TULLAMORE, a splendid midlands course originally designed by James Braid and subsequently upgraded by Patrick Merrigan, is the venue for the finals of the Bulmers Irish Cups and Shields from September 16-19.
Clubs from all over the country have qualified for this unique festival of golf: four days of highly exciting and fascinating competition ranging from the Senior Cup aimed at the low handicappers to the Pierce Purcell Shield, catering for those who play off 12 and higher.
Tullamore marked its centenary in 1996 with the official opening of the newly upgraded course at Brookfield which was conducted by Patrick Merrigan, one of our foremost modern golf course architects and a man sympathetic to the work of James Braid. Although the move to Brookfield, part of the Charleville demesne, was instigated in 1926 and completed in 1932, Braid’s influence dates back to 1938 when the famed Scottish architect was brought in to redesign the layout.
For the centenary, Patrick Merrigan incorporated three lakes into its design along with building seven new greens, 11 new tees and 30 new bunkers. Drainage and irrigation were upgraded and 5,000 trees were planted to augment those that had been there for a century and more.
Merrigan actually did his university thesis on James Braid, one of the most influential golf course designers of his generation. The par 70 lay-out of 6,472 yards will offer competitors a worthy test. The 18th is a tree- lined par 5 that should provide its share of excitement.
The Senior Cup has traditionally been regarded as the Blue Riband and only Galway of the four semi-finalists have previously emerged as champions. They did so for the first time at Enniscrone in 2006. They will be seeking a coveted double at Tullamore as they are also through to the semi-finals of the Barton Shield, a trophy they captured for the fourth time at Shandon Park in 2007.
The other semi-finalists in the Senior Cup, Laytown & Bettystown, West Waterford and Castlerock and the Barton Shield, Banbridge, Youghal and Kilkenny, have yet to win either of the two titles.
New champions will be crowned in the Junior Cup where the protagonists are Castle, Oughterard, Malone and Tipperary and the same applies to the Jimmy Bruen Shield (Carrick-on-Shannon, Waterford, Nenagh and Foyle) and Pierce Purcell Shield (Corrstown, Douglas, Letterkenny and Loughrea).
Tullamore programme: Wednesday, Sept 16: Barton Shield semi-finals: (10.30): Galway v Banbridge; (10.50) Youghal v Kilkenny.
Irish Junior Cup semi-finals: (11.10): Castle v Oughterard; (12pm) Malone v Tipperary.
Thursday: Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals: (8am): Corrstown v Douglas; (8.50) Letterkenny v Loughrea; (11am) Junior Cup final; (12pm) Barton Shield final.
Friday: Irish Senior Cup semi-finals (8.30): Galway v Laytown & Bettystown; (9.20) Castlerock v West Waterford; (10.30am) Pierce Purcell Shield final; (12pm): Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals: Carrick-on-Shannon v Waterford; (12.50): Nenagh v Foyle.
Saturday: (9am) Irish Senior Cup final; (10.30): Jimmy Bruen Shield final.
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