started to bare its teeth. Back to the clubhouse after a battering, he was straight out onto the putting green alongside great friend Adam, back out onto the golf course as the wait continued, back into the clubhouse to see how his score was holding up and back out to the golf course again for more punishment! The golfing bug is strong with this one.
“I started playing when I was around 10,” Cunningham reflected. “It was really my Granny who got me into it; she was always playing golf. She decided to bring me out to the golf course and I played with her and my friend Adam [Challoner] who I played with yesterday, he started as well so we both took off from there and played all the time.
“We started with around a 20 handicap and tried to get it down and get better as quickly as possible. In our golf club, we only have a small club, we have David Kitt who’s off +2. We really looked up to him – he was a role model and such a good golfer; he did so well growing up and we’d always ask him for tips and advice which was great for us.”
However, the big question remained; why wasn’t the 14-year old at school instead of picking on an Irish Golfer field of adults, the majority of whom went away feeling very inadequate about their golf games having witnessed Cunningham’s masterclass?
“I really wanted to play and Mam was talking to me about it and I was just kind of like, ‘what time will I book a tee-time?’ and I saw 11.20 and I was like, ‘oh yeah yeah, I’ll book it there!’
“And I remember Mam told me, ‘so you’re not going to school?’ and I was like, ‘I completely forgot I had school!’ We had it booked and sure it’s alright like, I’m only in second year so I wasn’t going to miss too much. I was very happy to play!
“And to win the driver was great. The shaft is perfect. It’s a hazardous 70 gram shaft, the smoke one. It’s a good shaft like so I’m looking forward to using it.”
If any of Luke’s teachers are reading this, go easy on him on Monday please. He was busy dishing out his own lessons to over 120 adults on the golf course on Friday and they all learned a thing or two from the class on show.
Meanwhile, there were other prizes to be decided and another win for Galway Bay as Shane Connolly added an M6 Taylormade Tour Driver to his bag when he pipped Seamus Crowe on the back nine with 37 points off 15.
In the Ladies competition, New Forest’s Deirdre O’Connor took top honours and a Kalea Driver to go with it when she returned a superb 39 points off 23 to edge Catherine Owens by a single point with Lisa Howe taking 3rd while also collecting the ladies long drive.
While in the Gross Competition, with Cunningham taking Category One, Lar Ryan’s 74 which included seven birdies on a difficult day for scoring was enough to claim the win.
As always, thanks to everyone for taking part at Galway Bay and for making the day so enjoyable.
The next event is in Bunclody on Sunday June 9th and the timesheet is now open to book HERE
Galway Bay Results, Friday 24th May 2019
CATEGORY 1 (Handicap – up to 11)
1st Prize – TaylorMade M5 Tour Driver – Luke Cunningham 39 points off 2
2nd Prize – TaylorMade M5 Tour 3 wood – Ger Farragher 36 points off 10 (BB9)
3rd Prize – TaylorMade 60 degree Hi-Toe wedge – Michal Cihanek 36 points off 10
CATEGORY 2 (Handicap 12-24)
1st Prize – TaylorMade M6 Driver – Shane Connolly 37 points off 15 (BB9)
2nd Prize – TaylorMade M6 3 wood – Seamus Crowe 37 points off 18
3rd Prize – TaylorMade 60 degree Hi-Toe wedge – Paul O Donnell 33 points off 18
LADIES CATEGORY (Handicap up to 36)
1st Prize – TaylorMade Kalea Driver – Deirdre O Connor 39 points off 23
2nd Prize – TaylorMade Kalea 3 wood – Catherine Owens 38 points off 13
3rd Prize – TaylorMade Kalea Rescue – Lisa Howe 36 points off 18
Nearest the Pin – 7th HOLE
Motocaddy S1 Digital Electric Trolley – Seamus Crowe with a distance of 2 feet 3 inches
Longest Drive – 18th HOLE
LADIES – TaylorMade 2019 Stand Bag – Lisa Howe
GENTS – TaylorMade 2019 Stand Bag – Ger Farragher
Evnroll ER1 Putter or Golfbuddy LR7 Laser – Lar Ryan, 74