Our 5th Anniversary Tournament would take us to the same venues as 2016 – Ballybunion Old Course & Cashen Course, Dooks Golf Links & Tralee Golf Links – from Tuesday 25th to Friday 28th April 2017. This year had a record entry of 160 golfers (80 teams), having started with just 40 golfers 4 years ago when we took on Mount Juliet, Castlemartyr, Adare & Old Head.
Plenty golfers made it down on the Monday evening before play started the following morning, some taking it easy and preparing without the usual hangover while others were starting as they meant to go on that week! The craic was mighty in Kilcooly’s that night which did bode well for a great week, on and off the course!
The first day’s play took in a 2 course start (never used that before!) on The Old & Cashen at Ballybunion Golf Club on Tuesday 25th April 2017. While the 2 course start worked well it still entailed an early start on The Old Course with the first golfers setting off at 7.24am on a still but chilly morning. Rune Karlsen, Manager of Tromso Golf Club in Norway, and his playing partner, Paal Kjelsrud, got things started as they did in 2016 as well, this time in the company of Umberto Biagi & Tarek Aref. The early scores were decent as the early risers seemed to be getting the better of the scoring conditions. However it was 2 teams that started later on The Old & Cashen courses that led the way after Round 1 – Cork brothers, John & Liam Deasy, returned an excellent 45 points followed closely behind them by another Cork team, John Howard & Jim Dunne on 44. Plenty teams were still in the hunt only a few shots back of the leaders including Defending Champs, Joe Kennedy & Peter Murphy, along with Lindsay Hamill & Tom Baldwin, Chris Garde & Billy Farrell, Lewis Jones & Gavin Bonham and Leo Dunne & Paul Madigan.
Day 2 started under sunny skies at Ballybunion while those who took on The Old Course on Tuesday moved to the Cashen Course on Wednesday 26th April for Round 2 while the teams that took on the Cashen on Day 1 moved onto The Old Course. Scoring was definitely better for the morning starters, even after the previous night’s festivities at Kilcooly’s, with the wind picking up in the afternoon making both courses a true test of links golf. John & Jim powered ahead in the 2nd Round with a great score of 45, giving them a 7 shot lead from Warrenpoint duo Brian McKee & Joe Lenfestey. Lewis Jones & Gavin Bonham added a solid 40 points to their 41 on Day 1 to lie in 3rd place. 10 shots covered the Top 8 but the chasing pack had it all to do to catch the Cork boys out in front. Ireland led the way in The Nations Cup with 2 rounds to go. Onto Killarney as our base for the next 3 nights with a combination of local hotels hosting us.
The 3rd Round of Social Media Open 2017 started under gloomy skies and a little rain but this soon cleared to a fabulous day at Dooks Golf Links on Thursday 27th April. Our Italian friends, all 22 of them, were some of the first golfers out on the day on the testing links course as all teams tried to climb the Leaderboard on “Moving Day”. Scoring was the best of the week so far with many teams returning scores in the mid to high 40s. Best score of the day come from Kate Docherty & Martina Syron who returned a fabulous 47 points while there were many teams returning 40 or better in the kind scoring conditions. John & Jim again recorded a consistent score, 44 this time to extend their lead to 8 going into the Final Round at Tralee the following morning.
Tralee Golf Links was the venue for the Final Round of our 5th Anniversary Tournament on Friday 28th April and again this tremendous golf course lived up to all the expectation. The course was in phenomenal condition with the greens slick and rolling beautifully. The early starters definitely got the best of the scoring conditions, with the first team fourball out on the course producing the best team score of the day in the shape of Stuart Hasson & Gay Hannon who returned 45 points to shoot up the leaderboard. Nearest the Pin on the day also went to an early starter, Kate Docherty! As the wind picked up in the afternoon teams did struggle, especially on Back 9, but this did not detract from an amazing experience at Tralee. John & Jim has their worst day of the 4 in terms of scoring at Tralee but still managed to post a creditable 40 points to ensure victory was guaranteed to become 2017 Social Media Open Champions! Chris Garde & Billy Farrell, regulars at our Tournaments, took 2nd place. Lewis & Gavin secured 3rd place with a 4 round points total of 162 while Lindsay Hamill & Tom Baldwin grabbed 4th place on the countback from 4 teams on 159 with Paschal & Noel McMahon getting a Top 5 finish on the same score. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves as thoughts now moved to our Prize Giving Dinner at Randles Hotel in Killarney that evening. Ireland again triumphed in The Nations Cup while Honourary Irish Captains, John Mooney & Shay Kelly, took The Conefrey Shield.
The Prize Giving Dinner began just after 9pm in Killarney at Randles Hotel with all teams in the mood for celebrating, especially our Dutch contingent that provided the backing track for the evening from their table! A huge thanks to everybody for making the week what it was, all the players; the Golf Courses – Ballybunion, Dooks & Tralee – and all their staff; the wonderful Guest Houses and Hotels and of course our Tournament Partners – Conefrey’s Pharmacy, Druids of Ireland by LJ Golf, Irish Biltong, Open Fairways, Jonathan McDonnell QFA, Vox Golf, Royal & Awesome, Club Clean Ireland, Wyldsson and Fresh Today. We are already planning for our 2018 Tournament and hope to see many of you there next year!