A FEW weeks ago, the sun was beating down from blue skies over Fermoy Golf Club, and the greens and fairways on the slopes of Corrin Hill looked immaculate.
The only thing missing from an otherwise idyllic scene was golfers...
That all changes today, as golf courses all over the country re-open for members — although society and casual green fee golfers will have to wait until further easing of Covid-19 restrictions at a later date.
Fermoy Golf Club Secretary Manager Denis Twomey says the club are allowing members out in two-ball and four-ball combinations from up to two households, and he is hopeful that the long summer evenings will help to accommodate all members.
Staff in Fermoy have not been idle during lockdown, and the course has seen extensive work, while the clubhouse has been repainted inside and out, and a large paved patio has been added for outdoor dining.
Twomey says course staff have done a tremendous job during the lockdown, taking on a lot of refurbishment and housekeeping jobs, as well as an extensive sanding programme to improve drainage on fairways.
“The biggest thing we did was to remove almost all of the damaged tree-stumps from the course, and we’ve planted close to 2,000 new trees and shrubs.
“We have spent close to €50,000 on the outdoor dining area, and we’ve done that with an eye on Covid safety when outdoor dining does return.”
Fermoy is open for membership, he says, with the annual subscription €774 including all levies and Golf Ireland affiliation, and the club doesn’t charge ‘hello money’.
Staff in Monkstown Golf Club were also busy during lockdown, carrying out a substantial amount of refurbishment work on the course.
“It’s been great to be able to keep our staff in work,” Monkstown manager Maurice O’Meara says.
“We got a huge amount of work done, which we mightn’t otherwise have got around to had we been open.
“We’ve also refurbished our pro shop, and we’ve installed a state-of-the-art Trackman Teaching Studio, one of very few simulation rooms in the country.”
Monkstown is open for membership, and the annual subscription is €1,446, with an entrance fee of €4,000.
Cobh Golf Club is owned by its members, and is open for new members. Club professional David O’Sullivan says they are expecting a lot of interest in golf as the country emerges from lockdown.
“There was a massive surge in interest last year, and we’re hoping that will be repeated this time around, with a lot of excitement and a lot of play.
“We have a strong membership, with 500 full members, and an annual subscription of €880, and no ‘hello money’.”
In Cork Golf Club manager Hurley says the club’s top priority is safety, and after that getting as many members as possible out onto the course.
“We’re getting excited about reopening, and we can finally take down the Christmas tree!” he said.
Although Cork Golf Club is accepting applications, it currently has full membership.
Across in Douglas Golf Club, General Manager John McHenry says the priority is getting as many members as possible safely out, and safely home.
With that in mind, rounds will be restricted to nine holes, with two, three, and four-balls from up to two households allowed.
“Douglas is in the lucky position of being over-subscribed, and if last year is anything to go by, the demand for golf will only increase when we exit lockdown.”
Mahon Golf Club similarly has a waiting list, and although it is a public course, with green fees not being available until Golf Ireland guidelines allow them, for the moment it is open to members only.
Peter Mooney, Mahon’s manager, says the course will allow two-balls out every eight minutes, and suspects that the time-sheet will fill rapidly.
“Golf is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it’s perfect for these times, and it’s something that’s of real benefit to mental as well as physical health.”
Fota Island Golf Club is in the fortunate position of having 27 holes to play, says general manager John O’Flynn, and the intention is to put them all to use.
“We’re delighted to be able to re-open, and we’re really looking forward to getting members back on to our wonderful course, and as long the daylight is there the course will be available to our members.”
O’Flynn says Fota has carried out extensive course work during lockdown, and he thinks members will appreciate what he says is a general improvement.
Fota is open for membership, with a joining fee of €8,000, and an annual subscription of €2,013.
After what has been a long and uncertain lockdown, all clubs agree on one thing: it will be good to be back.
“While we have done a lot of work, it’s been a lonely spot up here for the last few months,” says Denis Twomey of Fermoy.
“We’ve missed our members, and we’ve missed the sense of community and camaraderie which comes from being a member of a club.
“Opening up the course and getting out for a round of golf will be a big step forward and hopefully the first step toward some sort of normality.”