THIS summer marked an important anniversary for PGA Professional David O’Sullivan, he celebrated 10 years as the Club Professional in Cobh Golf Club.
The Ballincollig native has been in the PGA ranks for over 20 years and has made Cobh his home since 2010.
While golf itself has gone through a strange decade, and especially a strange 2020, David was delighted to celebrate a decade at the Marino Point club.
“Ten years on and the old saying is true, time flies when you’re having fun. From my early days, it was very clear that the members were welcoming and proud of their golf club and that is still very much the vibe at Marino Point.
"Cobh Golf Club is on a journey of progression and since I started in 2010 this has been our shared journey. It became ‘home’ and a decade on, I still very much feel that sense of belonging.”
Although you mightn’t think it, David is now in his third decade as a golf pro.
He trained in Bandon under Paddy O’Boyle and having secured his PGA Professional accreditation in 1998 he spent a year in Lee Valley.
From there he moved up to Dublin to St Margaret’s until the opportunity to come back to Cork arose.
That opportunity was in Blarney Golf Resort in 2005 which at that stage was just breaking ground.
As Director of Golf in Blarney, David had several new responsibilities as the John Daly designed course was developed, overseeing the development of the course and the clubhouse at the impressive project.
Next up for David was another stint back in Lee Valley as a teaching professional before the move to Cobh.
O’Sullivan may not have realised that his next move would be long-term, and in August 2010 he took up the role as Club Professional at Cobh’s new Marino Point championship course.
David has seen the Cobh development from the inside over the past ten years, he’s even moved his proshop three times.
From his starting point in a humble portacabin in 2010, David moved to a larger area in the new clubhouse, and from there it was across the car park to a custom built pro-shop in 2016.
While the off-course developments in Cobh have been an important part of the success of Marino, the course itself is showpiece. An elevated piece of land with extensive views of the harbour, the setting provided renowned designer Martin Hawtree.
“The Hawtree golf course is approaching its 12th year and is really proving to be a favourite for so many,” said David.
“I have always remarked on the strength of our location for attracting members and visitors and of course the staggering views are a real plus.
"Our many returning visitors continue to be impressed by the ever-maturing golf course and expanding facilities.”
O’Sullivan isn’t wrong, the foresight of the development committees and the members have resulted in a great test of golf at Marino.
The club was one of the first to have USGA specification putting surfaces, and the large greens were designed to force golfers to think about approach shots.
Changes in elevation are a key feature of the course, but the clever routing of the holes means that there are very few steep hills to navigate.
The fact that almost no changes took place to the course in the past 12 years underline the strength of the original course design.
In 2017 David invested the teaching side of the business, he built a new swing room to cater for custom fitting and teaching.
He also added a Trackman to bring another level of detail for members and students. Along will a well stocked pro-shop David has ensured that members and guests receive a top-class experience from the Pro Shop.
2020 brought lots of ups and downs for everyone involved in golf. A two-month closure in the first half of the year was followed by one of the busiest summer’s on record and David was in the middle of a very strange year.
“March 2020 brought with it a lockdown for many. This was the first time in 25 years I was away from a golf course for longer than one week.
" The family time was a real bonus and I also used the opportunity to recharge the batteries and catch up on administrative work. I had some fun too recording online video tutorials to keep in touch with our members.
"Once the club re-opened in May, it became clear that participaton was going to be at a record level. Golf was proving to be one of the safest sports to be engaged in at this time!
" This had a huge impact on both membership numbers and green fee revenue. There was also a new appreciation for what golf could offer.”
Given the success of the safe re-opening of golf courses in May, few would have thought that the courses would be closed again in a second lock-down.
Despite plenty of evidence of the safe and socially distanced nature of recreational golf, the curtailing of non-essential travel meant that courses were again closed in late October.
Although it was an unexpected break, David is working hard to have everything in place for members and guests when the course opens next month.
“Currently, I’m preparing for our second re-opening on December 1st and doing a lot of pre-booking for next season.
" For December we’re hoping for good Christmas trade and we’re looking forward to a healthy Christmas golfing schedule.”