The Irish Seniors Championship will be played at Thurles Golf Club early in July. It was previously held on the Turtulla course in 1998. International and championship golfer Jackie Harrington (Adare) was the winner. Local pride was preserved by T.J. Semple’s runner up placing. The return of the fixture adds to the status of Thurles in Irish golf, indicated over the years by such events as Irish Youths, Irish Boys, Munster championships at the same levels; interprovincials also; the rota of G.U.I. events in Munster from regional to provincial in the Caps Shields and the mixed foresome. The I.L.G.U. has seen Thurles as an excellent venue for its Munster matchplay competitions, as well as the national Girls championship.
This years Senior players will be coming to a club of considerable seniority. Thurles belonged to the first decades of Irish golf expansion. It shows its year of foundation with this newspaper – both marked their centenaries in 2009. After early domiciles in Leugh, Loughtagalla and Dovea it availed of the sale of the Barry estate at Turtulla in 1944 to gain a permanent and accessible home on the edge of town, in prime parkland. Both Turtulla House and the course itself have been adapted and expanded in the meantime – the character of both being maintained in the process.
The course is now a two-in-one layout, the second nine retaining the original McAllester design, with some lengthening over the years as tee-boxes were pushed back somewhat. It has been different on the first nine since development was embarked on in mid-decade and opened for play in 2007. The new design brought in sand-based greens in a radically altered set-up as the former “island” field beside the main stream of the Suir was bought into service and four of the nine holes were either entirely or party located in it. Experience has proved the merits of both sections of the course – lack of uniformity bothers no one.
Thurles is a bye-word for the stick game, of course, and the golf club is another ball-striking facility. In addition to the heavy programme of home competitions, it is happy to host visiting players, whether in casual or society format. Membership rates have been kept at very reasonable levels in current economic conditions – new members will find, in Turtulla, a fine test of ability, without undue severity; social amenities are top class – Parkers at Thurles G.C. provide dining facilities of a standard well known at its other outlets; squash and snooker for those so inclined. All in all a tremendous local asset.
Junior golf has been of increasing importance as numbers increase and playing standards reach heights of promise in many instances. With Category One handicaps attained and representative honours gained. No longer have the boys the scene to themselves as used to be the case. Junior Golf Ireland has lately chosen Thurles as one of the six clubs in the South/SouthEast region to take part in a “Girls N Golf” programme to run from the end of May to September. The aim is to increase the number of girls playing the game in Ireland – very appropriate as Ireland hosts the Solheim Cup this year. The ten-week programme will include five lessons from our P.G.A. professional Ger Jones, pitch and putt / par three sessions and an induction evening in the clubhouse. A Gala Day in July, a trip to the Solheim Cup are also featured. Girls interested in joining in this project may contact Ann Slattery at the club on 0504-21983.