EXCITEMENT is building among golfers as the sport gets ready to re-open next Monday.
And that’s especially true in East Cork where the members and everyone involved are looking forward to hitting the fairways.
Since the beginning of March, the club and the owners have worked together to get through the current crisis.
Initially, it was social distancing, then it was temporary closure, and more recently it has all been about the re-opening of the course.
East Cork owner Clare Moloney has been driving the plans, and she too is happy to see the course re-open.
“Fortunately, the greens staff fall under the category of essential workers, and our greenkeepers have been working tirelessly to make sure the course is in top condition when some of our members can return on May 18.
“In the interest of health and safety, a rota was introduced for our greenkeepers to work on alternating days to mitigate the chance of infection,” explained Clare.
“We cannot thank our members enough for their continuous support during this time.
“Many members have paid their annual membership fee despite this being a time of economic uncertainty for all of us.
“This is a testament to the ethos of the members of East Cork Golf Club. We can always count on them to have our back when times are tough.”
Golf is one of the few sports where there’s a very high fixed cost even when there’s no play.
Courses need a team of greenkeepers to maintain the course. And it’s not only the labour cost that needs to be factored in.
Most work requires expensive machinery, meaning there are capital and maintenance costs as well as fuel.
Beyond that, golf courses require many inputs like fertiliser, seed, sand, and water which adds another layer of expense for owners.
Those costs led to some speculation that many courses would struggle to generate enough income to survive the crisis.
While green fees and competitions are not included in the first phase for golf, it does mean that members can play and get value from their annual subscriptions.
Moloney is aware of the financial commitment from members and she is planning to look after the loyal East Cork members.
“My focus now is to make sure that they receive full value for their fee. To do this I am looking into modifying their annual subs when the golfing year finally gets under way.
“I see this as the only fair solution as very little golf has been played this year. It has been disappointing to see some speculation about our course on social media over the past few days - East Cork Golf Club is reopening on Monday.
“There is no truth to speculation that this may not be the case and we are looking forward to welcoming back our members.”
Club captains Mick Dorgan and Ruth Evans have been led the liaisons between members and the owners and they are looking forward to getting on with the golfing year.
“The closure of the course for such an unexpected and extended period has had a severe impact on the running of the club,” explained the captain.
“The loss of club competitions has reduced our major income stream and the social distancing restrictions has made it a challenge for the various committees to communicate and keep the club ticking over.
“We have fantastic and resourceful people on our committees and they were able to find various ways to overcome these difficulties, so we are currently in a very healthy position to reopen the club on Monday next.
“From listening to members, they cannot wait to get back playing, and even though many members don’t live within 5K of the course, the first step of the process, beginning on May 18 marks the first positive step towards life as we knew it, returning to normal.
“The green staff John O’Keeffe and John Andrews, under Clare’s guidance, have the course in magnificent condition.
“People are looking forward to the easing of current restrictions and everything getting back to normal. For our members this, of course, means getting back out on the golf course hitting golf balls.”
East Cork is more than just a business for the Moloney family. The course was founded in 1969 when Eamonn and Peg Moloney built a nine-hole course on their dairy farm.
It’s very much a family business, Eamonn’s son Maurice and his wife Clare took over the running of the course and drove a number of course developments and improvements that ensured it remained one of the most popular courses in east Cork.
Clare now leads the family team that runs the business and she’s very proud of the Moloney legacy in East Cork.
“I have had the pleasure of calling East Cork Golf Club my home for the past 30 years; a business that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019.
“Throughout this time, we have faced many challenges. From recessions to course redevelopments, to the loss of my husband Maurice, who many know was the heart and soul of East Cork Golf Club.
“Today, we face yet another challenge. When the restrictions due to Covid-19 came into place in early March, we closed the clubhouse bar and catering facilities to comply with government guidelines.
“This has resulted in a temporary loss of employment for some of our staff.”
Although the clubhouse won’t re-open for another few weeks, Monday’s first stage will be welcomed by everyone as the start of that journey.