I have previously volunteered at TPC Sawgrass, Sea Island, East Lake GC, Gullane GC, and more, but this was my first time being a member of the greenkeeping team to actually be the host of a big tournament. I’ve had great fun with all the high-energy events, but by contrast the Amateur Championship here at Portmarnock Golf Club was a very nice and relaxed week.
This was the second time for Portmarnock to host the Amateur Championship, and half of the stroke-play (the first 2 days) was also hosted at The Island Golf Club, which is about 20 minutes north of Portmarnock GC. The first time was back in 1949, which also marked the first year it was held in Ireland.
Out of the 288 players from 37 different countries, the 2019 Amateur Champion was James Sugrue. Being that Sugrue is native to Ireland, the crowd was very excited to watch him bring home the win. Despite all the highly ranked American Amateur players, the Irish native was more accustomed to the style of links golf.
The course conditions don’t make it a cake walk. High wind speeds, firm playing surfaces, and deep revetted bunkers can really take a toll on your game.
The event wasn’t as highly commercialized and setup like the usual PGA/USGA tournaments I volunteer for, but I will say that I enjoyed the calm atmosphere. The Amateur Championship seemed to be a more traditional and old-school style venue that welcomed all golf lovers to attend. There weren’t ropes and stakes lining every fairway to prevent the fans from accessing parts of the course. You could walk just about wherever your heart desired.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the greens mowing team for the week, so you can bet I put on a laser show!
Everything had to be perfect for the tournament. That’s why we brought in Giles McDonagh from Tacit Golf to use his very own cup cutter and paint applicator, which is made by Tacit Golf.
The volunteers were an enormous help each morning. Some stuck around all week, and some swapped shifts with coworkers from nearby courses. Deputy Greenkeeper at Royal Dublin GC, Mark Burke stuck around with us all week, and he welcomed a different staff member from his course to assist us each day. That was a great idea!
The most credit for the week belongs to our Links Manager, Gary Johnstone (below left). He has put in countless hours with very early morning shifts and late-night meetings. I’m glad to be under Gary’s supervision this summer, because he sure knows what it takes to be the best!
After a good week of hard work, I decided to treat myself to the “Dublin Mountain Burger” at a pub in Dublin City called Darkey Kellys.