Support for Irish amateur golf can benefit from disillusion at Tour level

Ronan MacNamara

The Ireland team pose prior to the Women's and Men's Home Internationals at Ballyliffin Golf Club on August 2, 2022 in Donegal, Ireland. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/R&A via Getty Images)

The ‘support your local’ mantra doesn’t just apply to football. Irish amateur golf is on the rise and provides top class sport on your doorstep so why not grab a slice of the drama this year.

2022 was a roaring success for amateur golf in this country. Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley became the first man since Darren Clarke in 1990 to win the North and South of Ireland Championships in the same year while Malone’s Matthew McClean made big waves on the world stage by winning the US Mid-Amateur title in Erin Hills – beating Hugh Foley in the decider.

McClean impressed at Augusta National earlier this month despite missing the cut at the Masters.


Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter made history in becoming the first player to win a hat trick of Irish Girls Close titles and became the first to hold both the Girls and Women’s titles in the same year.

Coulter has also impressed on her freshman year in Arizona State, picking up a second place finish in the States.

Castlewarden’s Lauren Walsh was in fine form this year for Wake Forest and will be a big player for the Deacs in the National Championships.

Arguably the story of last year was Quentin Carew’s Irish Close victory in what was a real David beats Goliath moment. Stories which are few and far between in modern professional sport.

Ireland punches far above its weight when it comes to professional golf and we will end 2023 having had at least four players in the major championships which is a fantastic achievement with McClean due to tee it up in the US Open later this summer.

The ongoing saga between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf – while it has drawn up thrilling storylines at times – is all about money to the point where it actually becomes exhausting and shows how far out of touch with reality top level golf is.

“With LIV and all this, every week is like money, how much are these guys getting, money, money all over. The Masters is good but the money is better this year. It’s getting tiring listening to them talking about money now,” said Hugh Foley.

Amateur golf is just as enjoyable, admission is free and it’s on your doorstep on some of the best courses in the world. Ireland has some fabulous golf courses which host our championships.

After a triumphant year for amateur golf in this country our championships are now attracting stellar fields with up to fifty five international competitors venturing to the Island for next month’s Irish Amateur Open Championship while Scottish starlet Lorna McClymont will defend her Women’s Irish Amateur title at Woodbrook a week later with a deep field also due.

“We’re in a period at the moment where the men and women have been going abroad so it’s nice to see an international field come back and play our events it encourages people to play abroad when they can,” said the Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan.

Walker Cup contenders Arron Edwards-Hill, John Gough, West of Ireland champion James Claridge, Harley Smith, Dylan Shaw-Radford, Josh Berry and Connor Graham make the trip across the pond next month.

The North of Ireland is contested in Royal Portrush which can hold its own in any conversation about what the best golf course in the world is.

Both the men’s and women’s amateur circuits will be providing free, top quality and high drama golf full of emotion and passion which can be lacking from what is served up on our television screens every weekend.

Coverage of Irish amateur golf is also on the rise. Local radio stations braved the weather at Rosses Point earlier this month while RTE News did a piece on Liam Nolan’s breakthrough win at the South American Amateur Championship.

We are fortunate in Ireland to have high quailty sport at our fingertips with GAA, amateur golf and the League of Ireland.

In fact, the League of Ireland is the foundation of the ‘support your local’ slogan. And it’s not the only parallel that can be found within domestic football and amateur golf in this country.

League of Ireland attendances are on the rise with a 27% increase on this time last year. Golf has experienced a post COVID boom but with the infamous European Super League refusing to go away in conjunction with the sickening sums of money being flaunted in the Premier League, many football fans in this country have grown disillusioned by events in football across the water that they have now turned to the turnstiles on a Friday night in the League of Ireland.

Irish amateur golf can benefit from a similar disgruntlement from golf fans at the out of touch PGA and LIV Tours and crowds are certainly on the up.

The level of our own amateurs is strong and international players are starting to frequently flock back to Irish shores now that post Covid travel is back to normal.

The reputation of the League of Ireland has grown across the UK and Europe and likewise Irish amateur golf.

“Irish amateur golf is brilliant. I’ve played regional events in Scotland, England and Wales and there’s nothing like the support Irish Amateur golf gets, it’s brilliant. To have people covering it because golf is mostly losses it’s great to have a few pieces written,” said Foley.

“Some of the English and Scottish lads were commenting on the coverage we’ve been getting for events and stuff saying Irish amateur golf is unreal. They think it’s like that every time!

“Fans want to watch golf to see who wins a tournament not about the money if amateur golf was more broadcast here I wonder how many people would watch it. It’s a pure form of the game.”


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