New Rules come into force on January 1

The new Rules of Golf come into force on January 1, 2019, and all golfers are asked to ensure that they are familiar with the many changes that are being introduced.

The 20 more important rule changes are as follows:

  1. Drop from knee height (NOT shoulder height)
  2. Measure the area to drop in with the longest club in your bag (except a putter)
  3. Drop in and play from the relief area
  4. When dropping back-on-the-line, your ball cannot be played from nearer the hole than your chosen reference point
  5. Time to search – 3 minutes (NOT 5 minutes)
  6. If you accidentally move your ball when searching for it, replace it without penalty
  7. No penalty for a double hit – it only counts as one stroke
  8. No penalty if your ball hits you or your equipment accidentally after a stroke
  9. No penalty if your ball strikes the flagstick when you have chosen to leave it in the hole
  10. Spike mark and other shoe damage on the putting green can be repaired
  11. Ball accidentally moved on putting green – no penalty and replace
  12. Ball marked, lifted and replaced on putting green is moved by wind to another position –replace ball on the original spot
  13. Penalty areas replace water hazards, and you can move loose impediments, ground your club and take practice swings in penalty areas without penalty, just as you can on the fairway or in the rough
  14. You can’t take relief from a penalty area unless you are at least 95% certain your ball is in the penalty area
  15. In bunkers you can move loose impediments
  16. In bunkers you cannot touch the sand with your club in the area right in front of or right behind your ball, during your backswing or in taking practice swings
  17. Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough (but “embedded” means that part of your ball is below the level of the ground)
  18. Unplayable ball in bunker – extra option to drop outside the bunker for 2 penalty strokes
  19. You cannot have your caddie or your partner standing behind you once you begin taking your stance
  20. Pace of Play – it is recommended that you take no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke (and usually you should be able to play more quickly than that) and Ready Golf in stroke play is encouraged

You can watch an explanatory video on the rule changes by clicking here.

Further information is available from the R&A website which can be accessed by clicking here.


Tight finish to final event of 2018

THE last competition of 2018 was a Champagne Team of Four event played over 14 holes on Sunday and it produced a tight finish.

The team of Martin Cairns (17), Mark Cairns(15), Adrian Kenny (19) and Gerry Murray (10) shot 70pts to win the event by one point from Ray Pepper (19), Andrew MacKell (28), Stephen Haughey (13) and Ciaran McAteer (20). The second place team also recorded a score of 70pts but under Turkey competition rules had a point deducted because Ray Pepper had been among the prizes in a similar competition on December 9.

The first winner of the Nine Hole Repeater Competition is Michael Noone (16). He edged out Cathal Grennan on countback after both returned scores of 17pts.

The competition continues until January 5 and the €3 entry fee must be paid prior to the round in the Pro Shop with members able to enter as often as they like. Three prizes will be awarded will be awarded after every 25 entries anmd there are separate competitions for Men, Ladies and Juveniles

Sunday, December 30 – Champagne Team of Four – 1st: Martin Cairns (17), Mark Cairns(15), Adrian Kenny (19) and Gerry Murray (10), 70pts. 2nd: Ray Pepper (19), Andrew MacKell (28), Stephen Haughey (13), Ciaran McAteer (20) 69pts (70pts-1).

Nine Hole Repeater – 1st: Michael Noone (16) 17pts/13, 2nd: Cathal Grennan(8) 17, 3rd: Pat Davis (16)16pts/11.


Rafferty looking forward to 2019 after memorable year

IT’s a sign of how far Caolan Rafferty has come over the past three years that he is now the highest ranked Irishman on the World Amateur Golf rankings having broken into the top 50 for the first time in recent weeks.

As 2018 draws to a close Rafferty, who turned 26 on December 22, sits at No.49 on the WAG rankings and is looking forward to 2019 knowing it could be even better than the previous 12 months.

This time last year, the Dundalk Golf Club player set himself three objectives. They were to win one of Ireland’s six major amateur golf championships, win a senior club pennant with Dundalk, and make the Irish team for the Eisenhower Trophy.

He achieved two out of the three as he beat Rowan Lester in the South of Ireland final at Lahinch in July and led Dundalk to victory over Enniscorthy in the Leinster final of the Barton Shield in June. He agrees it was a good year.

“Two out of three wasn’t bad and even the Eisenhower was close in that I was probably the fourth man of a three man team.

“I think at one stage I had five, maybe six trophies, in the house, all at the one time. It was a really good spell from say September of 2017 to now. I couldn’t really complain. I won in Colombia in September 2017 and that was my first big win. That boosted my confidence. Getting the South took a weight off my shoulders and hopefully I can add to it now because that’s the next objective.”

His other major objectives for 2019 are to make the Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team in September and also secure a place at the US Amateur Championship which takes place in August in Pinehurst.

If he stays in the Top 50 then he will automatically earn a place at Pinehurst and he agrees that it is a sign of how far he has come over the past three years that he is now realistically contemplating being part of these iconic events.

“All these things are starting to come around which I never really thought of before. When I got to my first semi-final at the North in 2015 the last thing I was thinking about was where am I on the WAG. To get into the top 50 in the world is a nice achievement in itself, and there’s not too many from Ireland, never mind the smallest county in the country, have done it.”

He spent several days in the run-up to Christmas on Merseyside after being one of ten potential Walker Cup players invited to attend an informal practice session at Royal Liverpool Golf Club by Britain and Ireland captain Craig Watson and selectors Nigel Edwards and Andy Ingram. The Hoylake venue will host the bi-annual event in September and Rafferty enjoyed the experience.

“It was an interesting two days. I never played Hoylake so it was my first time there. Obviously this time of the year wouldn’t do it any justice, the weather was poor and you could see that the course was bit tired at the end of the season but the layout is fantastic. The clubhouse, everything about it, is amazing. To be part of a Walker Cup team there would be special and would be something that I would really enjoy.”

He admits he really got a taste of what it could be like in September as they were given a tour of the team room, asked to do media interviews and given an opportunity to see the massive trophy up close. He says playing in the Walker Cup has been a long-term objective over the past few years but he is not going to let it become a millstone around his neck.

“The last thing I am going to be worrying about is trying to make the team. If I play good golf that will all sort itself out.”

He believes that his poor showings in the St Andrews Trophy and the British Amateur during the summer probably cost him his place on the Eisenhower Team so he is determined to improve his consistency across the season in 2019 and believes he now mentally stronger than ever.

“I think I did show last year that I have a bit more character to me now and that I can dig deep and really push whereas a couple of years ago I probably didn’t have it in me.”

Since 2017, Rafferty has been on a Harrington Golf Scholarship at Maynooth University where he is studying for a degree in business and he admits he is now beginning to see the benefits of being a college golfer.

“The University this year was a big thing and there was plenty of golf there. Extra golf, but it added to the season. The scheduling got busier but it was a case that you were playing in big events, playing new people and seeing new courses. Last year I didn’t really grasp what college golf was about but this year I saw the value of it and how a few of those titles would be nice under my belt.

“The College golf is definitely helping. I wouldn’t be a great practiser, I’d rather play holes, but this year I got myself into a bit of a routine and I went down two or three nights a week even though keeping on top of assignments is tricky. I am balancing it better. I have a schedule to my week now. Before I went to college I was going through the motions. I felt like I had to go down and practice but now you want to go and practice. I have a better outlook and better discipline.”

Another major event for Rafferty in 2019 will be the R&A’s Amateur Championship which is being held in Portmarnock and The Island in June and he revealed that it was a big topic of conversation in Hoylake.

“They were all asking about Portmarnock and wanting to know what it is like. I think it is going to be one of the toughest courses the Amateur has ever been played on. The best of the best are going to be there so making the cut will be my first goal.”

The inter-club scene provided happiness and heartbreak during 2018 as he was part of the first ever Dundalk team to win a senior pennant but then saw their dreams of a national pennant dashed by Athenry in the final of the Barton Shield in Thurles.

“To get over the line this year and give that little bit of thrill to everybody in Dundalk by winning the Leinster pennant was nice. Because it is such an individual game to do stuff as a team is so nice.

“To be pipped in the final of the All-Ireland was heartbreaking. It is amazing how close you get. It was a rough one to take. As I said to the lads, I have had plenty of heartbreak in individual golf, in championships. To learn to lose before you win is the way I have always had it. You don’t win first time out, you have to take your defeats, know what it is to have a setback and then go again. I think next year will show a good bit of character from us to try and do it again. Athenry only won it on their third attempt so we’ll take a lot from knowing that.”

After celebrating his 26th birthday and Christmas at home in Dundalk, Rafferty flew out to America on St Stephen’s Day with Maynooth University team-mate Ronan Mullarney to take part in the 2018 Patriot All-America Invitational in Arizona and is looking forward to the year ahead.

“I am looking forward to the season in general. After Arizona, I come back and I have exams then we go for a training week to Portugal and then hopefully I will make the panel going to South Africa. It is just flying after that and it will be Christmas before I know it. It will be all go.”

One question Raffetty gets asked a lot concerns his future plans and whether or not he intends to turn professional. He admits it is something he is thinking about but not a question that he is ready yet to answer.

“I am going to do College and see what happens after that. I am still 50-50 on it and it is something I will need to have a real good think about because it is costly. I will sit down after college and I will weigh up my options. I won’t make a rash decision, I know that much.”

Reidy wins Sunday’s Singles competition

Eighty-five players took part in a Singles Stableford competition on Sunday with the course again in superb condition despite the heavy overnight rain.

Kieran Reidy was the overall winner with the 15 handicapper returning a score of 34pts which included the deduction of one point for previously winning a turkey in one of the earlier festive competitions.

He defeated newly installed President Dessie Ward (12) who returned a great score of 33pts but will rue a missed three foot putt on the 12th after a brilliant downhill chip from the back of the green.

Peter Rogers (2) returned the best gross score of the day, 31pts, and also won the Category 1 prize while Alan Cole (13) took Category 2 and John Farrell (21) claimed Category 3.

Sunday, December 23 – 14 Hole Singles Stableford – Overall: Kieran Reidy (15) 34 pts*, Dessie Ward (13) 33/22pts. Category 1 (0-12): Peter Rogers (2) 33/21pts. Category 2 (13-17): Alan Cole (13) 32/21pts. Category 3 (18+): John Farrell (21) 29*pts. Best Gross: Peter Rogers 31pts. *includes deduction of 1 pt for previously winning a ‘turkey’



Council members come out tops in Sunday Scramble

Four members of Council came together on Sunday to win the Four Man 14 Hole Scramble with Vice Captain Pat Davis teaming up with Dessie Ward, Trevor Giff and Gerry McDermott for a bogey free round that included eight birdies.

Twenty teams teed it up for the shotgun start at 9am on a course that was in superb condition despite the torrential rain that had fallen the previous day.

Starting off the first, Dessie Ward’s booming drive set the tone for the winners as Davis sank a 10ft putt for birdie after a great approach shot by Giff, who then produced all the key shots as they birdied the fourth hole, their second.

A tap in birdie followed at the sixth after Giff had found the green in two and they had shaved the hole for eagle before they saw birdie putts at seven, eight and nine lip out. That left them three under gross for the first seven holes and they then produced a great birdie on 10 after being forced to play their second shot from deep in the trees on the left of the fairway.

A superb approach from 160 yards on 11 by McDermott saw Giff roll in a birdie putt from 20ft and Ward then got up and down from 95 yards for a birdie on the 12th. They missed a great birdie chance on the 14th from 10ft but managed to finish their round birdie birdie.

At the par three 17th Davis stitched his tee shot to six feet and McDermott rolled in the birdie putt while on 18 another booming drive from Ward left them 112 yards from pin and McDermott left them 12ft from the pin with his approach. After watching his three colleagues shave the hole with their birdie putts, the excellent Giff stepped up and rolled the ball in for the eighth birdie of a flawless round.

It proved to be the winning putt as they edged out Mickey Coburn, Richie Barry, Dermot McKenna and Seamus Caplis by half-a-shot once the team handicaps were applied.

The Scramble was followed by a Mixed Scotch Foursomes in the afternoon with Pat and Eva Beirne taking the front nine competition while Paul O’Callaghan and Elaine Ward were best over the back nine.

Sunday, December 16 – Four Man 14 Hole Scramble – 1st: Pat Davis (17), Dessie Ward (13), Gerard McDermott (16), Trevor Giff (10) (5.6) 42.4. 2nd: Michael Coburn (9), Richard Barry (10), Dermot McKenna (16), Seamus Caplis (26) (6.1) 42.9. 3rd: Frank Byrne (8), Patsy Cole (18), Paul Lynch (18), Eamon McEneaney (15) (5.9) 43.1. 4th: Teddy Rogers (3), Kevin Barry (10), Benny O’Shaughnessy (19), Michael Gill (8) (4) 44.0.

Sunday, December 16 – Mixed Scotch Foursomes – Front Nine: Pat Beirne & Eva Beirne (13.75) 31.75; Michael Coburn & Mags Coburn (6.75) 33.25/21.5. Back Nine: Paul O’Callaghan & Elaine Ward (5.25) 32.75; Peter Rogers & Geraldine Rogers (7.75) 35.25/20.8.


Rafferty wins Leinster Order of Merit again

CAOLAN Rafferty has won the Leinster Golf Senior Order of Merit for the second successive year. Caolan’s win at the South of Ireland and third place finish at the East of Ireland helped him to an impressive 110 ranking points overall which was 40 more than second placed Rowan Lester of Hermitage.


Lawlor inspires the World to victory in Disabled Cup

Brendan Lawlor (centre) celebrates with his teammates after winning the first Disabled Cup


Dundalk Golf Club’s Brendan Lawlor is on top of the world after helping the World Team beat Australia in the first ever ISPS Handa Disabled Golf Cup in Melbourne.

Played alongside the World Cup of Golf, the two day event was a further opportunity, after last week’s Australian All Abilities Championship in Sydney, for 12 of the world’s top disabled golfers to show their skills off to a wider audience in an intensely competitive environment.

Lawlor, who finished second in last week’s event, teamed up with Spain’s Juan Postigo in Friday’s foursomes and Saturday’s fourballs, to deliver two emphatic wins and two vital points as they led the World team from the front to a 3.5 to 2.5 victory over Australia.

The 21-year-old admitted the past two weeks has been amazing for both himself and disabled golf.

“The second place finish in Sydney gave me amazing exposure over here and I definitely saw that when we moved to Melbourne. The cameras were always on us and the crowds were in awe in what we were doing as we were playing the same course as the professionals.

“It was a great honour to be the first disabled golfers to lift the trophy. It was even better for it to be presented to us by Peter Phillips who is a fantastic ISPS Handa ambassador and a great guy,” said Lawlor.

Such was the impact Lawlor has had since arriving in Australia that when he arrived at Melbourne’s Metropolitan Golf Club, Ireland’s World Cup team of Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne sought him out and invited him to join them for a practice round.

“Shane and Paul are two gents. They approached me and said hello first. They knew who I was and it felt amazing. Playing golf with them was even better,” recalled Lawlor.

Lawlor and Postigo were handed the honour of leading the World team out in Friday’s foursomes and it didn’t take them long to put the first point on the board as they proved too strong for Mike Rolls and Tony Coates in what were extremely tough conditions.

They won 6&4 and helped the World team lead Australia 2-1 after the opening day with Lawlor happy with how they had played.

“It felt pretty good,” Lawlor said. “We were pretty slow to start but we hit a lot of good shots and from seven to 12 we played pretty steady.

“Myself and my partner Juan stayed calm when the weather was really bad because we knew the scores weren’t going to be as good. We played really solid and were only two over for 14 holes as we both holed key putts.”

On Saturday they were again sent out first as The World team looked for the 1.5 points they needed to take the trophy. Lawlor and Postigo again showed the way by finishing the job on the 14th as they romped to a 5&4 victory over Australia’s Cameron Pollard and Tony Coates.

They were a remarkable three-under-par when the match ended but Lawlor admitted it took them a while to get control of the match.

“The weather today was really nice. It was windy but it was warm. I got off to a slow start today even though I had a great par on the first. The next few holes I went stale but Juan played really solid when I wasn’t playing well. We were one over after eight and I then hit this three wood to 60 feet on nine and holed it for eagle was an amazing moment and a big moment in the game. We stayed steady and were three under for the 14 holes we played which was solid shooting.

“Me and Juan got on like a house on fire. He is a Spanish disability golfer with an amazing talent and is ranked number one in Europe. We gelled really well both days and had a laugh and played great golf.”

Lawlor had his father on his bag with him for the two tournaments in Australia and admitted it was special to be able to share those great moments with him.

“Dad is an amazing caddie. I give him a hard time sometimes when the game isn’t going to plan. But the support both my parents have given me all my life, not just the last two weeks is lovely. Second in Sydney and winning two points for Europe, the caddie must be doing something right, or maybe it’s the player!”

Lawlor’s big objectives include trying to form an Irish Disabled Golfers Association and helping to promote golf’s case for inclusion in the 2024 Paralympics. He believes that the past two weeks have helped both objectives take a big step forward.

“Yes, the last two weeks will 100 per cent help promote the game. The crowds in Australia had more interest in watching us than the pros, which was quite extraordinary. The pros loved it too and they treated us like their own. I played a pro-am with Thomas Pieters and he is one great guy.”

Lawlor now heads back to Ireland and will finally have an opportunity to take stock on what has been an unbelievable year for him. As well as his Australian exploits it included wins on the European Disabled Golfers Tour in France and Czech Republic and saw him move to third in the World Rankings. He also mixed it with able-bodied golfers at the highest level and was part of Dundalk’s senior panel which won the Leinster Barton Shield and reached the semi-finals of Leinster Senior Cup. Lawlor won both his matches in the Senior qualifiers of the Senior Cup at Laytown & Bettystown and also succeeded in getting his playing handicap down to one.



Dwyer takes first turkey

Jim Dwyer won the first Turkey of the season on Sunday when he took the 14 hole Singles Stableford competition by one point from Conor McClenaghan (22).

Playing off 10, Dwyer began steadily as he covered the opening seven holes in 14pts with three pint pars at the seventh and eighth being cancelled out by one point bogies at the sixth and ninth.

The foundation for his winning score was laid over the first holes of the back nine when reeled off four successive three point pars from the 10th and then made it six successive pars by covering the 14th and 17th in regulation before a two point bogey five on the last gave him a score of 18pts for the final seven holes and an overall score of 32pts.

That was one better than McClenaghan who took second place while the evergreen Willie McKeever (17) edged out Sean Gallagher (21) on countback after both had tied on 30pts.

Cathal Muckian (10) took Category 1, Sean O’Sullivan (18) won Category 2 and Sean Ward (19) was best in Category 3. Best gross score was returned by Peter Rogers with 24pts.

Sunday, November 18, – 14 Hole Singles Stableford Turkey Competition – Overall: Jim Dwyer (10) 32pts, Conor McClenaghan (22) 31pts, Willie McKeever (17) 30/21pts, Sean Gallagher (21) 30pts,. Category 1 (0-12): Cathal Muckian (10) 29/19pts. Category 2 (13-18): Sean O’Sullivan (18) 29pts. Category 3 (19-28): Sean Ward (19) 29pts. Best Gross: Peter Rogers 24pts. CSS: Non-Qualifying.



Lawlor second at Australian All Abilities Championship

Brendan Lawlor in action in Australia


BRENDAN Lawlor produced a superb performance over the weekend to finish second in the Australian All Abilities Championship in Sydney and copper-fasten his position as one of the top disabled golfers in the world.

The 21-year-old member of Dundalk Golf Club was one of 12 players from around the world who took part in what was a tournament within a tournament as the disabled players teed it up alongside the professionals playing in the Emirates Australian Open at East Lake Golf Club.

Lawlor finished 10 shots behind Sweden’s Johan Kammerstad who blew the field away with a blistering final round that included five birdies but Lawor, who had started the day three shots off the lead in joint second place, held on to edge out Belgium’s Adam Wahbi and take the runners-up spot.

“It was the best experience of my life,” said Lawlor afterwards. “Playing in front of 5,000 people was incredible and when I put it into five feet on the last the crowd went nuts. When you shoot the same score as some of the pros you know you did okay.”

The disabled golfers played a 54 hole tournament starting on Friday and that was the only difference to the professionals competing for the Australian Open who began their 72 hole competition on Thursday,

Lawlor and his colleagues played off the championship tees and experienced the very same conditions as the pros over their three days of a competition that attracted huge media attention in Australian and saw the Louthman feature regularly on the television coverage of the event.

The Dundalk senior panel player got off to a great start in his opening round which he started off the tenth tee and, after parring his opening three holes, notched a birdie three at the 13th. He was leading playing his final hole, the par three ninth, but he double bogeyed to drop back to second, one shot behind Wahbi.

The second round on Saturday was much tougher for everybody as the wind howled across the famous Sydney links and made it a battle to survive. Lawlor followed up his opening round of 78 with an 85 but stayed second, just three shots behind new leader Kammerstad and alongside Wahbi.

The three leaders were grouped together in the final round and it soon became clear that Kammerstad was on fire and wasn’t going to be caught so Lawlor focused on ensuring he finished ahead of the Belgium which he did as he carded an 80 to Wahbi’s 83.

“I am disappointed with not winning but second on a stage like this is more than amazing. Just being here would have been good,  even if I had finished last.”

One of the purposes of this event was to increased the profile of disabled golf with a view to it becoming a Paralympic sport in 2024 but such was the successes of the event in Australia that there is now speculation that it may feature at next year’s Open Championship in Portrush.

Lawlor now heads from Sydney to Melbourne to take part in a Ryder Cup style event between Europe and Australia which will be part of the World Cup of Golf. Ireland will be represented at that event by Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne and Lawlor is looking forward to meeting the pair later this week.


Flawless Dwyer takes Sunday’s Singles Stableford

Jim Dwyer (10) was the winner of Sunday’s Singles Stableford with an excellent score of 43pts.

He made full use of his 10 shots as he recorded seven three point pars out of an overall total of 15 pars while his three bogeys were each worth two points as he had shots on all three.

On the front nine, Dwyer had three point pars at the first, third and seventh as he went out in 21pts and on the way home he had three pointers at the 11th, 15th, 16th and 18th.

Hugh Reilly (21) took second place overall after shooting 41pts and edging out Charlie Monahan (10) on countback thanks to a fine back nine score of 22pts. Monaghan, however, took Category 1 while Dessie Ward (13) took Category 2 and Oliver McGinnity (20) claimed Category 3 for the second consecutive week. Eddie Rogers (3) had the best gross with 34pts.

Best wishes to Brendan Lawlor who heads for Australia this weekend to take part in next week’s Australian All Abilities Championships which will be part of the Australia Open in Sydney.

Sunday, November 4 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Jim Dwyer (10) 43pts, Hugh Reilly (21) 41/22pts. Category 1 (0-11): Charlie Monahan (10) 41pts. Category 2 (12-16): Dessie Ward (13) 40pts. Category 3 (17+): Oliver McGinnity (20) 39/23pts. Best Gross: Eddie Rogers (3) 34pts. CSS: Non Qualifying.