Pitch & Putt
The opening round of the Tipperary Pitch & Putt Spring League commenced at Hillview on Sunday last where over 90 competitors graced the fairways of the iconic course in Clonmel, the biggest turnout ever for a Spring League fixture. With the winter course in play the standard of Pitch & Putt displayed was as good as seen for many a year.
Obviously players have been practising during the off season as the scores produced so evidently proved but also there were the odd player making their first return of the season and there anxious to shake off any cob-webs they might have had from the winter period. The course was prepared perfectly for all who played, something that is accustomed to when playing at the historic Clonmel venue. The Riverdale contingent were led by the crafty Sean Minogue and Intermediate player Arthur Mitchell, the former returning a personal best on the Hillview course with his opening round of -14 where he finished -18 in total for his 36 holes. Mitchell has made a return to the game this year after nearly a decade out but they say form is temporary and class is permanent. His return of -18 was scintillating play and it won’t be the last time we write about the Nenagh man this year if this form continues.
Others to perform on the day were John O’Meara and Rory Hogan who continued to fly the Senior flag when they returned -12 and -11 respectively. The Intermediates were led by Arthur Mitchell but he was ably assisted by Damien Long who fired him -11 and PJ Ryan who shot -8. Riverdale have always have coveted Junior players and this showed in the likes of John Minogue and Dean Courtney’s powerful displays, both returning -9. The Nenagh men have always been fast out of the traps in the opening round of the league but one things is for sure after this display last Sunday, they are very eager to get back the Spring League crown they so ultimately crave. The mercurial Anthony Culhane of Tipperary Hills ensured that the new combination of Tipperary Hills/Larkspur Park were to get off to a flying start in the league. His display was flawless throughout and his return of -20 for his 36 holes got the wheels in motion for a great team display. Ably followed by Inter County stars James Ryan and Brian Webster who both returned -14 and -13 respectively, things were looking good for the combo. The ever consistent Mark Cummins’ -8, the ever reliable Ray Lyons’ -7 and the ever improving Paul Flynn’s -4 ensured improvement but upstepped Junior player John Martin to return a powerhouse display of -10 to really cap off a team performance. Mark O’Brien’s fine effort of -6 in the Junior grade ensured that the combo would take second place on the day. Anthony Culhane and John Martin took up the individual honours on the day, Culhane taking the 36 overall Gross and Martin winning the 36 overall Nett. Lakeside were next in the order of merit for the day led by Alan Maher and Paul O’Brien’s -11. Seamus Ryan and Michael Fennell’s fine start to the season was clearly shown when they both returned -10 and -9 respectively. New recruit Paul Shoer Jnr clearly showed he will be a key figure for Lakeside in the league when he returned -10 and the ever consistent Patrick Kennedy’s -8 was fine score on the day. The rejuvenated Thomas Kennedy fired home -7 and he was assistant by Anthony Maher’s -6. Lakeside are notoriously slow starters but if they want to retain their crown for the 4th successive year, they will have to steadily improve over the next few weeks. Hillview were the last team to get through the line on this occasion but the efforts of James Cleary, Noel Joyce and John Fitzgerald were a joy to watch. Cleary firing home -20, the vastly experienced Joyce returning to the fold after a stint in the putting clinic hit -18 and Fitzgerald posting -16. They were followed by Frank Faraher -7, Danny Gibbons -2 and Jason Fitzgerald +2. Their Juniors were very much to the fore with Ronnie Fitzgerald and Paddy O’Hanrahan posting -4 and -3 respectively. Hillview have a great tradition in this tournament at was great to see them turning out in such force on Sunday and playing this round will definitely stand to them going forward and expect them to challenge as the league progresses. Riverdale is the venue this weekend with Riverdale and Lakeside starting the early morning session from 9am to 10.30am and they will be followed by Larkspur Park, Hillview & Tipp Hills from 12.30pm to 2pm. Another good venue in store and a good crowd is expected.