The Irish Amateur Open Championship is an amateur golf tournament held annually in Ireland and organised by the Golfing Union of Ireland. The championship has been played as a 72-hole stroke-play event since 1958. Previously it was played as a match-play tournament. Royal Dublin has hosted the event a record of 29 times, most notably between 1998 and 2016 they held the event 17 times.
The Irish Amateur Open Championship 1998-2016
Louis Oosthuizen’s Open Championship success in 2010 added his name to a select group of history-making golfers who have won the Irish Amateur Open Championship and the Claret Jug. Oosthuizen joined Harold Hilton, John Ball Junior, and Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington as the double achievers by his victory at St Andrews. Harrington won the first staging of the revived Irish Amateur Open in 1995, his last season as an amateur. His peak years as a professional were 2007 and ’08 in which he won The Open Championship twice and the US PGA Championship. South African Oosthuizen reached the pinnacle by winning The Open at the home of golf, St Andrews, eight years after his international breakthrough in the 2002 Irish Amateur Open.
The Championship had been discontinued after 1959, but a decision by the GUI to restore the national stroke play event in 1995 proved significant for the Irish golfing scene. First, it offered valuable competitive experience to home players of 72 holes medal play. Another key benefit was the international dimension as the new-look Amateur Open began to attract some of the best players from overseas. The Championship reached another level by Royal Dublin agreeing to host the tournament on a regular basis from 1998, thereby guaranteeing the international players competition on a first class links course. All of these elements combined to present the tournament in the best possible light at home and abroad.
The Royal Dublin staged the Amateur Open 16 times between 1998 and 2016. Many of the competitors and a number of the champions who emerged from The Royal Dublin’s years as host have gone on to become winners on the European and PGA Tour. Louis Oosthuizen was joined in the 2002 Amateur Open by compatriot Charl Schwartzel, who was to become The Masters Champion of 2011. Ireland’s Michael Hoey of Shandon Park, won the Irish title in 1998, the first year Royal Dublin hosted the Championship. Hoey also won on Tour, as did Richard McEvoy, the 2001 Amateur Open champion. Two more home players, Noel Fox (2000/2003) and Gavin Moynihan (2012 and 2015) joined Keith Nolan (1996/1997) as dual champions in the modern era.
Course development work at the club caused the GUI to seek alternative venues for 2004, ’05, and ’06. The Royal Dublin came back on stream as the host venue from 2007 through to 2016 inclusive. During that time, Irish internationals enjoyed a fruitful run of success against strong British and continental opposition. Alan Dunbar (2010), Robbie Cannon (2013), Gavin Moynihan (2012 and 2015), and Colm Campbell (2016) kept the trophy at home five times on the Dollymount links – a notable level of success against strong foreign opposition.