THIS Sunday sees one of the flagship events in the Tullamore Pitch and Putt calendar, as the club remembers one of the stalwarts of our club and one of the greatest players to pick up a club in the game, Joe Pyke.
Joe was a gritty competitor in all sports that he played, yet was as gracious in defeat as he was in victory and for any player who knew him in Arden, his words of advice about how to conduct ourselves was always heeded.
The Pyke family decided to honour his memory with this tournament which is one of the most popular in the pitch and putt calendar as proven by the calibre of people who play in it annually, All-Ireland champions, both male and female, and of the distance some of the players travel to not only enjoy one of the best courses in Ireland, but to honour the memory of Joe.
The defending champion is the popular Sean Goggins from the Macbride club and it is hoped that the current All-Ireland Champion, John Ross Crangle will be in this event along with Offaly’s own Senior All-Ireland champion, William Buckley from Erry.
For many years now, the proceeds from this event have been donated to the Offaly Hospice, which is a cause very close to the hearts of many people and has undoubtedly helped so many people in urgent need.
Joe has passed on his traits to not only his sons and daughter, but to his grandchildren, who have inherited his competitive spirit and will to win, and to win this event is their dream. This event would not be possible were it not for the desire of his family to continue this tournament and it is the tournament that the majority of members would dearly love to win: our current competition secretary, Lorcan Bracken, had that honour in 2016 and it was a very special moment for him as it was Joe that encouraged him to take up the game as he was living nearby.
This year’s event is particularly poignant for the club, as the proceeds will be donated to a man who has graced our club with his kind heart and assistance for all who are lucky to know him, Mick Hogan. Mick is one of the most popular people to have played this game and is well respected and liked by all in the pitch and putt world, and is a man who helped anyone that needed help. His journey ahead is a long one, but he is a man that for all of us lucky enough to have enjoyed his company and observed his wonderful consistent play, will never forget and will strive to help him to the best of our abilities, as he would willingly do the same for any of us. Mick and his family need our help and support now more than ever, and, however, small a gesture of assistance may appear, we know it is helping an individual who would go the extra mile to help those in need.
His dedication to our club is unwavering and voluntary and every member benefitted so much from his loyalty and love for the club. The road ahead for Mick is unchartered territory and nobody knows the outcome, but if the club can assist in any small way, it is up to the members to always be available to help a man who deserves it and any other members in difficulty too. I cannot speak highly enough about Mick as not only did he help me out individually but was extremely nice to my daughter, Saoirse, when she was in Arden playing two years ago. Moments like that only highlight the calibre of the man and we can only pray that he makes some kind of recovery, as a person who thinks of helping others as much as possible surely deserves a high quality of life.
The Joe Pyke Masters is the culmination on Sunday of what should be a successful and competitive week for the club as scotch foursomes are on from Thursday to Saturday, which allows players the chance to not only to win around Arden but to gauge where their game is at.
The club is always available for new members and outings which provides the opportunity to show people how good our course is and contacting the club can be done through our Facebook page and firstname.lastname@example.org which has all the information about becoming a member and how to arrange outings on the course.
Obviously, as a member for over 30 years, I could be considered to be biased in my opinion about the course, but the sheer volume of players who play in our scratch cup events annually, is testament to how highly the course is rated by all of the players from other courses. And knowing that the proceeds of the Joe Pyke Masters are going to an individual as popular and well respected as Mick Hogan, will see a huge turnout next Sunday and for local players the advice to come early should be heeded and it is hoped that the weather will play ball too.