IT’S three years since Cork Golf Centre opened and while nobody could have expected all forms of golf to be suspended, it’s still an important milestone for the progressive range.
Having operated as a range for close to 20 years, the site re-opened in 2017 under David Keating. David Keating is one of golf’s gentlemen.
The PGA Professional has had an interesting and varied 27 years working in golf, working in Cork, Kerry, Dublin and back in Cork again where he based himself in the Ballincollig range.
The Charleville man started off serving his time in Bandon with Paddy O’Boyle and ended up as Club Professional at his home course in Charleville.
After that, he spent 10 years in Killarney as Head Professional and three years ago he moved into teaching full time, splitting his time between Cork Golf Centre and the Spawell Academy in Dublin.
From a standing start in 2017, the centre in Ballincollig has become a firm favourite with Cork golfers. Cork Golf Centre, along with Frankfield are the only two dedicated ranges in Cork and both popular spots with golfers.
From the casual golfer who wants to hit a bucket of balls to the serious amateur who aim is a lower handicap, the centre is accessible to all.
Recently the centre expanded the putting analysis and tuition area with the fitting out of a dedicated putting room.
The room features advanced putting greens in addition to state of the art putting analysis systems and software.
The new putting room is ideally suited to custom fitting putters and backs up the existing club fitting options that are available.
“There has been great progress since it opened in 2017.
“We have three PGA Professionals teaching there, Wayne O’ Callaghan, Liam Burns & myself,” said Keating.
“Since the opening three years ago, the site now has top quality mats and balls, two dedicated teaching rooms and all of the top technology.
“We use 3D units, Boditrak and Capto putting and we also have two Trackman rooms at the Centre.”
While all forms of golf are currently suspended, David still has the long term success of the range at the front of his mind.
“The long-term goals are to grow the number of golfers by encouraging them to try the game at the Centre.
“Golf Clubs can be intimidating places for new entrants and we believe that we can become another pathway to get a complete beginner to build up their skills and join a club in a short space of time.
“Junior coaching and ladies coaching will play a big part, but we are also looking at the elite amateurs with the technology we have on site.
“If you are in the area be sure to call in and 'hit' a few balls as our prices start at €2.”
It isn’t all golf for Keating as he’s also known to be a huge Cork hurling fan. Using his teaching and customer fitting knowledge he ended up mixing golf with hurling.
His interest in the sport has led him to use his Trackman to analyse hurling shots.
“Hurlers play instinctively but I firmly believe that from dead ball situations Trackman and high-speed cameras used by PGA coaches can hugely benefit hurlers,” explained David.
“This is particularly true for inter-county players who have extremely high skill levels.
“Most of the teams are now so even that dead-ball performance will become even more important.
“Most teams have one standout free-taker and sideline cut specialist but a great team should have back up.
“Mark Coleman and Joe Canning have the best technique for sideline cuts. Patrick Horgan is a brilliant free-taker but I can’t get my head around Cork’s penalty and 21-yard free-taking in recent years.
“Our greatest ever player from this range doesn’t take these shots due to a rule change. If Anthony Nash adjusted his technique to suit the new rule he could be even better than he was before.”
That rule change hampered Cork more than anyone else - Nash has more ball speed than any hurler alive and we need to immediately reinstate him for these close-range frees.
Now that David is spending more time in Cork he’s enjoying more access to Cork hurling.
“One of the big pluses for me is that I am now able to attend plenty of club matches and Cork training sessions, I had been limited to inter-county matches only for the last decade.
“We have come a long way from the dark strike-ridden days and I believe that Liam MacCarthy will return to Leeside over the next 2-3 years.
“However a ruthlessness will have to be applied for this to happen. We have plenty of talent coming through but until I see Cork players rising into the sky collecting the ball like Tommy Walsh did for years for Kilkenny we will continue to come up short.
“'Excuse-me' hurling won’t bring back Liam MacCarthy.
“I read a piece last year where former Dublin hurling manager Mattie Kenny hammers the back of his hand with a hurley to show his players what type of punishment a hurler has to take to win a ball in the air.
“He said he wouldn’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. I like that motto and have no doubt that we will dominate very soon if we follow Mattie’s lead.”