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PHOTO: Cathal Butler (Kinsale) celebrates. Photo by Golffile.
Entries are now open for all of the Golfing Union of Ireland's national and provincial championships for 2019, which is already proving to be a year of sweeping change in the game of golf.
Online entry can be accessed here - https://www.golfnet.ie/online-entry.
With the publication of Golf's New Rules, the Championships at national and provincial level will be accompanied by regulations in a new format. Instead of a Tournament Conditions Book, a new set of General Regulations have been published to take account of a new status provided for Local Rules and Terms of Competition.
The Competition Regulations for national and provincial championships are now available to view online here.
Over the coming weeks, an additional set of reformatted regulations for national and provincial inter-club events, including the AIG Cups and Shields, will be added to this link.
Entrants to Championships are advised that they must enter a handicap number in the applicable part of the online entry form (Golfnet number for entrants on the island of Ireland) or their entry will be deemed incomplete.
Summary of important changes to Championships and Inter-Club Events for 2019
· Ulster Stroke Play Championship: The Ulster Branch have agreed to take over the conducting of the North of Ireland Stroke Play, previously conducted by Galgorm Castle.
· Fred Perry Trophy: In accordance with the motion passed at the Annual Delegates' Meetings in 2017, the Irish Seniors Inter-Club Championship will be inaugurated in 2019, and will be called the Fred Perry Trophy.
· Code of Conduct Policy: The Code of Conduct Policy for Championships is a new provision which empowers Committees to penalise players in championships (in shot terms) for demonstrable bad behaviour. The full code is contained in the GUI Championships General Regulations.
· West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship: For one year only, and to coincide with the staging of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship at Co. Sligo, the West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship will take place over 72 holes of stroke play, and not on Easter weekend but rather on 4th-7th April 2018.
· Provincial Seniors Open Championships: A significant change is being made to the domestic game at Seniors level, with the four Provincial Seniors Championships lowering their lower age limits from 55 to 50 on the recommendation of the Irish Seniors Selection Committee. The Irish Seniors Amateur Open Championship will remain an over-55s competition in line with those of the four Home Unions and The R&A, but the move by the Branches aligns Ireland's regional seniors championships with those of Scotland, where regional championships run under the auspices of the Scottish Seniors Golf Society have a lower age limit of 50. The Irish Seniors Order of Merit, played for the Michael Hennelly Award, will now by an over-50s Order of Merit in which the five Over-50s competitions will count.
· Provincial Mid-Amateur Open Championships: After a detailed analysis of participation figures and player feedback data on priorities, the four Provincial Branches have agreed to reduce the number of holes played in each Mid-Amateur Championship from 54 to 36. The Irish Mid-Amateur Open Championship – the season-ender in the Mid-Amateur game – will remain a 54-hole event.
· Barton Cup (Leinster): Caddies are prohibited in the 2019 Barton Cup competition.
· Irish Amateur Close Championship: The count-back method, as opposed to a playoff, will determine the final qualifying berths in 2019. This is due to the additional difficulty of managing the field starting and finishing time with a single-tee start (which is necessary in the next two venues for the event), as opposed to a two-tee start.