The Women's Amateur

Strong Irish contingent seek success on home soil at The Women’s Amateur

The R&A
23 Jun 24
3 mins

When The 121st Women’s Amateur Championship gets underway at Portmarnock on Monday (24 June), there will be ten Irish players on the start sheet aiming to win on home soil.

Aine Donegan of Lahinch GC in County Clare will be one of the favourites chasing success at the renowned venue north of Dublin. The 22-year-old Louisiana State University student is currently 75th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®).  Last month, Donegan played at Lancaster Country Club in her second consecutive US Women’s Open having won a qualifying event at Rockwall Golf and Country Club to make it into the championship. Donegan also played in the 2023 US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach where she put on a fine showing, finishing the first round just one shot off the lead and featuring prominently.

Home hopes for Aine

An Irish international team player, Donegan is looking forward to having an opportunity to compete in a Women’s Amateur Championship on home turf. “As someone from Ireland, I am extremely excited for The Women’s Amateur Championship to be held in Ireland this year,” she said.  And with plenty of experience playing links golf, she is relishing the prospect of a testing week. “I have grown up playing links golf and love the challenge of it,” she added. “Links golf requires you to hit the fairway and keep the ball out of the long, thick rough. Being able to play bump and run chips is important too. The greens are quite slopy at Portmarnock so being able to read them and get the correct speed will be vital.” 

Aine Donegan - Ireland

“The opportunities available for the winner of the Championship are amazing. The opportunity to play in multiple majors as an amateur in one year is something that not many amateurs can do.”

Major opportunity

The winner of this year’s Women’s Amateur Championship gains entry into the AIG Women’s Open, the US Women’s Open, The Amundi Evian Championship and by tradition, will earn an invitation to compete at the Augusta National Women's Amateur. “The opportunities available for the winner of the Championship are amazing,” says Donegan. “The opportunity to play in multiple majors as an amateur in one year is something that not many amateurs can do.”  Donegan came fourth in the 2024 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Championship last month and was tied second to Maisie Filler in the Moon Invitational in February. Irish players also currently in the top 100 on the WAGR® and playing in The Women’s Amateur Championship at Portmarnock, are Sara Byrne of Douglas GC in Cork and Beth Coulter of Kirkistown Castle GC in County Down.

In-form Byrne

Byrne, who has a Handicap Index of +8.2, has enjoyed an excellent run on the US collegiate circuit. Representing the University of Miami, she won the Hurricane Invitational at the end of 2023 and has recorded six further top-ten tournament finishes since then. Coulter is also currently studying in the USA, attending Arizona State University. Coulter won the Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship of 2022 at the age of just 17. In last year’s Women’s Amateur Championship at Prince’s in Kent, Coulter finished first in the stroke play qualifying, posting excellent rounds of 69 and 70.

About the Championship

The Women's Amateur Championship is one of the leading championships in amateur golf for women and girls’ golfers. The championship, founded in 1893, attracts an international field with an impressive list of former winners including McCormack Medal winner Leona Maguire and major champions Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist. Last year, Chiara Horder of Germany was the Champion at Prince’s in Kent.  The 144-strong field will take part in the stroke play stage on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 June, playing 36 holes. From there, 64 players will advance to the match play stage from Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 June. Golf was first played at Portmarnock in 1894 and the club has played host to many prestigious events, including 18 Irish Opens. In 2019, Portmarnock was the venue for The Amateur Championship, won by home player James Sugrue.  With such a strong field competing for the title and such exciting opportunities available to the victor, it looks set to be a brilliant week of golf. More information on The Women’s Amateur Championship