Farewell to Kinsella, king of the Castle

One of the great dynasties of Irish professional golf celebrates a major milestone this year when David Kinsella retires after 50 years of service at Castle Golf Club.

Little did Bill Kinsella realise when he completed his apprenticeship at clubs such as Greystones, Milltown and Enniskillen and took over from Jimmy O’Hare at a then nine-hole Skerries Golf Club in 1930 that his sons Jimmy, Billy and David along with his grandson, Bobby, would follow in his footsteps as PGA professionals.

As it turned out, David’s farewell year at Castle coincided with a moment of club and family triumph at Clontarf at the weekend.

The maestro was on hand to see his son Ross play on the winning team in the final of the FBD Barton Cup, just as he did for Skerries back in 1965 before going on to join his brother Jimmy as an assistant professional at Castle, at the tender age of 16.

Old Bill has long gone to his eternal reward and while his sons Jimmy and Billy have also retired from club posts at Skerries and Woodbrook respectively, it’s now David’s turn to say goodbye to Castle.

That the family ended up in golf is no surprise and their story is hugely entertaining.

Jimmy’s dislike of school led to him turning professional at the age of 15, when he headed to the boat at North Wall to sail away to begin his apprenticeship under Bill Cox at Fulwell Golf Club, near Twickenham in London.

“Joe Carr had recommended me to Mr Cox,” Jimmy recalled.

“So I went to get the boat and my mother was there and she saw my face and she said, ‘You don’t have to go.’ And I said, ‘If I stay, do I have to go to school?’ And she says, ‘You do.’ And I said: ‘I’m going.’”

He lasted three months but a chance meeting with Christy O’Connnor at Sunningdale led to a move to Bundoran as O’Connor Snr’s assistant before he moved onto Castle in 1960 as assistant to the great Willie Holley.

Jimmy took over as head professional in 1966, when David came on board as his assistant.

David became head professional when Jimmy went on tour in 1972 and he would become one of the most respected teachers in the history of Irish golf with a who’s who of great players on his CV, including future European Tour winners Paul McGinley, Damien McGrane and Peter Lawrie.

Heart trouble forced Jimmy to give up tour golf in 1975 and he took over from his father Bill when he retired after 46 years as head professional at Skerries and remained there for another 30 years until his son Bobby took over in 2006.

As David recalls, the Kinsella love of sport all goes back to those early days in Skerries, where there was nothing to do but play every game under the sun as his older brother Sean got help from club member Sean Lemass and bought a fishing boat that allowed him to bring money home that enabled the other brothers to “fart around” playing golf.

“Skerries was brilliant,” David recalls. “I played football, ¦Gaelic, soccer and rugby. I won the Joe Carr Trophy at Bettystown the first time it was played and then in 1963 I won the Lord Mayor’s Cup and the Barton Cup with Skerries.

That’s all I ever did as an amateur. I came here (to Castle) at 16 to be the assistant to Jimmy. For whatever reason, I thought I was good but it never happened for me as a tournament player so I became the pro here at 22 because Jimmy was keen on playing the tour.

They offered me the job on the proviso I didn’t travel the world.” Jimmy went on to win the 1972 Madrid Open as David became Leinster coach for 12 years, captained the PGA in 1984 and continued to work at Castle, where he has been a much loved member of staff for half a century.

Don’t let great scratch cups fade away

Golf clubs that run some of the huge scratch cups of yesteryear should not give up the ghost and let those events fade away.

The Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy got a mention as far afield this year as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron last month, where Shane Lowry won just a week after his brother Alan triumphed in faraway Co Westmeath.

Last Sunday, it was the turn of Naas’s Jonathan Yates to enter the winner’s circle in style, equalling the course record set by former South of Ireland champion John Greene with four under 66 in the final round and claim a four-shot victory in the prestigious Midlands Scratch Cup on two over 282.

Carlow Golf Club boasts one of Ireland’s great championship layouts and with the event now a 72-hole tournament once more, it deserves an even better field to go with its list of great winners.

JB Carr (1950, ‘51, ‘53, ‘54, ‘62, ‘63), Cecil Ewing (1956), Tom Craddock (1959, ‘65, ‘69), Ronnie Shade (1966), Declan Branigan (1975), Mark Gannon (1971, ‘78, ‘84, ‘86, ‘92), Peter McEvoy (1981, ‘82, ‘83, ‘88), Pádraig Harrington (1993, ‘94) and Dessie Morgan (2003, ’08) are just some of the big names to lift the famous old trophy.

With so much top class sport on offer these days, the club would do well to make the event more attractive to sponsors, and increase their media coverage, with timely advance publicity for entries and the draw, not to mention prompt and regular, full scoring updates.

R&A’s Walker Cup captaincy poser

Nigel Edwards will be Great Britain and Ireland’s non-playing captain for an unprecedented third successive match at Royal Lytham and St Annes next weekend, bringing the vexed question of a successor into the open again.

Of course, the Welshman may well be asked to do the job for a fourth time and given his full-time role as performance director for England Golf, he’s one of the few people who can do his day job and give the Walker Cup role his full commitment.

Former Walker Cup players who would have enough time to watch dozens of top amateur events over two years are thin on the ground, or almost non-existent.

Six-time capped Gary Wolstenholme, now on the European Seniors Tour, was talking about the subject last week and once again, he rolled out that line about a tour pro such as Colin Montgomerie or Pádraig Harrington giving the role a boost.

Wolstenholme’s suggestion in the Scottish press that Harrington would “would love to do it” and would “grab it with both hands” was clearly wishful thinking, given that the Dublin native is still playing on tour and would do nothing to dent his chances of a Ryder Cup captaincy.

Had Wolstenholme suggested Paul McGinley, we might have been more convinced given that he’s already done a Ryder Cup and actually travelled to see Ireland win the Home Internationals at Southerndown, Wales in 2014.

With players now loathe to hang around in the amateur game and play even one Walker Cup, finding suitable candidates for the voluntary, non-playing captain’s role is clearly a headache for the R&A.

Wolstenholme suggested Craig Watson, Stuart Wilson and Jim Milligan as possible captains but if the GB&I is searching for a former Walker Cup player with professional experience then Andrew Coltart, Nick Dougherty or even Paddy Gribben have the knowledge.

The problem is that few of them have the time. Perhaps it’s time to give Garth McGimpsey another call.


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