The Ulster Men’s And Women’s Stroke Play hold a unique place on the Golf Ireland calendar.
This year’s Championships take place on Monday and Tuesday at Belvoir Park in Belfast. The top-two men, and women’s champion will be offered spots to the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.
An event co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour, the three players will compete at Galgorm Castle and Massereene with the world’s elite.
Robert Moran and Aideen Walsh return to defend the titles they won last year at Royal County Down in what was the first Championships run under Golf Ireland.
Moran came from seven shots behind going into the final round to defeat Rowan Lester in a three-hole play-off. The Castle golfer is looking forward to defending a title for the first time in his career.
“It’ll feel like a different tournament to last year. Playing on a parkland course like Belvoir Park, will be a different test to what we saw at Royal County Down,” Moran said.
“There are very few amateur events in Europe that offer professional starts. It’s a brilliant incentive going into this week. It’d be nice to get back to the tournament again this summer.”
Walsh’s win at Royal County Down was a little more straightforward than her Castle counterpart. The Lahinch golfer won the Women’s competition by eight shots.
“It was my first ever win and kickstarted a really good year for me. The win was a major confidence booster, and made me realise I was more than capable of competing at that level,” Walsh said.
“Getting the chance to play an LET event was brilliant. I learned so much from seeing how the pros prepare for events, let alone play in them. It was an excellent experience.”
The Ulster Men’s And Women’s Stroke Play is played over 54 holes with two rounds taking place on Monday. The top-36 men and top-18 women will then play their final rounds on Tuesday, before two winners are crowned.
Along with places in August’s ISPS Handa World Invitational, the Championships also form part of the Men’s and Women’s Bridgestone Tours.