2012 Championship Winner - Rory McNamara (Headfort)
The 2012 Championship was won by Rory McNamara (Headfort).
The 2013 Championship will be played at Royal Portrush Golf Club from 8 - 12 July.
On-Line Entry is available via the link to the right of this page
Click here for a copy of the 2013 Competition/Tournament Conditions
Refund of Entry Fee:
Entries will not be accepted by letter or telephone and entry fees will not be refunded unless intimation of scratching is received before the closing date for receipt of entry.
Use of a Buggy:
In order to compete in any Ulster Branch Championship/Competition using a buggy, players must conform to the GUI Buggy Policy and have a certificate of disability signed by a registered medical practitioner in the current year – see attached policy and sample certificate for completion. Please note: Buggies will not be provided by the Ulster Branch and their use is subject to the host club permitting the use of the same on their course, during the Championship/Competition in question.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------History of the Championship
The North of Ireland Championship has over the last number of years become the biggest and most successful of the major Provincial Championships within Ireland. Each year the Ulster Branch receives upwards of 400 entries of which 300 are accepted with a handicap of around 2.5 or lower. Because of the large entry which leads to the acceptance of a higher handicap than the other major championships in Ireland more young promising player are able to enter. This gives these younger players the opportunity to play the Dunluce Links, one of the great links courses in the world, along with the highly rated Valley Links. Over recent years increased entries have been received from “the South” and from further abroad making this a truly international championship.
The history of the Championship is interesting in that similarly to all the four provincial championships the original idea of running a scratch competition came from the Royal Portrush Golf Club. The original competition was named the Ulster Scratch Singles and was played from 1937 to 1946 as an 18 hole qualifying event with 8 to qualify for match play and an 18 hole final. The Championship trophy “The Harriman Cup” was presented originally to the club by a Mr. H.M.Harriman who won the United States Amateur Championship in 1899 beating the holder Mr. F.S. Douglas 3/2 in the final. Sadly Mr. Douglas was beaten again the following year in the final by Walter Travis who went on to win the Amateur Championship in 1904.
The competition was originally played during the Easter Holidays. In 1947 the Ulster Branch was asked by the club to take over the running of the competition from which time it became known as the North of Ireland Championship. Various changes took place over the years in the structure of the Championship. For the first time in 1953 the Valley Links was used with 8 players qualifying after 36 holes stroke play and a 36 hole final. In 1955 it became a four day event with 32 to qualify following 36 holes stroke play and an 18 hole final. From 1956 to 1964 the final was played over 36 holes. From 1965 to the present the format became 36 holes qualifying over the two links courses with 64 to qualify and an 18 hole final played over 5 days during the July holiday week.
Over the years many players managed to win the championship twice and the goal of a third title was eagerly sought. Perhaps it was possible that a player from Shandon Park had the best chance with eight players having won the North on two occasions. This was not to be as Garth McGimpsey from Bangor having won in 1978 and 1984 brought his winning total to five when he won three titles in a row in 1991, 1992 and 1993. To cement his total control of this championship he won the qualifying gold medal also on five occasions. This incredible individual success by Garth will surely never be equalled.
There were many excellent scores returned over the years in the qualifying section of the championship. The first player to break the 140 mark was Gordon Tinsley (Bangor G.C.) in 1969. The record low qualifying total to date was set in 2003 by Darren Crowe (Dunmurry) with an incredible total of 131. In 2005 Rory McIlroy (Holywood) returned a score over the Dunluce Links of 61 which caused expressions of doubt from the championship scorers. This proved to be a correct score and when asked how he felt playing the eighteenth hole he said he was nervous and tried to play for a safe four and a score of 62. When he looked at his putt he fancied it and proceeded to hole out for an unbelievable 61 and a total of 132. Padraig Harrington returned a fine total of 133 in 1994 and having lost narrowly to Garth McGimpsey in 1992 and to Keith Nolan in 1995 he turned professional. Other players who have had success in the North of Ireland and successfully joined the professional ranks are: Norman Drew, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Michael Hoey, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Garth Maybin and Shane Lowry.
The championship welcomed many entries from beyond the province of Ulster through the years from; England, Scotland, Isle of Man, Germany and USA. Also over the years many of the top players from across the border have competed, attracted as much by wanting to play the famous Dunluce Links as attempting to win the Championship. Frank Webster (Portmarnock) was the first player from “the South” to take the Harriman Cup across the border followed by Bob Fleury (Monkstown) 1955, Arthur Pierce (Tipperary) 1987, Keith Nolan (Bray) 1995, Michael McGinley (Grange) 1996 and Shane Lowry (Esker Hills) 2008. On only one occasion has the Harriman Cup left the shores of Ireland and this was in 1994 when Nick Ludwell (Selby) beat Jody Fanagan (Milltown) in the final.
In 1996 to mark the fiftieth year of the Championship special medals were struck and a gathering of past winners attended the annual launch in Aurther’s bar at Guiness Headquarters in Belfast. A dinner was held at Royal Portrush for the past winners and officials of both the Ulster Branch and Royal Portrush Golf Club. A most enjoyable evening when many tall stories were exchanged.