Francie comes good

Francie comes good

6 October 2021

SATURDAY saw the climax of Ardglass Golf Club’s 125th anniversary celebrations, with an open stableford competition sponsored by the AJC Group. 

The company, which specialises in festive lighting, electrical and event services and retail, has been sponsoring the Ardglass club generously for a number of years and one of the talking points of the day was a magnificent £10,000 cash prize on offer for a hole-in-one at the par three 12th.

A torrential early morning downpour soaked many of the early starters, but although a strong wind continued to blow, conditions were warm and sunny for the rest of the day for most of the 160 players.

One of the group’s managing directors, Declan Murdock, was on hand to see players set off from early light and was again present that evening to see first prize handed to the eventual winner, who turned out to be none other than his father, Francie.

Playing off a five-handicap, Francie was round in a one over par 71, with three birdies on his card, including one at the 18th which saw him finish on 41 points.

The runner-up was Conaill Taggart, who was the leader in the clubhouse for about an hour on 40 points and whose strong back nine included a birdie at the 15th.

In next place was Jack David, in his first competition of the year. Playing off 13, he reached the turn with 21 points and was still going well until a disaster at the 16th, but his 39 points total was still good enough for a clear third place.

Four players finished on 38 points and had to be separated on count-back. Fourth spot went to ex-club champion Ciaran Fitzsimons, whose round of 73 included birdies at the 11th and 15th.

Barry Gilliland took fifth place after finishing in great style with eight consecutive pars.

Former club president Peter McEvoy rolled back the years by taking sixth spot thanks to a very steady back nine, while Barry McEvoy finished seventh. 

Prizes continued down to tenth place, with Thomas Bell, Michael Rooney and Gareth Smyth picking up the honours.

The best gross round of the day came from Daniel Vaughan. The Killough man had a sparkling 68, birdieing all the par fives along the way. 

The second gross prize went to Chris Prior with a 75 and the guest prize was won by Darren McConville with 37 points.

In addition to the £10,000 on offer at the 12th, AJC Group provided opportunities to win big prizes for a hole-in-one at each of the other par threes. 

With most of the holes playing into a stiff breeze, any shot reaching the green was a good one, but unfortunately nobody managed to hit the jackpot. 

Barry Gilliland came closest to the £10,000, missing the hole by only a couple of feet at the 12th. 

Nearest the pin awards at each of the other holes went to Barry McEvoy at the second, Jackie Strain at the fifth, Chris Prior at the seventh and Anthony Carson at the tenth.

Saturday’s event was the final event of a series of competitions during the week, all sponsored by the AJC Group. 

An open mixed singles event was won by Paddy McManus, with other prizes going to Mark Carson, Sean Laird, Paddy McEntee and Phil Gelston.

A well-supported open mixed four-ball competition resulted in a win for Terry Rooney and Lorne Campbell, the minor places going to Tommy Fegan and Brendan Teer, Hilary Milligan and Roisin Byrne, George Maxwell and Neil Martin, as well as Brian Gaffney and Stuart Campbell.

The winners of the four-person open team event were Michael Harrison, Eugene Mageean, Vincent MacNabb and Patrick Cahir.

Another great array of prizes were on offer for the AJC Group ladies’ open the previous Wednesday, with the top spot going to Regina Fitzsimons. The runner-up was Mary King and in third place was Joan Dickson. 

Further prizes went to Maire Cahill, Monica Magee, Carol McMeekin, Una Kelly, Frances McEvoy-Smart, Twyla Gibson and Catriona Thompson.

The club’s junior members were not forgotten and the prizewinners in this competition were Conor Keenan, Ciara Milligan and Thomas O’Brien.