Stamina was the watchword at County Armagh Golf Club on Sunday 23 July as the inaugural Scratch Cup competitions saw players complete a gruelling 36 holes in one day as they went in search of the coveted silverware.
This new event was kindly sponsored by FKP Smyth (Restoration, Painting, Decorating) and organised by Jarlath McReynolds and his trusty lieutenants Stewart Stevenson, Richard Stewart and Davy Baird. All those involved deserve credit for overseeing what was such an enjoyable and well-run competition — a unique fixture that is set to remain in the club calendar for years to come.
However, administrative efficiency was not the limit of Jarlath's ambitions on this occasion and, indeed, the three-handicapper produced a golfing masterclass to triumph in the Senior Scratch Cup, which was competed for by those in the 0-5 handicap bracket. With scoring as glorious as the summer sunshine overhead, McReynolds posted an exceptional 36-hole total of 139.
In a two-under-par opening round, the affable schoolteacher recorded a hat-trick of consecutive birdies at the 5th, 6th and 7th and another at the 12th. And, during a second round of 71, Jarlath notched further birdies at the 8th and 17th as he ran out a more than worthy maiden Senior Scratch Cup champion.
Scratch Cup winners Jarlath McReynolds (Senior) and Jimmy Wilson (Junior) are presented with their trophies by competition sponsor Francie Smyth from FKP Smyth Ltd and Club Captain Richard Stewart. They are joined by other prizewinners on the day (L-R): John Maguire, Shea Smyth, Adam Cromwell, Philip Kelly, Stewart Hall and Joe Rooney.
Philip Kelly's display was none-too-shabby either, as the nought-handicapper completed his day's work in 142 strokes to secure the runner-up spot. Kelly's one-under-par initial 18 incorporated birdies at the 6th, 10th and 12th, while an adventurous second round 73 comprised an eagle, two birdies, nine pars, five bogeys and a double bogey.
Two shots further back and in the bronze medal position was the prolific John Maguire, whose 144 total may or may not be higher than his best ever break on his beloved green baize. Maguire's 36-hole escapades included seven birdies but also a costly treble bogey at the appropriately titled Shambles, the par 3 11th.
Adam Cromwell notched four birdies on his way to a 72 that earned the honours on offer for the best first round by those not among the prizes elsewhere, while Shea Smyth's 72 scooped the second-round gong.
The Junior Sratch Cup was contested by those with handicaps of six and above, and Jimmy Wilson was top man here after carding a terrific aggregate of 151. Wilson proved the virtue of solid if unspectacular golf by parring no fewer than 25 of his 36 holes.
A birdie at the 12th was a welcome bonus in the six-handicapper's 74-shot first round, and Jimmy would later sign for a 77 from a second 18 in which he admirably overcame an uncertain spell where he dropped five shots in four holes immediately before the turn.
Having successfully steadied the ship and returned to the par trail, nothing was going to prevent Wilson from becoming the first and worthy recipient of the Junior Scratch Cup.
Two identical rounds of 77 enabled Stewart Hall to assume second position in the Junior Cup standings. Impressively, with birdies each time, the seven-handicapper took just eight shots to negotiate the 10th hole twice. Stewart also slotted birdies at the 1st, 2nd and 8th in the course of the Sunday proceedings.
Thomas Murray bounced back from the setbacks of the sevens with which he commenced each nine of his opening round, eventually completing the day's challenge in 157 strokes to grab third place. Happily, Murray's birdies at the 5th and 12th and 20 pars elsewhere were much more representative of his general play.
Shea Brady's 78 sealed the accolade for the best first round among the Junior Cup contenders, and three birdies helped John Vernon to a 75 that sealed the second round award.
Youth pipped experience in the overall nett reckoning, where Joe Rooney's splendid nett 134 took the plaudits ahead of Ian Beaddie, who was five shots back on 139.
Meanwhile, a Club Stableford competition played off green markers on the same day produced the following results: 1st Andy Conn 41 points (back 9); 2nd Tom Calvert 41 points; category 1 Colin Clarke 38 points; category 2 Sean McAnenly 39 points; category 3 Norman Mallon 38 points.
Jarlath McReynolds, winner of the County Armagh Golf Club Senior Scratch Cup is presented with the new trophy by competition sponsor Francie Smyth, FKP Smyth Ltd, and Club Captain Richard Stewart.
Jimmy Wilson, winner of the County Armagh Golf Club Junior Scratch Cup is presented with the new trophy by competition sponsor Francie Smyth, FKP Smyth Ltd, and Club Captain Richard Stewart.
On the 1st tee before round 2 of the County Armagh Golf Club Scratch Cup competition are Oliver Connell, Laurence Corr and Chris Calvert.
Completing their first round in the 36-hole FKP Smyth Ltd-sponsored Scratch Cup competition at County Armagh Golf Club are Steven Kelly, Stewart Hall and Shea Smyth.
Roy Davis and Jamie Calvert on the 1st tee for round 2 of the 36-hole FKP Smyth Ltd-sponsored Scratch Cup competition at County Armagh Golf Club.
Adam Cromwell and Philip Kelly beside the 18th green having just completed their first round in the 36-hole FKP Smyth Ltd-sponsored Scratch Cup competition at County Armagh Golf Club.
On the 1st tee for round 2 of the Scratch Cup competition at County Armagh Golf Club are Niall Brady, Neil Cromwell and Ronan McWilliams.
Enjoying half-time refreshments during the County Armagh Golf Club Scratch Cup are Lee Kirrane, Paul Rice, Jarlath McReynolds, Paul Pender and Lee Stewart.
Midway through the 36-hole Scratch Cup competition at County Armagh Golf Club are Shane O'Halloran, Sean Dougan and Rónan O'Reilly.
Shea Brady, Joe Rooney and Jimmy Wilson on the 1st tee before the second round of the 36-hole Scratch Cup at County Armagh Golf Club.
Gary McCourt, Andrew Adair and Brian McGuigan pictured after their first round in the Scratch Cup at County Armagh Golf Club.
Prizewinners in the Senior Scratch Cup are joined by sponsor, Francie Smyth of FKP Smyth Ltd, and Club Captain, Richard Stewart.
Prizewinners in the Junior Scratch Cup (L-R) Stewart Hall, Jimmy Wilson and Thomas Murray are joined by sponsor, Francie Smyth of FKP Smyth Ltd, and Club Captain, Richard Stewart.