This year proved to be another very positive one for Castlemartyr, now 11 years old, the golf course and the club are both thriving. A growing membership in the club underpins the progress in Castlemartyr and Breffne McKenna is happy to report an impressive scorecard for 2019. “Membership is doing great we are up to over 460 now. The club grew from 320 to 460 in 2019, very good growth and we are still open to membership applications at the moment” explained McKenna, the Director or Golf in Castlemartyr. “The Ladies Club continues to build slowly but it’s the Men’s and Intermediate Categories that are growing very fast (18-25). Alan Gleeson our resident PGA Professional has classes for new or interested parties who are looking to start golf and not too sure if they want to commit to membership. This is also great for the ladies who are not 100% sure they will like the game.”
“He also has conducted some club fitting days with Titleist and these proved to be a huge hit with the members during the year. The Juvenile club is still busy but only during the summer months, so we hope to look for more juveniles in 2020.” On the club front Captain Anthony O’Dwyer, Lady Captain Mary Arigho and President John Paul Twomey will see their terms come to an end soon, the gents and ladies clubs are set for a positive 2020 with Eddie Harty coming in as Captain, Frances Mellerick is the incoming Lady Captain and Vincent Reddy is the incoming President. With strong committees behind the Officers, the clubs should continue to thrive as the sport in general recovers from the reduction in playing numbers over the past decade.
The course In Castlemartyr is essentially the same as it was first designed by the legendary Ron Kirby. The master of the Old Head, Dromoland and Mount Juliet took a creative leap in Castlemartyr. He styled the course as an inland links, a course designed in such a way that the ball would run in a similar fashion to a seaside links. Bordered with tall marram grasses, and a surprisingly large amount of gorse, the course was an instant hit. Playable by all levels, the shallow greens and testing back tees was built to accommodate both the casual resort visitor and the serious scratch man. Over the 11 years that it has been open, outside of some drainage work and pruning of the gorse, the course is the same. In fairness to Kirby, he got it right from the start and the greenkeeping team have been able to maintain his vision.
With Paudie O’Sullivan at the helm as course superintendent for over two years, he had led the ongoing maintenance and also the bunker restoration programme that’s going into its second year. Over the past 11 years, Castlemartyr has become a firm favourite for Cork golfers of all levels. A popular place for societies, the course also hosts weekly opens, several green fee slots, as well as catering for guests of the five star resort. With well over 20,000 rounds being played every year, it takes a large team to ensure the course and the resort is always presented in top condition. With slick greens that run a summer speeds all year around, Castlemartyr will be a popular place over the coming months as it continues to attract large numbers of guests from all categories. The recently refurbished Pod clubhouse also adds to the appeal of the resort, as its open to hotel guests as well as golfers. Castlemartyr is also benefitting from the growing international golf tourism market, and Breffne has been busy working on making sure the international market knows all about the five star east Cork resort.
Working with the Tourism Ireland team, Breffne attended several events this year. “My efforts have been looking at the international and national golfers and worked with Tourism Ireland and the Golf Ireland team in 2019. We met in excess of 140 agents last year in the USA and Europe who are looking to book in their clients into the Resort and play the very famous Ron Kirby course! Visitors are from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and now Norway and Sweden are our new markets to look at for 2020. And of course the US being as always one of our biggest golfing markets.”