League has been em­braced by clubs

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - Diarmuid Shee­han

AU­TUMN and win­ter golf is not like it used to be back in the day.

Cour­ses have bet­ter drainage, bet­ter sand, bet­ter grass, more in­formed course staff and ris­ing num­bers look­ing to play.

Un­for­tu­nately it ap­pears the cour­ses also have worse weather to con­tend with which seems to be able to bal­ance out all the pos­i­tives more fre­quently than most would like how­ever this has not stopped the rise of the now com­mon Win­ter Leagues.

This con­cept has been em­braced by many clubs, if not all, and has brought a vi­brancy back to golf clubs help­ing to keep their doors open in the off sea­son.

The Win­ter League of­fers play­ers to op­por­tu­nity to play in teams of three, five, seven or what­ever num­ber the club de­cides over a sus­tained pe­riod with the best teams usu­ally play­ing off for the hon­our of be­ing crowned win­ter league cham­pi­ons.

As with most ama­teur golfing com­pe­ti­tions the win­ter league doesn’t of­fer the vic­tors spoils wor­thy of a king how­ever that is far from the point.

The Win­ter League of­fers club mem­bers the chance to strive for some­thing over the off sea­son that un­til re­cently wasn’t on of­fer.

The Win­ter League forces play­ers to com­mit to turn out on a weekly ba­sis in or­der to keep their team in with a chance to win.

The league brings play­ers into the club and the club­house, play­ers that may of­ten have cho­sen to pack away the golf clubs till the fol­low­ing St Pa­trick’s Day.

The Win­ter League is far from a life saver but what it brings to a club can of­ten not be counted in a till.

The old adage of “Build it and they will come” re­ally ap­plies to the Win­ter League.

In my own club of Mal­low, the Win­ter League sees up to 400 count­ing rounds of golf be­ing played on a weekly ba­sis for the first 10 weeks of com­pe­ti­tion. The top eight teams out of the 25 com­pet­ing then play off in the quar­ters, semis and ul­ti­mately the fi­nal to see who will be crowned the Win­ter League Cham­pi­ons.

Mal­low Golf Club wasn’t the first club to em­brace a Win­ter League con­cept and it won’t be the last how­ever the en­thu­si­asm from many quar­ters of the club for a com­pe­ti­tion like the Win­ter League has shown many out­side Mal­low Golf Club just what can be achieved when it is done in the right way.

Win­ter golf isn’t here just yet but clubs will be turn­ing to shorter for­mats of the game real soon so keep at it through the colder months – your game will ben­e­fit in the long run.

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