Friday 26 April 2019

Clubs working hard to stay out of the recession bunker

Liam Kelly

GOLF clubs around the country are fighting back against the recession by offering great-value deals for new members. The bad old days of huge joining fees are fast disappearing as clubs react to the country's changing financial circumstances.

It seems that those who take the initiative have the best chance of adding to their cash flow.

And despite the negativity about the downturn, there is still a market for members, as the Druids Glen management discovered when they opened up Druids Heath to a membership offering. They got the 300 they wanted and received many more applications.

The key to it all is the price of the membership. People still want to play the game as members of clubs if they can afford it. And that's something that Leinster clubs are working hard at, as is evident by the offerings from Arklow, Baltinglass, and Seapoint.

Arklow's fine links is undergoing completion of the latest phase of a €500,000 upgrade and the fruits of that labour will be available for play in May.

The Wicklow club is open for full membership for €1,500 with no joining fee. That is a competitive price for a county with some of the finest golfing venues in the country.

Arklow's improvements include the re-building of two par-3 holes -- the 11th and 13th. Ongoing bunker revetting and an overhaul of green complexes is also a feature of the modern look of the course.

Eddie Connaughton is the project designer and the club have continued to improve the course over the past nine years.

Parkland value in Wicklow is available at Baltinglass, who have a range of packages available. Annual membership costs €750 with no joining fee; 10-year membership can be obtained for €7,500 and a five-year package costs €3,750. The offer is available for a limited period only.

Seapoint slightly bucks the trend by requiring an entrance fee of €3,500 plus annual sub for new five-day members. That's a brave move in the current climate and reflects the committee's confidence in their course and facilities.

Designed by Des Smyth and Declan Brannigan, Seapoint is a challenging layout and is always well worth a visit. Seapoint officials are bullish about their club and the new deal.

Peter Jordan, chairman of the club's Joint Committee said: "We are inviting golfers in the greater Dublin area to consider joining our club as a five-day member for an annual subscription fee of €600.

"We have a small entry fee of €3,500 and the five-day member will be entitled to play our great course Monday to Friday any time of the year. If you play the course 12 times a year you are actually saving money, as our mid-week green fees are currently €60.

"This is a limited offer and applications must be submitted before March 31."

Club captain Andy McGuire and lady captain Breda Moore said that, like all golf clubs, Seapoint was keeping a close eye on costs and tackling the recession by offering value for money for members and visitors.

McGuire added: "We are working hard to stay out of the recession bunker. The challenge for us is to attract more business and keep the annual subscriptions within reach of the members.

"By offering value for money, we can keep our members, grow the club and continue to enjoy one of the best courses in the country.

"During the year we will also be offering a range of packages for societies and tourists and we are adamant that we will not be putting a surcharge on our green fee charges during the week of the Irish Open, which takes place at Baltray, our neighbours.

"And we are urging hotels, restaurants and bars in the area to keep the prices down," he said.

Doonbeg goes 'live' to US for St Patrick's Day show

DOONBEG in West Clare goes 'live' to the USA on St Patrick's Day when well-known American radio presenter Michael Patrick Shiels presents his award-winning 'MPS In The Morning' show in a special broadcast.

The syndicated talk radio show goes out on radio stations in the Michigan area. It can also be heard online at www.MichiganTalkNetwork.com.

Shiels, who has been in Doonbeg a number of times, most notably as a member of the US team that played in the Doonbeg Writers Cup, takes great pride in his Irish ancestry.

The broadcaster, author and travel writer has a love of all things Irish and the show on St Patrick's Day will feature interviews, Irish music, heritage, customs and, as he says, a little bit of politics.

As part of the programme, Shiels will be interviewing a wide variety of people from the west Clare area, including many who have been heavily involved in setting up Doonbeg Golf Club.

The 'MPS In the Morning' programme will air live from 9.30am to 1pm (Irish time).

Shiels will also file daily radio reports all week from Dingle, Tralee, Lahinch and Connemara.

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