McDonnell’s journey to PGA Cup team not straightforward

The PGA Cup line-up including Chris McDonnell, fourth from left
The PGA Cup line-up including Chris McDonnell, fourth from left

In June, I finished fourth in the PGA Championships in Ireland, meaning I automatically qualified for the PGA Cup, much to my delight, writes Chris McDonnell, academy manager at Golf at Goodwood.

The PGA Cup, in a similar style to the Ryder Cup, is a match between a PGA team representing Great Britain and Ireland against a PGA team from the USA.

Qualification was extremely satisfying for me as I had missed out two years ago by half a point.

The event takes place every two years and on this occasion will be played at Foxhills in Surrey from September 15 to 17.

In 2015, GBr and Ireland won the PGA Cup on US soil for the first time ever and if we manage to win this time round, we will be the first team to retain the trophy.

The team gathered a few weeks ago at Foxhills to get to know each other and get a taste of the course. The team is full of experience, with ex-European Tour players and winners among us. I’m actually the second youngest in the team at 35, so it really shows we have experience on our side.

This is something we’re trying to create at Golf At Goodwood with our junior leagues and coaching. It’s about creating an environment where a young player can develop naturally.

Chris McDonnell

Our captain Albert McKenzie and vice-captains Martin Thompson and Cameron Clark have done a fantastic job with getting the team to bond, which will be crucial when we come to play in September.

As PGA professionals we don’t get the chance to play team golf any more – the last time I played as a team was back when I was an amateur, playing for Northumberland and my local club Stocksfield.

I owe an awful lot to Stocksfield GC for my development as a player and becoming the professional I am today. Stocksfield is a small woodland course in Northumberland, very tight tee to green with very undulating fairways.

I was fortunate to be part of a very strong junior section at the time, which provided the perfect environment for a young golfer to develop in. In fact from that section, Stocksfield has produced four professionals, one of which is Chris Paisley, currently on the European Tour.

Having these players to compete against at such an early age was the catalyst for my success now.

This is something we’re trying to create at Golf At Goodwood with our junior leagues and coaching. It’s about creating an environment where a young player can develop naturally. We are starting to see signs of this success with the scratch team reaching the final of the Oliver Trophy.

Our Golf at Goodwood club champion Leo Ruggieri is just 18, but I think this is just the start of talented youngsters coming through.

It’s free admission for the PGA Cup and it will also be shown on Sky Sports. It’s a great opportunity to get close to the players and myself and the rest of the GB & I team would love your support.

* Chris McDonnell is academy manager at Golf at Goodwood. Email chris.mcdonnell@goodwood.com or follow @goodwood_golf on Twitter. Read his column monthly in the Chichester Observer and on this website.

AROUND THE CLUBS...

SELSEY

Presentation Day started with 32 Selsey GC veterans taking part in a 14-hole Stableford.

The course was in good condition and there was a breeze blowing but no rain.

Major presentations were made before the weekly competitions and the first to be presented was the Eddie Maghie Cup. Winner Vic Wade was presented with the cup by Sylvia Maghie and veterans’ captain Reg Ewens.

The Arthur Powis Cup was won by Ray Croxford and was presented by Eddie Williamson, the daughter of Arthur and a club member, and the vets’ captain.

A new award named the Responders’ Cup, named after a local charity raising money for the First Responders medical teams in Selsey, went to Alan Neno, and was presented by Liz Watson and the veterans’ captain, who later gave a cheque for £340 to Mrs Watson as a donation to the charity from the veterans’ section.

Many members went home with a bottle or two, others with just a smile on their faces having had a good day and beaten the rain.

BOGNOR

It was a lovely sunny day for Bognor ladies’ Shotgun Trophy, a great respite from the indifferent weather conditions at the end of July. The winning pair were Jan Boultbee and Sandra Coulton. Second were Rita West and Liz Little, third Heather Tidy & Sian Southerton, fourth Penny Entecott & Nicola Holton, fifth Wendy Johnson & Chris Tuke and sixth Edwina Beresford & Katie Lee.

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The Grannies’ Tot competition was held on an extremely windy day with some sharp showers, which made conditions tricky and scoring low. Sue Sidebotham, last year’s winner, arranged the day.

The winning granny was Sue Meloy. Second was Sue Sidebotham, third Sue Doughty and fourth Kay Dady. Nearest-the-pin-in-one prizes went to Chris Puddicombe (fifth hole) and Georgina McCormack (tenth).

A magnificent number of 92 Bognor seniors played in Chris Hickling’ senior captain’s prize day.

The excellent turnout demonstrated the respect he has after his year as club captain in 2016 and with his 30 years as a member.

The players were treated to breakfast, a port halfway round and a barbecue lunch after the competition.

Hickling presented numerous prizes and there was only two points separating the winners and runner-ups throughout the divisions and overall winners.

Results - Nearest the Pins: Trevor Till, Ron Hendrick, David Burden, Gary Steventon, Ian Paine; Div 2 - 1 John Chapman 41pts, 2 Paul Black 39. Div 1 - 1 Ron Stevens 40, 2 Peter Lott 40 (cb); Overall Winner: Simon Bennett - 41, 2 Stuart English 41, 3 Barry O’Brien 41.

There was an excellent turnout of 102 men and ladies for ever-popular Grayson Cup, formerly the Past Captain’s Cup.

The weather was glorious and the scores reflected the conditions. John Sullivan won with an excellent 43 points, Rob Kissell came second with 42, just beating club manager James MacLean on countback.

Bognor seniors entertained Ifield for the last time – both clubs move on next year to different fixtures. It was fitting that the last encounter was a tight affair with Bognor coming out 4-3 winners.

Bognor’s banker pair of Steve King and Terry Kuhler were given a demonstration in the short game by Ifield’s 84-year-old Norman Kennard. Ifield captain Phil Lewis gave a very warm speech reflecting the times both clubs have shared.

Results: Richard Kaemena & Richard Perry won 4&3 over Phil Lewis & Dale Gates, Mike Oates & Richard Hedge lost 3&2 to Steve Date & Graham Cole, David Turner & Sean Francis won 3&2 over Fred Mitchell & Gordon Spilling, Terry Kuhler & Steve King lost 2&1 to Gerry Lavery & Norman Kennard, Mick Matthews & Jim Stephenson won 2 up over Mike Roberjot & John Buck, Rob Redmond & Clive Millett won 1up over Roy Campbell & Dick Walters, Ken Catt & Paul Black lost 7&5 to Charlie O’Shea & John Trusson.

COWDRAY PARK

The ladies’ club champion at Cowdray Park is Lena Cullen.

Eighteen ladies competed in the 36-hole medal for the Munro Trophy and the title. It was a beautiful hot day and the course in stunning condition.

Lena achieved a gross score of 173 to win the trophy. The runner-up was Tessa Stockwell with 175.

The handicap prize was also keenly contested with Sue Brown finishing with a combined nett score of 153, closely followed by Gaynor Dudman on 155.

Tea and cake was enjoyed in the clubhouse after the golf, followed by the prize giving.

Cowdray seniors’ match away to Bramley Bobs was tinged with sadness following the recent death of Cowdray’s popular and long-time match manager for the fixture, Roger Poat.

Roger’s last playing partner Chris Hoare picked up the mantle and led to team in warm weather, hoping to repeat their win earlier in the year at Cowdray.

Although Bramley’s course looked lovely, Cowdray had arrived during Bramley’s annual course maintenance, which resulted in this work going on in and around the match and six temporary greens had to be used.

These matches are usually a tight well contested affairs by both teams.

First out was Hoare, although a combination of circumstances meant he was partnerless as he took on the same Bramley partnership he and Roger narrowly beat in their home match.

This time, the Bramley pair were in fine form to win 5&4.

It wasn’t much better for Cowdray’s second pair of Ian Fiander and Mike Holder who, in spite of recent good form, lost 4&3.

The tide started to turn with a stand-out performance from the Davids – Fowler and Wickham – with a great 6&5 win, and this seemed to invigorate Cowdray who lost only one other rubber against a pair receiving shots advantage over the low handicap Cowdray pair.

This resulted in Cowdray’s second away win of the season by 4½-3½ – a great performance by the whole team. Roger would have been very pleased.

Results: Chris Hoare lost 5&4, Ian Fiander & Mike Holden lost 4&3, David Wickham & David Fowler won 6&5, Peter Hallt & Ian Gunn won 2&1, Alan Bradley & Derek Smith won 3&2, Alan Gormley & Alan Robinson lost 2&1, John Wheelhouse and Richard Burden halved, Dave Coombes & Barry Overington won 2&1.

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