Enthusiasm among golf fans for the this weekend's Ryder Cup re-kindles memories of the week in 2006 when movers and shakers in the world's golf and property industries congregated in the little village of Straffan, Co Kildare, to watch the top European and US golfers vie for the coveted Ryder trophy.
On that week many Irish enthusiasts believed that the arrival of the world's premier golf event, with Irish players among the stars, would also propel Irish golf properties to the game's top ranks.
Unfortunately that year marked the peak in the Irish property market and within a few years many of those who bought houses on golf developments must have found themselves ruing their over-investment of time, money and enthusiasm in those small white balls.
Among the buyers of golf homes were entrepreneur Sarah Newman and her partner Kilkenny hurler DJ Carey who had homes in both the K Club and Mount Juliet golf courses.
They weren't alone as developers such as Sean Dunne, Sean Mulryan and Noel Smyth were among those who had bought at the K Club prior to the Ryder Cup. A key motivator was the opportunity such houses presented to host parties for Irish and international customers and bankers as they viewed the players in action.
On the other side singer Ronan Keating and gym owner Ben Dunne sold their K Club houses before the RyderCup and pocketed peak prices.
At least 10 properties at the K Club are currently for sale and it is believed that some are also available for off market deals.
In the newer Ladycastle section of the resort, asking prices now range from €300,000 for a two-bedroom duplex up to €450,000 for a four-bedroom detached cottage-style house. The three bedroom 167sqm detached house, 947 Ladycastle, is now asking €400,000 with Nolan & Brophy. At peak, similar houses would have fetched over €1m -- a drop of 60pc.
"Prices for some of the houses are now close to what the fit-out alone might have cost at the market peak," one agent commented.
During the boom values are believed to have ranged from €1m in some sections to as much as €5m in the most exclusive Churchfields section. A number of agents say it is difficult to ascertain current prices for the more lavish houses as these have not come on the open market.
One agent reports current demand for two-bedroom apartments at Ladycastle when they are priced between €200,000 to €250,000 -- provided that the buyers don't have to pay a club membership fee of around €7,000.
With management fees of around €3,000 a year for the property alone, paying membership fees makes the purchase expensive, especially since reductions in green fees makes it cheaper to pay for play at least early in the week.
However they also concur that there has been an upsurge in longer term rentals with both families and single people taking one-year leases on houses and apartments.
Rents can range from €1,000 per month for a two- bedroom unit in Ladycastle or the Ryder Cup Village, up to €5,000 per month in the Churchfields section where the most valuable homes are built.
This trend towards families, either buying or renting, has also been noticed in other golf developments. For instance at another Kildare course, Carton in Maynooth, a majority of the houses are owner occupied rather than second homes or rental investments.
Irish international golfer, Shane Lowry, winner of the Irish Open, bought one of the Leinster Wood houses at CartonDemesne last year.
At the launch of Carton's 2,000 sq ft four-bedroom Earl homes these semis were priced from around €750,000 and are now selling for around €530,000. The 3,800 sq ft six bedroom detached Emily houses were priced around €2.2m in 2007 and are now around €1m, while detached dormer houses known as The Duke which were around €1.2m are now selling for around €730,000.
Agent Will Coonan of Coonan Real Estate Alliance says: "Of the 110 homes that were built most of them have been bought by owner occupiers and we have only about 10 still for sale."
In the Heritage, Killinard Co Laois, where former Irish international footballer Niall Quinn has a house, one of the nearby houses is currently for sale. Known as Two, on Fairways Two, the house was worth about €3m at the peak and now agents Sherry FitzGerald Hyland are quoting €800,000 -- a drop of 73pc. The four bedroom 450qm detached house stands on over two-thirds of an acre and has a garage.
Recently NAMA has been selling off houses at the Killeen Castle Golf Club near Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, which hosted the Solheim Cup international womens golf version of the Ryder Cup. Most of these houses sold over the last five months at prices of between €275,000 and €320,000.
In 2009 three-bedroom semis and terraced houses in this section of the development, at Loughmore Square, were launched at prices ranging from €475,000 to €845,000 including a family membership for the golf course.
Two terraced houses remain unsold priced from €270,000 and the agents, Sherry FitzGerald, are also selling two much larger five bedroom houses. The Silke, a 700sqm detached house, is now priced at €1.65m and The Plunkett, a 1,064sqm house with its own swimming pool, gymnasium, wine cellar, sauna, steam room, cinema/ entertainment room is priced at €2.25m.
Sherry FitzGerald report that owner occupiers trading down account for about 45pc of sales to date and first time buyers for about a similar portion.
In Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny where Riverdance duo Moya Doherty and John McColgan were among the buyers, the number of owner occupiers is also estimated to have increased. Agents Hooke and MacDonald currently have a house 12 Fox Covert for sale with a €2.5m price tag -- about half of what it was worth at the peak.
Situated on a one-acre site, the house itself extends to 680sqm including a two car garage. Its accommodation includes four reception rooms, six en suite bedrooms and a one bedroom apartment. It was built in 2006 and has views of the 5th and 8th fairways.
Colliers International are now asking €750,000 for 3 The Waltons in Mount Juliet, a 3,300 sq ft house which it is believed would have made €2m at the peak.
The four-bedroom detached house also comes with a garage. These agents are believed to have recently agreed a deal on the sale of a two-bedroom terraced house on The Paddocks section of Mount Juliet for around €320,000. Another agent familiar with the club says that these Paddocks homes would have fetched around €600,000 at the peak.
But it's not all fun and games on the golf course as rugby player Brian O'Driscoll discovered. He and the owners of 32 houses at the Seafield Demesne golf resort in Ballymoney, Co Wexford, had to take legal action to force the management company to restore their water supply after a dispute between the house owners and the company escalated.