Mourne Golf Club News

By Paul Gallagher


Last Sunday’s competitions presented the toughest tests of the year when the Mourne Golf Club Scratch Cup and Junior Scratch Cup were played from the championship tees at Royal County Down.

The Championship Links is a stern test from any tees, but on rare occasions, members set themselves up for a tilt at the ultimate test on the world-famous links from the blue tees on a course measuring almost 7,300 yards.

As the names suggest, all players entered in the two competitions play off scratch. A level playing field without handicaps. Man against course in the least amount shots possible.

The Scratch Cup is for the lowest handicap golfers in Mourne with the Junior Scratch Cup eligible for higher handicap golfers, but primarily still single handicap golfers.

Drama from two of the club’s blue riband events were documented with live leaderboards in the clubhouse as onlookers witnessed the scoring unfold in real time.

In the end, Noel Crawford finished strongest of all to land the Scratch Cup with a two over 73, while Sean O’Higgins was a comfortable winner of the Junior Scratch Cup after carding an 80.

Crawford has enjoyed a busy season where his efforts on the road had him on the fringes of Ireland Senior panel (over 50s). Such consistency and form came to the fore last Sunday when the plus two-handicapper bounced back from a mid-round slump to finish strongly.

Crawford picked up birdies at the first and sixth but six dropped shots meant he turned in four over 39. He kept the fireworks for the back nine where a third birdie came at the 11th and an all-important birdie at the par five 18th.

“I knew it was tight and thought I needed a birdie at 18. Fortunately, I knocked my third into one foot to set up an easy birdie,” said Crawford after his round. “It was great fun out there. We don’t often get the chance to test ourselves from the very back tees. It’s a great test and conditions weren’t easy either.”

Crawford’s closest challenger was another plus two golfer, Stephen Barker. He also had a slow front nine but raced into contention with a couple of late birdies at the 16th and 17th. However, knowing he needed another birdie at 18 to tie with Crawford, Barker dropped a shot at the final hole to finish second with a 74. Paul Gallagher was third with 75, one ahead of James Maginn (76) in fourth with Patrick McNiff (78) fifth.

O’Higgins’ win was a more straightforward affair as he signed for an 80 to win by four from Jack Keenan (84) in second, while Kieran O’Connor (87) was third, Rory McNiff (88) was fourth with James Morgan (92) fifth.

Last Thursday’s stableford competition was won by Michael McKibbin with a great score of 40 points. McKibbin edged out Paddy Proctor (39) in second after beating PJ Johnston (39) on a countback. Neil Alexander headed the chasing pack on 38 points that included Eugene Cunningham, Matthew Murphy and Terry O’Toole.


Noel Crawford (pictured) after winning the Winter Series at Royal County Down in 2021. Crawford won the 2022 Scratch Cup and Sean O’Higgins won the Junior Scratch Cup at Mourne Golf Club.