Championships to start next month at Castletown

Thursday 18th June 2020 7:00 am
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2019 Isle of Man Golf Champions Jamie Arneil and Lynda Simpson

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The 2020 Grant Thornton Isle of Man Golf Championships will go ahead at Castletown Golf Links next month.

With the W. A. Kirkpatrick postponed from June until August 30, it was always the case that the men’s and women’s close amateur championships might be rescheduled or even cancelled in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thankfully, after much deliberation and talks between host club Castletown GC and Isle of Man Golf, this year’s edition of the championships will now go ahead, albeit with a slightly tweaked format of straight matchplay.

For most local players and spectators, qualifying day is always an important and keenly anticipated one on the Isle of Man golfing calendar.

Each of the entrants will be looking to make it through to the final 16 matchplay stages after making the grade, or more precisely the 36-hole qualifying score.

Smiley faces, stressed faces and sad faces patrolling the score boards will not be seen this year. Instead it will be the top 64 entrants by handicap for each of the men and women who are going straight to the scratch matchplay stages.

Sunday, July 19 will see the first round of matchplay for both the men and the women, with a week’s break to accommodate other fixtures at Castletown for members.

The second round of matchplay will swing into action on Sunday, July 26 with the last-16 on Tuesday, July 28.

After a short rest period, the quarter-finals will take place two days later followed by semi-finals on July 31 prior to the finals for both men and women on Sunday, August 2.

Each round will be drawn and not seeded, therefore there will be potential for some upsets. On the day, the best in the island can succumb to rank outsiders, or with the shoe on the other foot there will be some quick results.

Special thanks must go to Denis McGurgan of Grant Thornton, not only for the continued sponsorship of this flagship event but for the consideration given in sponsoring what is a different format to the norm during these challenging few months.

Thanks must also go to Steve Keegan, chairman of the Castletown championship committee who is no stranger to island golf and a regular qualifier into the matchplay stages himself.

Also to Andi Howland from the team at the Links for all their efforts so far and commitment to the championship with their various team members.

With the shortened year of golf, it will be small compensation for Castletown Golf Club captains Graham Harris and Mary-Ann Dunn to be on official duty for the fortnight and Isle of Man Golf wish them both all the very best.

The greens staff should also be mentioned for their hard work in maintaining ’Fortress Castletown’, especially with the addition of the redesigned 18th hole which only officially opened two weeks ago - and what a hole it is.

What excitement will it bring in a few weeks’ time? A tough driving hole requiring a precise, testing second shot to a glorious new grandstand green with exciting backdrop views.

This is before we consider the wind; this could well be the deal maker or indeed breaker providing joy for some and tears for others.

One thing for certain is that the championships are very much on.

Reigning men’s champion Jamie Arneil will have his chance to defend the title he so gallantly won against serial winner Paul Lowey at Douglas last year.

Likewise, Linda Simpson will be looking for back-to-back wins after defeating Shirley Price in last year’s women’s championship. I wonder if either Jamie or Linda even thought it possible that this would be happening this year?

Entries close on July 5 for both men and women - in the event of oversubscription in each championship, there will be a ballot by handicap for the top 64 lowest handicaps. To enter, simply visit www.isleofmangolf.im

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