THIS weekend sees a National Pitch & Putt event return to Tullamore for the first time in three years. While it’s no stranger to such events, Club Chairman Darren O’Connell tells Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor that the staging of the 2014 Inter-County is a special one for the Co Offaly club.
AS the evenings drawn in, there is a welcome realisation that the National Inter-County is nearly upon us and for the first time since 1986, the Ladies and Gents titles will be decided at one of the Midlands most premier courses in Tullamore. The workload that has gone in has been very hectic according to Club Chairman Darren O’Connell. “We’ve been having work nights two to three evenings a week in the build-up and some of us have been working on the course five days a week getting ready for this weekend. The level of dedication by all concerned has been amazing and we’re hoping it all pays off on the weekend now,” he said.
The mainly dry and hot weather has produced its own challenges for the club in getting ready for one of the marquee events in Irish Pitch & Putt. “We’ve been working hard to make sure that the greens don’t get burnt with the weather that we’ve been having. As well as our sprinkler system we have been hand spraying the greens to give them the extra touch. Being built on a sandpit the greens tend to soak in water that bit quicker and as a result they need that extra effect,” the club chairman said. He also said the club have taken a good deal off the trees around the course. “In April and May we set about taking a third off of every tree on the course. It took a long time to clear it all up but thankfully we’ve it all cleared now ahead of this weekend,” Darren said.
While there is some debate about the actual date of the club’s founding in the early 1960’s, the club has a 50 year legacy that it has been a ‘go to’ venue for Pitch & Putt down through the decades. Club President and local farmer Jim Matthews sold the land on which the club were present throughout its time to the club back in the year 2001 for a sum of £50,000 and the club is active all throughout the year. “We have a very healthy rivalry with Erry and we play a Ryder Cup style competition with them over the months of November and December. We have a membership of about 125 which while its down on what it has been is certainly something that we’re going to try and address in the aftermath of this weekend,” the Club Chairman said.
The club has collected nearly €1000 in local sponsorship for this weekend and also has arranged some special logistics for this weekend. “We’ve hired a caterer that we’re very happy with what they will be offering this weekend in terms of food. We’re also going to have two giant scoreboards out on the course and will have walky talkies to keep everyone updated as best they can be on scores throughout the weekend,” he said. Darren has his county’s hat on in hoping for success for the two Offaly teams this weekend but does see it being a wide open event depending on the weather over the course of play. “I certainly don’t think there will be any big home advantage for Offaly if its poor conditions on Sunday especially with the back nine as anything can happen on those holes.”
Practcie Times at Tullamore for this week are: Tuesday to Thursday - All Day; Friday - Until 3pm.
Tomorrow: We speak to some of the team captains of the countys involved this weekend in both grades.
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