Royal Portrush have announced a major new 36 hole, one day Scratch Cup for men and women.
Among those who have entered for the Zara Bolton and Ian Bamford Scratch Cups are Curtis Cup squad member Beth Coulter, Deirdre Smith (Co Louth), a former Irish Women’s Close champion and two of last year’s provincial men’s title winners, Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin) and TJ Ford (Co Sligo)
Forty five women and forty five men will tee off in alternate three balls on the Dunluce and Valley courses on Sunday, April 10, for an inaugural event which embraces Golf Ireland’s policy of greater inclusivity as part of its strategic plan to grow the sport at all amateur levels.
Roma English, captain of the Ladies’ Branch, said the decision by the club to inaugurate such a prestigious joint event was inspirational and underpinned the ethos and aspiration of Golf Ireland by promoting and supporting inclusivity and equality in the sport.
She added: “We have every confidence that the combined format will emerge as one of the province’s most prestigious club events and will entice entries from the top women and men amateur golfers. We are really thrilled to be hosting this wonderful new event, and it is with anticipation, and a frisson of excitement, that we look forward to welcoming them to Royal Portrush.”
Ian Kerr, the Royal Portrush captain said: “The club has a long and rich history of female and male golfing champions and events dating back to its foundation in 1888, and this new tournament honours two of our finest amateur international players, Zara Bolton and Ian Bamford. “We are proud to launch an event which will provide momentum to the work of Golf Ireland in delivering equality and inclusivity in golf throughout Ireland.”
Zara Bolton was a three times Curtis Cup captain. She was captain of the team which won at Princes, Kent in 1956. An English international from London she settled in Portrush in 1939 after playing in the British Ladies Amateur championship. She was a former captain and president of the Ladies’ Branch which has hosted the Zara Bolton Scratch Cup since 1986.
Ian Bamford is a two time winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Championship. He is a former Royal Portrush captain and was president of the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1993, the same year he became a member of the R & A.
Beth Coulter retained the Irish Girls Close Championship last year when she also finished runner-up in the Irish Women’s Close and the Girls Amateur. Deirdre Smith, a former Irish Women’s Close title holder, is a three times winner of the Zara Bolton Scratch Cup and is the current holder.
Laura Webb (Royal Portrush), winner of this year’s Spanish Senior Women’s Championship and Lisburn’s Paula Grant, twice the Irish Close champion are also among the entries. Hugh Foley won the West of Ireland and TJ Ford, the South of Ireland last year.
Brandon St John (Portmarnock) winner of the Ulster Under-18 boys and former East of Ireland and Irish Amateur Open winner Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), as well as James Hewitt (Tandragee) who shot 62 on the Valley while qualifying for the North of Ireland last year are also among the entries for the event which carries £3,100 in prize money.
Special commemorative medals will also go to the winners. The event is being sponsored by Basil Knipe Electrics & Causeway Golf Centre; Ramore Restaurants; Robinson Interiors and Skerries Holiday Park.