Change may be on the cards for Lisselan but it’s business as usual for the nine hole course and thriving club. The Blackburn family who have owned the estate for the past 25 years put the property up for sale but hopes are high that the course and club will remain. Lisselan golf course celebrates 21 years in existence this year and the nine hole course has a quirky history. Owner of the estate, David Blackburn and his family came to Lisselan 25 years ago and soon the idea of a golf course took hold. Planning difficulties resulted in only six holes being developed, mainly along the banks of the Argideen river in front of Lisselan House. Christy O’Connor Snr was on hand in 1994 to officially open the course and despite being a fairly unique 6 hole course, it did rank in the top ten of in Golf Fore Magazine’s 1,200 courses reviewed. It’s timely of course to remember that Lisselan wasn’t only about golf, 19 years ago Lisselan’s Imperial Call was the toast of Ireland as he romped home to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
It was always accepted that to be considered as a proper course, it should be extended to a 9 hole course. After several planning obstacles were cleared, and the small matter of a €1m investment the extended nine hole course in Lisselan opened in 2004. Christy O’Connor Snr was again on hand for the official opening. The existing six holes were reshaped into four and a new five holes were cut out of 50 acres of hillside and woodland. The project designed by Jack Kenneally involved moving thousands of tonnes of earth and re-shaping the top of a hill to turn this into a unique golfing challenge. Two trains were built to transport golfers and their bags to the 2nd and 4th tee boxes and the raft that transported golfers across the river to the 8th green was replaced by a new bridge to facilitate ride-on buggies. The par 72 layout of 5078 yards for Ladies consists of 4 par 5, 4 par 3, and 9 par 4. The Gents par 74 course of 6411 yards consists of 6 par 5, 4 par 3, and 8 par 4. Each hole is played twice with two sets of tees.
Lisselan became GUI and ILGU affiliated in 2004 and opened for membership. In a short time the club were successful at local and provincial level. The men’s club won junior and senior west Cork shields, McEvoy Shield, All Ireland Runners-up in Mixed Foursomes as well as Jimmy Bruen Shield, All Ireland Runners-up McEvoy Shield winners. The ladies club have won West Cork Shields in 2010 and 2012. The strong and vibrant boys club formed in 2006 by Mark Blackburn and Captain Jerry Ryan were runners-up to Berehaven in the 2014 West Cork Shield when the match went to the last shot on the 18th. Captains Denis Dullea and Louise Cavanagh are busy getting ready for a full programme with teams entered at all levels. The club is offering a special promotion join-up fee of €210 plus the usual GUI/ILGU levies for the first year. Full membership is €390 plus levies, a seasonal membership of €275 is available and student membership is €150.
While golf course sales are not common place, it can mean good news. If you take the experience of Fota Island, the sale to the Fleming Group 2006 resulted in the establishment of a new nine holes and an international class academy. When the property was sold again in 2013 the new owners invested in several course improvements and backed to hosting of the Irish Open in 2014. Time will tell what’s in store for the West Cork gem, but right now everyone is looking forward to a busy golfing year.
Heavy overnight rain forced the postponement of the Munster PGA event on Monday. Monkstown was due to host the Morgan O’Donovan Perpetual Trophy, it will now be rescheduled for a date in early April. The next event on the PGB winter series takes place in Waterville on Monday 23rd March.