Not satisfied with another very strong golfing season, Castlemartyr are running another open qualifier series, running all the way into December. The popular links style course was the venue for open competitions right through the peak season and now they have a top quality prize on offer for their November and December events. The series winner will win a trip for two to the Old Thorns golf estate in southern England. The Shaw family from Old Thorns recently completed the purchase of the five star resort in Castlemartyr and this is the first sign of collaboration between both venues. The qualifiers were very popular during the summer with up to 200 golfers competing weekly, obviously it’s a different time of the year but we’re still expecting a lot of interest. We’ve harvested a lot of the rough on the course and it’s in fantastic condition heading into the winter.
The “Race to Old Thorns” qualifier series will run every Tuesday and Wednesday all the way through to the 16th December with the series final taking place on Sunday 20th December. One golfer will qualify each day with the 12 winners doing battle for an early Christmas present. The entry fee is a very competitive €25 per person. The format is stableford (singles) and golfers must have a current GUI handicap to enter the qualifier. Although Castlemartyr isn’t the only Shaw family investment in golf, it’s currently the only one in Ireland. The owners have been involved in Old Thorns for many years and the hotel and golf course has earned a reputation as a hidden gem. “Although being a sensational parkland layout, Old Thorns has a couple of similarities,” said Sherwood, “they have some very strong par three’s & small undulating greens. It’s set in the rolling hills of Hampshire, designed by the club president and voice of golf Peter Alliss. Some tricky bunkers and strategically placed ponds and will only reward the most accurate of shots. It’s definitely a golf course fort any calibre of golfer.”
Like many clubs in the region, Castlemartyr is going to finish the year with a net increase in membership. “We’ve increased our membership again this year and we have a waiting list in place for 2015 so that’s all very positive” said Sherwood. “We recently secured our affiliation with the ILGU so that’s an area we’re planning to grow next year. As a course Castlemartyr has always had strong interest from ladies and the affiliation to the ILGU is the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of offering membership for lady golfers.” Revenue outside of membership is also improving according to the Australian native who has been in Castlemartyr since it opened: “The society business has been very strong and there’s definitely some growth in society golf. Walk-ins [green fees] are slightly down but the open singles competitions are up, so we’re going to continue to focus on the midweek competitions.” With a strong line of bookings already in place for 2016, The PGA Director of Golf is looking forward to the work that’s planned for the off-season as Sherwood described: “Our areas of concentration at Castlemartyr for 2016 will be on the grasses, our streamline signature bent grass greens, our tee box areas made up of fescue grass & Seabreeze GT mix and our sand based Rye and bent grass fairways. The golf course set up in 2016 will enable us to produce the best possible little cracker of an inland links in Ireland.”