Last Saturday was the final chance for players to qualify for the Hanna Banana Shootout in the Winter League at Lurgan and the big push was on to claim those final few places.
When the chips are down it’s hard to beat experience and many of this week’s prizewinners had that in abundance, with most having an age at least double their points total.
Top of the pile was the vastly experienced Laurence Mitchell with 34 points off 9
Five over after five holes he toured the rest of the course in two under par thanks to birdies at the 9th, 12th and 18th and a bogey at the 17th.
Gary Clarke took a break from winning the gross prize and dipped into the nett prizes instead by lifting the low section with 33 points off 1. Although he dropped shots at the 8th and 11th, his birdies at holes 1, 2, 10, 12, 14 and 17 helped him to a fantastic round of 4 under par.
Joe Dowey Jnr has been returning winning scores for more years than he would care to remember, so although his 32 points on Saturday would have thrilled and excited most golfers, it was just another day at the office for him. A bogey at the fifth and birdies at the 10th and 18th meant yet another sub-par round and second place in the section.
William McMillan was the best of a quartet of players on 31 points and took third place in the section.
The unlucky players to miss out with 31pts were Olcan Kearney, Canice McGivern and Aidan Thornbury.
The middle section went to Tony McCallion with 34 points off 12. A birdie at the difficult third hole was soon followed by a double bogey at the fifth, but he avoided any further misfortune and a 3 under handicap homeward journey brought him to victory.
Veteran Tom Creaney came second with 33 points off 11. Six under his handicap after the 14th hole, he will be disappointed at a run of bogeys over the last three holes which denied him greater reward.
Fellow veteran Billy Bateman took third with 32 points off 8 thanks to just four bogeys and pars everywhere else.
Henry McAreavey, on 33 points, was handicapped out of the prizes due to an abundance of success in recent weeks while Gareth Murphy, Adam McCleary, John McEvoy and Wilson Collins were so near yet so far with 31 points.
Having dominated last year’s Winter League from start to finish, Derek Johnston has come with a late run and his 35 points gave him the high section and in fact the average of his last three rounds has been 35 points.
Maurice Turnbull will have similar aspirations after his 34 points moved him into second place and he will be reflecting on a pair of double bogeys at the 14th and 15th which spoiled a very good run up to that point. John Menary, also on 34 points, took third.
After a brilliant eagle at the 10th a few short weeks ago, he has double bogeyed it on each occasion he has played it since so we can expect to see him forging ahead once he repairs a fractured relationship with the hole.
Added to the very welcome signs of Spring currently evident around the course is the added interest sparked by the exposed trunks of the many trees which have been cut down. Viewed as obstacles by some, each ring sequence and shape is an open book to a keen student exposing lessons in history, geography, art, climate, ecology and much more.