For the first time, an Irish Men’s and Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship will be held this weekend, with Blainroe Golf Club hosting the inaugural event.
A core event on the traditional men’s calendar for several years, the Irish Men’s Mid-Amateur is open to players aged 30 years or older, with Paul O’Hanlon (Carton House), James McLoughlin (Portumna) and Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas) winning the last three iterations of the championship.
The women’s event has been introduced alongside the men’s this year under the governance of Golf Ireland and a competitive field have assembled for the occasion.
AIG Irish Men’s Close Champion Quentin Carew (Castleknock) headlines the men’s field, with the Edenderry native hoping to go one better than his runner-up finish in 2021.
“Last year was my first time playing the Mid-Amateur and I came second,” explained Carew. “I remember from the moment I got there it felt much more relaxed than other events. All the lads who I grew up playing with but hadn’t seen for a while were there. Although it’s still competitive, it was more relaxed and enjoyable, that was the help last year for me.”
Expectations have clearly shifted for Carew since his win at Headfort in August, but in true Mid-Amateur style, it’s all a balancing act.
“It’s a different experience getting phone calls like this for interviews and stuff, but it’s been good, the last few weeks have been busy with work as well so it’s getting the balance.
“It took a couple of weeks for it to sink in really – everything was still up in the air with other events to play, work, and we had the Barton Shield finals a week or so later, so I had to put the win in the back of the mind.
“But the runner-up last year and the Close win this year gives me confidence going into this week, hopefully one more good week before we finish for the year.”
Maria Dunne (Skerries) is the stand-out name in the women’s field, with the 2016 Curtis Cup star making her first appearance in a national championship since she won the Irish Women’s Amateur Open at Co. Louth in 2017.
“I’m delighted to see a Mid-Amateur for women and men together,” said Dunne. “There definitely was a gap, I was looking at some of the women’s events this year for example and there was nobody in their 30’s or 40’s playing.
“The opportunity to be competitive and play alongside the men where tee-times are all integrated and it’s all one tournament, I love.”
Dunne now works with Golf Ireland as a Regional Development Officer, with the role of encouraging and inspiring others to take up the game.
“I’m really excited to play,” she continued. “My priorities in life are different, I have two kids, so practice is lot more limited. But to prepare for this week it got me back playing in weekly competitions in Skerries. I’ve been going to the club to play a few holes and do some practice, but I’m doing it for the headspace. Golf is now my break away.
“I have no expectations, I am going to try and put a couple of good rounds together. Competing isn’t the word I use anymore, but I’m excited to play. ‘Enjoy the walk’ was my mantra towards the end of my competitive career so that’s what I’ll be trying to do this weekend.”
The Irish Men’s and Women’s Mid-Amateur begins from Friday and will be played over 54 holes, with a cut after 36 on Saturday evening.