The last nine weeks have been challenging for Cork’s golfing community, to borrow a phrase from Muskerry, it started with Abigail and continues with Imogen. The past two months have been unprecedented in terms of the disruption caused by the weather. While a bit of frost and even snow might be expected, the volumes of rainfall have effectively shut down the business of golf across the county and beyond. While course and clubhouse damage has been minimal, the disruption has been severe. Courses, bars and restaurants and pro-shops have all been affected, with courses in particular seeing footfall drop to close to zero since November. Muskerry is a case in point, the ladies club has completed just one competition since November with eight consecutive cancellations since the start of December. The Men’s club in Muskerry hasn’t fared much better with seventeen competitions cancelled since November. It’s not all bad news however as the club has succeeded in growing it’s adult membership.
In November the club launched an innovative offer aimed at new members and those who might have held a GUI handicap in the past. Late last year members in Muskerry approved a new scheme that will see new members pay €520 in their first year of membership. They then graduate to €700 in the second year and €900 in the third year. After the third year the member reverts onto the normal membership rate. “We see that increasing golfers in our under 35 age bracket would benefit the club and therefore we came up with a plan said Muskerry’s Joe O’Keeffe, The aim is to help those who fall under the age category to get either back into golf or to come into golf in the first instance.” Joe O’Keeffe explained “We also wanted to give a benefit to our own Junior and Student golfers who fall into this age bracket, that when they come out of the Junior and Student categories that they didn’t have to come straight into full membership and the cost involved with that. We think it’s a great offer for a quality city course and would hope that young people will jump at the opportunity to get into golf at an affordable rate.” Members joining under the new offer can only avail of it once. In addition to the under 35’s rate, Muskerry also have a new members rate of €800 for the first year for new members who don’t qualify for the under 35 offer. The initiative has been a great success, attracting well over 50 new members to the club.
Fernhill Golf Club in Carrigaline is another golf club that suffered over the past two months. Having rebuilt the membership to over 400, this has been the first major break in play that has impacted the course. “Our 18 hole course has been closed since early December, with just a few nine hole competitions played” said Fernhill owner Alan Bowes. “We have kept our Clubhouse and Driving Range open during this period, which have been busy. The course is limestone based which generally gives great drainage, but since the course was built in 1993 we’ve never seen the unprecedented amounts of continuous rainfall. The members have been very patient and supportive during the course closure and we have received very positive feedback about preserving and improving the course.” Despite the fact that they had to cancel a number of society bookings over the Christmas period, Alan is looking forward to a busy spring as all of the societies re-booked for later in the year. Membership is still growing at the Carrigaline course so despite the short-term weather issues the positive trend from 2015 is set to continue.
Ian Stafford will be running a Girls Golf Taster programme starting next month. The format of the program will be 5 group sessions with PGA Advanced Professional Ian Stafford covering the basics of the golf technique and fundamental sports movement followed by a final on course fun scramble. The content of the course is suitable for both beginners and improvers and girls don’t need any prior experience or equipment to take part. The course is an Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU) Approved Program carried out by Ian Stafford Golf Coaching. This year the program is open to girls under 13 on 1/1/16. Times will dependant on the total number of applications but the evening times will be after 6.30pm and the Saturday times will be early afternoon. Further times/days may be added according to demand. The cost of the course is €40 and anyone interested should contact Ian Stafford on 086-3451578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.