MAHON golf course will not be sold off by Cork City Council to a private operator despite concerns over a plummeting, ageing membership, the course’s condition and spiralling operating costs.
Councillors had expressed concerns that City Hall was considering a possible sale of the course following a report to the Council’s environment and recreation committee.
The report shows that income accrued from season tickets at the course have dropped from €305,000 in 2011 to €249,000 in 2018.
Green fees have also fallen in the same period from €185,000 to €108,000. Operating costs at the course have been reduced from €649,000 to €595,000 but the subsidies paid by Cork City Council it open have increased from €159,000 in 2011 to €238,000 last year.
Course management has also had to deal with reductions in members and an ageing member profile. The report states that a significant number of members qualify for pension age membership, further hitting income.
Both City Council and course management have undertaken initiatives in schools to attract younger members.
Despite this, the director of environment and recreation services in City Hall, Valerie O’Sullivan, said the course will not be sold off.
“There are absolutely no plans or talks about it not continuing as a municipal golf course. The trick is to get it running properly while remaining a municipal golf course and that is the process that we will start,” she said.
Carr Golf Management was appointed to undertake an assessment of the course and found that parts of the course were in an unsatisfactory condition and below industry norms. More flexible staffing levels at summer time were recommended.
Councillor Sean Martin (FF) said a three-year plan for the facility is needed.
“The report clearly shows where the shortcomings are and what we need to do going forward,” he said.
“A lot of golf courses went to the wall during the recession but I know local people that play [at Mahon] and they are quite happy with it.
“But we need to bite the bullet and make a three-year plan on how we are going to maintain this golf course going forward and look at what financing is available locally or nationally.
“We need much more flexibility on how we work on the golf course, he added.
Ms O’Sullivan said a review of other municipal golf courses and their operation will be carried out with the results being reported back to the environmental committee in the coming months.