A number of top racing figures will have been off the track this week due to J.P. McManus; one of the most prestigious race-horse owners in the world and the man known to some as the ‘patron saint of gambling’; holding his Invitational Pro-Am Golf tournament at Adare in County Limerick.
The event took place at the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort on the 5th and 6th of July and aims to support mid-western charities and groups in their work with the underprivileged and disadvantaged. All proceeds from the event go to the development of these services and well over €55 million has been raised since the event began back in 1990. Prior to the event charities organise pre-qualifying tournaments throughout the country in a bid to enter teams in the Pro-Am.
The event which has a prize fund of €1 million is comprised of 56 teams of four players who compete over two days, with each team having one professional golf player and three amateurs. This year saw the fourteen major champions competing with thirty-five major titles between them. They are: Michael Campbell, Ben Curtis, John Daly, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover , Pádraig Harrington, Trevor Immelman, Tom Lehman , Sandy Lyle, Graeme McDowell, Mark O’Meara, José Maria Olazábal and of course the legendary Tiger Woods who holds fourteen titles!
Since it was first held in 1990 the tournament has grown from strength to strength, and while the first event raised almost €1.2 million for charities in the Limerick region, it has attracted more and more support, recognition, professional players, volunteers and celebrity contacts over the years. 30,000 tickets in the form of a baseball cap are sold each year for the star-studded event, at the cost of €50 each – spectators can chose from eight different coloured caps representing Ireland, Munster Rugby and each of the six Munster counties.
This year the likes of AP McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald and Ruby Walsh represent horseracing on the fairways while Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson, Hugh Grant, Michael Flatley, Kyle McLachlan, Aiden Quinn and Westlife were joined by sporting figures such as Jamie Redknapp, Martin O’Neill, Niall Quinn and Ireland rugby lock Paul O’Connell.
Last year’s winner was Padraig Harrington, but of course most of the media hype for the event surrounded Tiger Woods, who disappointed in his first round – he slumped to a seven-over-par 79 over almost six hours – he carded one birdie, six bogeys and a double bogey in what was his first appearance in Europe since the media frenzy that surrounded him following his extramarital affairs.
The thirty-six holes are played in the exquisite 840 acre estate of Adare Manor, which has been transformed by the Kane family into a five star hotel. The eighteen hole Championship course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr who is one of the most respected and best known golf course architects in the world, having designed forty-five of the top one hundred golf courses in the world. The Golf Club measures 7,453 yards and uses 230 acres of countryside. The Maigue Rives comes into play on three holes with a dramatic finish at the eighteenth hole, which Trent Jones considers to be possibly the best par five in the world.
So, not only a golf tournament with the attraction of celebrities and world class golf, the event is a rarity in its dramatic location and focus on the less fortunate in society, and could not exist without local community involvement and achievement.