A weekend to savour as majestic Mahony’s Point hosts Munster finals

The many hundreds who turn up to support Waterford Castle, Limerick, Tralee, Cork, Adare Manor, Tramore, Muskerry, Ballybunion, Doneraile and Nenagh in next weekend’s Munster finals of the Irish Senior and Junior Cups and Barton Shield have a treat in store.

They will enjoy seeing fortunes swing to and fro on the Mahony’s Point course rather than Killeen which has become synonymous with the game in this golfing haven in recent years.

The Irish Opens of 1990 and 1991 and 2010 and 2011 were played over the Killeen layout and will be remembered as four superbly attended events that provided entertainment and excitement so typical of our national championship. And when staging other important tournaments at “Heaven’s Reflex”, the preference has usually been for Killeen with the results that its immediate neighbour has been pushed more and more into the background.

However, the Munster Branch of the GUI and the club are helping to redress what many regard as a regrettable imbalance and the certainty is that few courses would be capable of creating the kind of drama that can be safely anticipated when the matches reach the concluding stages next Saturday and Sunday.

The last six holes at Mahony’s Point remain virtually the way they were first created back in 1939 when Sir Guy Campbell, then a golf course architect of note, and Lord Castlerosse designed the layout on the Western Demesne.

The extension to 36 holes in 1971 meant that parts of the original concept were split between the new Killeen and Mahony’s Point courses and this is where many believe the latter got the better end of the deal!

Many good judges consider it a more enjoyable challenge, all the more so because of the magnificent finish. From the par five 13th with its remarkable pulpit green onward, the golfers are confronted by a series of great golfing challenges in an area of compelling beauty that has captured the imagination of visitors.

The noted British writer Pat Ward-Thomas in his delightful book “Masters of Golf” was moved to write: “Twilight was falling as we came to the 16th, where the sight of a long second shot flighting high against the purple flanks of Carrantuohill was to remain an abiding memory. This is a superb hole.”

Of the 17th, Ward-Thomas noted that “a rare stillness was upon our world as we played the hole and I shall never forget the beauty of that moment.” As for the renowned par three 18th, he observed: “Awesome tales are told of unhappy souls who have squandered victory or a good score on the pebbles awaiting the fading tee shot or the bushes which gather the one that is pulled.”

If that wasn’t enough, another great English golf scribe Henry Longhurst stated that “the best short hole in the world has one almost aching to reach it for the previous 17.”

Fortunate indeed are those who have the opportunity next weekend to tread this wonderful golfing territory, especially when so much is at stake for their respective clubs. There could be no finer arena on which to display their talents.

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