SWING finds winning formula for tourism
From an original line-up of five, SWING could boast connections with no fewer than 13 clubs when they celebrated 30 years of growth at a special gathering in Ballybunion on Friday.
The occasion was marked by a team event involving 60 participants from these progressive facilities.
In 1987, Denis Brosnan brought representatives of Tralee, Killarney, Waterville Lahinch and Ballybunion together in the belief that co-operation could do for golf tourism what it had achieved in his Kerry Group. A measure of the venture's success is that annual green-fee revenue of £26,000 for Tralee GC in 1987, for instance, has now grown to €1.7m.
"Growth was dramatic," said Brendan Keogh, who succeeded Paddy O'Looney as CEO of SWING. "For instance, from 800 green-fee rounds in its first year of operation, SWING were doing 23,000 rounds by 1996, within our own region."
Expansion became inevitable. Three further clubs, Dooks, Dingle and Dromoland Castle, joined the original five and, more recently, they have been further boosted by associate members Old Head Links, Doonbeg, Adare, Gork GC and Ring of Kerry, making 13 in all. And co-operation is set to deliver another handsome dividend with the area embarking on a new tourist season.
With its new, fescue greens and re-shaped 18th hole, Ballybunion was suitably resplendent for this, the club's 125th anniversary celebrations. And local rivals were strongly represented in Friday's winning team, involving the current captain of Lahinch and the presidents of Tralee and Killarney.
Result: 90pts K O'Keeffe (6) Lahinch, B Daly (10) Ballybunion, N Timlin (15) Tralee, J Buckley (19) Killarney.
Sunday Indo Sport