The rain caused the postponement of the Munster PGA pro-am in Castlemartyr and this was the second event in succession that fell to the weather. The Munster PGA Captain is David O’Sullivan and although he is disappointed with the cancellation, he had little option but to put back the event. “The weather went against us during December and even though we had great entries for our Killarney and Castlemartyr events we decided to restage these events in the New Year” said O’Sullivan who is the Club Professional in Cobh Golf Club. He added: “We started the series with a Professional plus one amateur invite. This format was something we wanted to try and after early feedback it was a huge success with our opening event held at Fota Island Resort.” The opening event in November was won by David Ryan with a very impressive 63 on Fota’s Deerpark course. Ryan also won the pro-am where he partnered his Dad Ellis. The Munster PGA winter series has grown in strength over the past four years and is now very well supported by the large community of professionals in the province. The series is sponsored by Alan Dwyer from Premium Golf Brands (Eurostyle/Dwyers & Co) and each of the individual competitions are also sponsored by trade partners. O’Sullivan and his committee will have a busy start to 2016 with five events scheduled between January and March; “We’re looking forward to 2016 and some more settled weather to allow our winter series to gather some momentum. With dates to be confirmed we look forward to visiting Adare, Castlemartyr, Monkstown, Killarney and Waterville.
PGA Professionals operate on the frontline in most clubs, and in many cases they are involved in all aspects of the promotion of the club and the sport. David O’Sullivan started his PGA career under the direction of Bandon’s Paddy O’Boyle, arguable Cork’s most prolific mentor. O’Sullivan has seen plenty of ups and downs in his two decades as a pro, and he feels that the sport is back in growth phase: “From speaking to a lot of club professionals over the last few months there is a real positive feel for the coming year, with the economy improving we are beginning to see a lot of positive signs within the golf industry. From a personal point of view as the Club Professional at Cobh Golf Golf, I have noticed great stability leading to growth with our membership as our Course at Marino Point has matured so well. This year we have managed to invest in enhancing our facilities and with further plans for 2016 can only be positive for the future.” Cobh is a great example of a progressive club that has battled hard to survive and thrive in a challenging market. The members owned club opened their new 18 hole championship course in 2009 just when the interest in golf started to drop off.
Most clubs have been closed for the past two weekends and there’s every chance that they will be closed again this weekend with further rain expected. The persistent rain is of course causing much more hardship to businesses and homes in the form of flooding, but members clubs and private clubs are also suffering as closed courses impact on revenue. In addition to lost green fees, in many cases there’s also a knock on effect to the bar and restaurant revenue and the pro-shop. This is the longest weather delay since the big freeze in 2009, that saw some courses closed for up to 21 days as temperatures plunged to -10 and -12. Although it’s a quiet time of year, the enforced closures will leave a sour taste for many clubs. Despite anecdotal evidence that 2015 was a good year, many clubs are still struggling with membership numbers. And although membership has stabilised for many clubs, the rates they are charging, especially for new members, will have dropped in many cases. 2016 will prove to be another testing year for many clubs as they compete to maintain their current members and attract new joiners. The CGI has provided several supports to clubs and they have a large amount of information available to help club maximise their membership and revenue. Details of the programmes and supports are available from the CGI development officers.