'Absolute gem' Hillview hosts All-Ireland Pitch and Putt finals

Clonmel to host 200 best players in Ireland

Jeddy Walsh

Reporter:

Jeddy Walsh

'Absolute gem' Hillview hosts All-Ireland Pitch and Putt finals

Anthony and Kevin Flynn getting in some practice at Hillview Sports Club in Clonmel, which hosts the National Gents Pitch and Putt Strokeplay Finals on this Saturday and Sunday.

Hillview Sports Club in Clonmel will be the epicentre this weekend for the sport of Pitch and Putt in Ireland as the club stages the National Gents Strokeplay Finals 2017, over two days, Saturday and Sunday.

Approximately 200 players will come from far and wide from all over Ireland to compete in three different categories - Junior, Inter-mediate and Senior - in a bid to capture the prized title of All-Ireland National Pitch and Putt Strokeplay Champion.

According to Hillview pitch and putt captain, Paddy O’Hanrahan, “the creme de la creme of pitch and putt players from almost every county in Ireland will be at Hillview at the weekend. These are the very best players in the country as this is the most prestigious competition there is. All these competitors have pre-qualified for Hillview by taking part in local competitions in their respective counties or group of counties in some cases. This is the event they all want to play in, the one that every pitch and putt player wants to win,” added Paddy who has overseen a busy almost year-long programme to ensure that the picturesque course at the foothills of the Comeraghs will look its resplendent best for 15th and 16th July.

Only four years ago in 2013, Hillview very successfully staged the All-Ireland Inter-Counties Pitch and Putt finals, but as Paddy pointed out “the Inter-Counties was a team event, but next weekend is an individual event and it is even more prestigious for us to host. To use a topical analogy, this is the ‘Wimbledon’ of Pitch and Putt in Ireland.”

Play on both days with commence at 8.30 am sharp. On Saturday, both the junior and intermediate competitions will run to completion. A total of 40 juniors and 72 intermediate players will play two rounds, with the top 12 in both competitions going forward to complete another 18 holes to decide the respective champions.

On Sunday it will be the turn of the seniors, who will have the course all to themselves. Here 80 of the very best players will play 36 holes before the field is narrowed down to the top 20 for a third round. Only then will it emerge who is to be crowned gents senior national pitch and putt strokeplay champion. It promises to be a very exciting day for the sport.

Above: Frankie Gubbins and club president Seamus O'Doherty are looking forward to a big weekend at the Clonmel club.

The county of Tipperary will be represented by players from Larkspur Park (Cashel), Riverside (Nenagh), Tipperary Hills and Lakeside (Templemore), while the Cunnigar Club in Dungarvan will make the short trip over the Comeraghs to also take part. Of course the host club, Hillview, will be on the starting line too with Paul Sweeney and David Cahill (intermediate) and James Cleary (senior) vying for honours.

“Hillview is now widely recognised as being one of the best pitch and putt courses in the country,” boasts Paddy. “But besides the actual course itself, we have facilities at Hillview that are second to none in the country. We can stage these big events as we have demonstrated before. We have the course, the parking, bar facilities and catering to provide wonderful meals. And the town can also cater for all these players and their families coming here at the weekend. It’s a boost for the town’s economy also,” he said.

A world of work has gone into the preparation for this event and Paddy praised the hard work of many club members. “Two who stand out for special mention are club president Seamus O’Doherty and Hillview grounds-man Richie Blanche, both of whom are working together to ensure the course looks its most beautiful,” added Paddy.

“We have been dealing with the PPUI (Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland) since last November, orchestrating a plan to have Hillview at its peak for this weekend in July. And we have regular visits from the PPUI to walk the course, check the facilities, etc., to make sure that everything is in top order. They were back twice last week and will come again before the event. But they are happy that we are ready for what is a major undertaking,” said Paddy.

It will be a very busy couple of days with people arriving well before the starting time of 8.30. “We will be serving breakfast from 7.30 am onwards, and we have Eileen Condon Caterers looking after meals all day. We will have two big tents on the course, one at the top and one down at the bottom, excellent vantage points. Our course is an ‘absolute gem’ in the eyes of many who visit and is great for spectators. Compared to many others courses, it is ideal from a viewer’s perspective, you don’t have too far to walk, and it is always a strong point in our favour for staging these big occasions.”

“All we need now is the weather, and that looks good too; it won’t be blazing sunshine, but it will be good and dry and ideal for the event. We extend a warm welcome to the general public to come along and spectate and there is no charge. Indeed the last time we staged the All-Irelands we had some former members and others who came along to view and then decided to take up the sport again. Hopefully we might get a few more this time,” concluded Paddy.