Cork golf clubs and driving ranges are now back in the swing of things

Cork golf clubs and driving ranges are now back in the swing of things
Adam Harrington, Cork Golf Club, watching his tee shot on the 16th, at Cork Golf Club, Little Island. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

WHILE courses opened in mid-May, it took most golf professionals a few weeks more to restart their businesses.

Almost all PGA professionals are now back in business following the lockdown and many are reporting a strong start to the shortened season.

Cork Golf Centre reopened in May and the Ballincollig centre is now back to offering the full range of services. Wayne O’Callaghan is one of three teaching professionals based in the centre and he is delighted with the large number of golfers coming for lessons or just to hit a few balls.

“Luckily the range is the busiest it has ever been,” said O’Callaghan who has based himself in Cork Golf Centre since it opened in 2017.

Wayne O'Callaghan from Cork Golf Centre says that the range has been very busy since opening last month. Picture: Niall O'Shea
Wayne O'Callaghan from Cork Golf Centre says that the range has been very busy since opening last month. Picture: Niall O'Shea

“We have social distancing in place and again we’re lucky the bays offer at least 3m of space. We have seen a lot of new faces especially young people in their 20s, maybe due to other sports not being played, hitting shots. The centre has had queues for bays every day.

“We also did a big refurb on the range creating greens and more distance markers and restocking all new balls. Over the lockdown I was in contact with all my students providing daily tips for free and also across all social media platforms and have received a tremendous response.”

The spring would normally be Wayne’s busiest time of the year, but he put the downtime to good use.

“I used the lockdown to upskill and undertook educational online certifications in Capto and Science and Motion putting. I’m now only one of two putting coaches in Ireland that has the Level 3 Science and Motion putting coach cert also one of two with the Capto certificate in the country.”

The end of June should see a further lifting of restrictions and Wayne is also looking forward to that.

“I’m waiting on all restrictions to lift to use the indoor centres I have, and I’m currently working with three clubs, Raffeen Creek Ladies Get into Golf programme, Macroom Ladies, and Mahon Golf Club who are now rebuilding their junior section. I will be running the coaching side and encouraging juniors to join.”

Frankfield Golf Range is also open to GUI and ILG members, the facility reopened last month and the large 45 bay range provides an ideal space for socially distance practice. PGA Professional David Whyte started online tips for beginners during the lockdown and now himself and Michael Ryan are back working following the reopening of the range a few weeks ago, they currently have a special offer of €70 for three lessons.

Given Frankfield’s central location, it is sure to be a busy place for the next few months.

Peter O’Keeffe is another full-timer is the golf industry, the 2017 Irish Amateur Open Champion is a full-time golf fitness coach and he has developed a strong online presence. O’Keeffe was an early adopter when it came to his digital presence, he has over 200 instructional videos on YouTube and has an impressive following of more than 2,000 people.

Although O’Keeffe had to move his camera from the gym to his back garden, he continued to post several exercises and tips over the past three months and more recently he has started to provide online Hiit classes which are proving popular with golfers of all levels. The online classes are attracting an international audience with many people outside of Ireland signing up.

PGA Professional David O’Sullivan has spent the past 10 years in Cobh Golf Club and he too has seen a strong restart to the season.

Cobh's PGA Professional David O'Sullivan has seen a huge increase in interest in golf since early May. Picture: Niall O'Shea
Cobh's PGA Professional David O'Sullivan has seen a huge increase in interest in golf since early May. Picture: Niall O'Shea

“We have been very busy at Cobh Golf Club leading up to the return to Golf,” said club professional David O’Sullivan.

“We felt the interest brewing well before the 18th May and together with the management committee, we were able to create and offer a very attractive membership option for 16 months leading up to the end of September 2021.

“The surge in membership has been incredible and shows how the Hawtree design has become an obvious choice for so many. The golf course at Marino point has never been so good and is a credit to the team of greenkeepers and club volunteers. All of our efforts have gone towards facilitating the return to golf for our existing members and welcoming our new members to Cobh.

“Through our men’s and ladies club captains and committees we have been monitoring full compliance for safe return to play and adhering to all requirements in the need of contact tracing. We are delighted to say the overall return to play has been hugely successful and all the signs are there for continued growth through to the end of the season.”

Cobh were victims of the economic cycle 10 years ago, but you would never think it given the progress that has been made since the course opened for play in 2008. The large joining fees were gone, as were the queues of new members as golf numbers nationwide dropped between 2009 and 2015.

However, that did not stop the progress, the members dug deep and supported the club when it most needed it.

The new clubhouse which opened a few years ago marked the final stage of the development of the new home for Cobh, one which is now firmly established in Cork’s golf landscape.

Cobh have a very attractive annual subscription of €880, and they also have a monthly payment option of €77. Earlier this month they launched a new 2020/21 membership package for €1,200. That also breaks down into two easy pay instalments. On joining, €600 is payable and the second €600 is due in January 2021.

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