Course of the Month - ST. STEPHEN'S, GLANMIRE, CO. CORK, IRELAND.
Many Irish Pitch and Putt courses are situated in the grounds of a hospital. One of the best of this type is St. Stephen’s, which lies just ten kilometres from Ireland’s second city (and one of Pitch and Putt’s strongholds) – Cork.
Archdeacon Sean Burke (RIP), former Parish Priest of Glanmire, Co. Cork, was a native of Kilmichael, Co. Cork. He was ordained in 1957 and served the diocese of Cork in many areas, including Mayfield, Enniskeane, Turner's Cross and Ballinhassig. However, it was while he was chaplain to St. Stephen's Hospital, Sarsfield's Court in Co. Cork that he was the prime mover behind the plan to construct a Pitch and Putt course in the hospital grounds and the formation of the St. Stephen's club in 1972. As Club President, Fr. Burke (as he was then) was the principal guiding light behind the fledgling club. He was also an active and competent player.
St. Stephen's was the course where FIPPA Assistant Secretary General John Manning learned the sport.
St. Stephen's Pitch and Putt course.
If you’re playing St. Stephen’s pivotal holes are likely to be the sixth, the eighth, the twelfth and the eighteenth.
The sixth plays 52 metres uphill and can be quite a test into a headwind. There is also a road close to the right of the fairway, which can be in play for a wayward teeshot – it’s one of several such “Road Holes” at St. St. Stephen’s.
Known locally as “Goliath”, the eighth is the longest hole on this course of 779 metres. It measures 68 metres and plays slightly downhill. The camber of the hole means the ball will usually kick right. Trees line the left hand side of the fairway and this hole will yield few birdies.
From easy (the short Index 18 eleventh) to difficult (the famous twelfth). Termed “Eye of the Needle, this hole requires a pitch from an elevated tee that must find a path between the tall trees and find a green with many subtle rolls.
The 33 metre 18th is termed “Home and Dry”. It’s short but is anything but easy. It’s so easy to overshoot. Take the advice of one of St. Stephen’s most famous sons – Eamonn Foley, “Players should be aggressive with their pitch and get good elevation.”
The St. Stephen's clubhose.
P.P.U.I. NATIONAL EVENTS AT ST. STEPHEN’S
After many years of successfully hosting regional events, it all began nationally for St. Stephen’s in 1993.
Dick Walsh and Cecily Walsh (Ashgrove) defied pouring rain at on October 3rd to win the 1993 National Mixed Foursomes. Dick and Cecily carded +17 and won by three from Annie Galvin (Tullamore) and her son, Paul.
The first P.P.U.I. national event of the third millennium was played at St. Stephen’s. It was a marvellous day for Parteen on Sunday 21st May in the final of the 2000 P.P.U.I. National Mixed Team Event. Parteen produced a stunning total of 172 stableford points for this 36 holes mixed foursomes event for club teams of four, two men and two ladies. The Parteen total of 172 points was three clear of the Glenville A team from Tallaght in Dublin. Third went to Templebreedy on 164 points.
Darren Collins (St. Anne's) became the fourth player to achieve the feat of winning Irish Intermediate and Senior Strokeplay crowns when he holed birdie putts on the final two greens to take the 2004 Strokeplay in one of the most dramatic finales one could wish for at superb St. Stephen's on 4 July. Darren was three shots behind Frank Dineen with four holes to play of a nine holes play-off after the pair had tied over the regulation 54 holes. Frank (who had birdied three of the first four extra holes) bogeyed the sixth when he left a chip short after pitching well left of the green. Darren conjured up a glorious pitch to the long eighth, his ball stopping within two feet for a birdie and a two shot swing. Frank fell foul of the treacherous 8th. His teeshot tangled with a tree left of the fairway and he bogeyed to leave the pair tied again playing the last. Collins' pitch to the ninth almost went into the hole before spinning left and finishing four feet away. Dineen found the centre of the green but missed his birdie effort. That left Darren Collins with a left to right breaking four footer for the championship and he slotted it to spark tremendous scenes of celebration. The two-time National Matchplay runner-up was national champion for the first time. 1992 and 1998 champion Frank O’Donoghue finished third, a shot out of the play-off.
A view of the 18th green with the clubhouse in the background.