MARCH 17 traditionally heralds in the start of the golfing season proper.
The back tees come into play and all 18 holes are opened.
Everyone was very excited and 200 members played in the competition, which was generously sponsored by the Seven Stars Restaurant in Loughbrickland. We all owe a debt of gratitude to P.J. Johnston for making this possible.
The calculated standard scratch score was nett 67. This was equalled by eight players and broken by 14.
Those who finished on nett 67 or 38 stableford points were Kyle Buchanan (28), Michael Robinson (12), Rory Madeley (4), John Crothers (12), Seamus Rooney (6), Andrew Quinn (6), Dennis Lockhart (13) and Trevor Woods (5).
There were a group of five players on 39 points, namely Joseph Smyth (18), Scott Nelson (11), Philip Mallon (10), Alan Dale (11) and Willie Dickson (17).
Philip Mallon was lucky enough to win the top senior prize.
No less than eight players finished with 40 points, the equivalent of a nett 65. All of them must have fancied their chances of winning the competition but none of them did.
Ian Magowan (14) slipped into second place with his 40 points and Jonathan Ward (4) was third, with the same score.
Jonathan came oh so close to winning the best gross prize with his level par 69 but he was beaten on countback by plus one handicapper, Rory Leonard.
The six players, who missed out, despite shooting 40 points, were Colm McGreevey (22), Gareth Moody (12), Robert Clydesdale (19), Shane Crossan (16), Billy Clarke (17) and Joe Glass (15).
And so to the winner, who was three points clear of the field, the one and only Jack Bickerstaff.
Jack often complains about his golf game, how his drives go astray, his irons miss the greens and how his putts lip out. When he talks like that, it’s best to take it with a pinch of salt.
That’s because Jack is a class player, one of the best left-handers in the club. He was in sparkling form in the Seven Stars tournament, shooting a marvellous 43 points.
There was an extra prize for closest to the hole at the 15th and Keith Steenson won that.
All in all, it was a brilliant opener for the season and our thanks go to P.J. Johnson, the proprietor of the Seven Stars.
JOE GLASS WINS THE BANK HOLIDAY STABLEFORD - Monday March 19 was the Bank Holiday and that means an 18 holes golf competition.
Joe Glass (15) missed out on St. Patrick’s Day, despite shooting 40 points. He had better luck this time.
Joe, one of the strongest players in the club, off his handicap, shot another 40 points. This time, it was good enough to win.
Philip McCourt (13), another very capable player, was second with 39 points.
Two relatively unknown players took third and fourth prizes.
Albert Porter, playing off a 26 handicap, was third with 38 points.
Jamie Thompson, playing off a 20 handicap, was fourth, also with 38 points.
If Albert and Jamie continue in this form, they won’t be unknown for long.
Carson Clegg (20) and Shane Bell (6) came close with 37 points each.
Colin McKinney (14) won the prize for best senior player with 36 points and Luke Woods won the best gross prize with a 71.
SWEEP RESULTS: MONDAY 12TH MARCH - This was a nice little earner for Philip Mallon. Not only did he shoot the winning score but he also had the only two of the day.
1st, Philip Mallon (10) 34 points.
THURSDAY 15TH MARCH - William Horner certainly seems to like the Thursday sweep. This was the third time that he has won it in the space of five weeks.
Shane Rooney had the only two and he was well rewarded.
1st, William Horner (23) 34; 2nd, Sam Wilkinson (24) 33.
SUNDAY MARCH 18 - Robert Haire has just won the Sunday Sweep two weeks in succession. That is an achievement, which does not happen very often. The last player to do so was Colm McGreevey back in July last year.
Incidentally, there were no twos, so the rollover just keeps getting bigger.
1st, Robert Haire (18) Nett 33; 2nd, Eamon McAnarney (14) Nett 33; 3rd, Colin Smylie (13) Nett 33.5.
THURSDAY MARCH 22 - Seamus Rooney is hitting top form at just the right time. The golf season proper has just got under way and Seamus is going to be a force to be reckoned with. That’s for sure.
1st, Seamus Rooney (6) 32 points; 2nd, Dennis Watt (15) 31; 3rd, Brian Mulholland (9) 30 points.