Cork Golf clubs got a big boost over the weekend when Golf Ireland announced the recipients of a new grant scheme. Sixteen clubs received almost €300,000 in funding from Sport Ireland. The Club Resilience fund aims to provide short term financial help to golf clubs to support business resilience and sustainability after Covid 19. Fermoy were one of the clubs to be successful in this round of funding and Manager Denis Twomey was delighted with the news. “This resilience grant will help greatly towards a few key projects and the club is very grateful for the assistance. We are planning to develop our terrace area to cover the full length of the clubhouse overlooking the first tees. This will give the club extra capacity to allow members and visitors to enjoy themselves in a safe environment.” While Fermoy’s plans will certainly help in a time of social distancing, it also helps the club to broaden its community appeal, attracting golfers and non-golfers to the hospitality on offer from the bar and restaurant.
Applications opened in December and clubs were encouraged to apply under areas like sustainability, service improvement, training and education for staff and volunteers, programmes for vulnerable and under-represented groups to engage them in golf, modification of facilities and ways to reduce costs. In total Sport Ireland provided €2.8 million to grassroots clubs all over the country, with rural clubs in Cork doing well from the scheme.
Of the successful Cork clubs, Bantry Bay, Skibbereen and Muskerry all received the maximum amount of €25,000 while the North Cork trio of Doneraile, Mallow and Charleville received €20,000 under the scheme. Glengarriff were allocated €18,500 while Cobh, Fermoy, Kanturk, Kinsale, Macroom and Mitchelstown received almost €16,000 each. Clonakilty was the only proprietor owned club in Cork to receive a grant, it was allocated €14,575. The West Cork club, formerly known as Lisselan has plans to further develop the 12 hole course in what is a welcome development for the area. On the eastern side of the county Youghal was allocated €13,900 while on the western edge Berehaven received €12,800.
Applications were open to clubs who could demonstrate a genuine need for funding to address the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business and future sustainability. Upon receipt of application an eligibility check was completed to ensure the criteria were met and an assessment criterion was used to ensure clubs were only being scored on the information, facts and figures presented in the application and supporting documentation provided. Clubs with no entrance fee and no cash reserves were prioritised while all applications were anonymised to ensure applications were independently assessed and scored before going to the Funding Review Committee for further assessment and allocation of final awards.
Golf Ireland CEO Mark Kennelly “The Covid-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, a severe financial impact on golf clubs which have been closed for 5 of the last 12 months. The submissions received from clubs confirmed the significant need for financial assistance and Golf Ireland made a strong proposal to Sport Ireland for significant support for clubs. Golf Ireland is supporting its member clubs in every way we can and we are delighted to have secured this funding for clubs in the Republic of Ireland. A total of 145 clubs will receive funding from this scheme immediately and we hope that several more will benefit from Fáilte Ireland’s Business Continuity Fund in the coming months. In addition, we hope that many of our clubs in Northern Ireland will receive funding from the Sports Sustainability Fund in the near future.”
Although courses remain closed for the moment, it’s been a busy start to the year for Golf Ireland. The new body representing all amateur golfers in Ireland has launched a number of participation initiatives designed to build on the growing popularity of the sport in all sectors. The Get into Golf for women programme will continue in 2021, and there is also a new Golf 4 All programme which seeks to encourage greater accessibility for golfers with disabilities. The Golf Ireland Junior Framework is also being finalised and the Club Support Officers are keen to engage with clubs to support their membership development plans for 2021.
CEO Kennelly wrote to all clubs last week to update golfers on their efforts to see courses re-open. While golf has effectively been ruled out for March, many are hoping the golf will return during the first stage of the easing of restrictions. “I want to assure you all that we are engaging intensively with the relevant government departments and agencies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to highlight the safety and health benefits of golf. All of you did a great job last year in keeping golf safe at club level. That strong track record is really standing to us now as we make the case for golf to be one of the first sports to restart as soon as the public health situation allows.
Kennelly added: “Last month, Golf Ireland made a detailed written submission to the Irish Government on how golf can be safely resumed under the various levels of its Living with Covid Plan and a similar submission was made to the Northern Ireland Executive. We will continue to work closely with the public authorities to ensure that our sport is up and running again as soon as possible.”
There was positive news in relation to the interclub event and the national and provincial championships. “Golf Ireland’s Championships team and Regional Managers have been working on a revised schedule for the 2021 season to take into account the continuing challenges posed by the pandemic” said Kennelly. “With regard to the Regional and National Championships schedule, it is planned to commence the season at the end of May, subject to public health restrictions. Online entries for Championships will open on the week ending Friday 19 March. Despite the later-than-usual start, it remains Golf Ireland’s firm intention to run a comprehensive schedule. Golf Ireland’s Tournament Regulations are also being updated to take account of the evolving public health circumstances and will be published along with the fixture list shortly. Golf Ireland is extremely grateful to the host clubs involved for their patience, co-operation and continued enthusiasm, without which it would not be possible to provide such a comprehensive competition programme in the circumstances that currently prevail.”