FERMOY Golf Club, like every other sports club in the country, is currently closed but that hasn’t stopped the club’s work for the season.
Although there are no golfers on the Fermoy fairways at the moment, the course team are continuing to work hard to finish several course projects.
The recent fine weather would normally signal a great start to the season but this year at least it has allowed greenkeepers to complete off-season work in good conditions.
Fermoy has seen its fair share of challenges. Like all clubs it suffered a downturn in membership during the recession, and the course has also had its issues.
The course suffered greatly in the storms over the past six years, losing thousands of trees in the high winds.
The falling trees caused damage to the course along with changing the look and feel of the course from their sudden disappearance.
Since 2013, the club committees, along with the staff, have worked hard not only to repair damage and replace trees, but also to improve the course for members and guests alike.
Fermoy has hosted several Munster Golf and ILGU events and while its location is ideal for Munster events, the course is a fine challenge for Strokeplay and matchplay competitions.
During the current lockdown, Fermoy’s three greenkeepers, along with Secretary/Manager Denis Twomey, are now working a four day week, and the task list is being ticked off step by step.
Denis Twomey has been the Manager in Fermoy for several years and he has seen several challenges in his time.
The current temporary closure is another challenge for the club.
“Basically, our initial task was to get the essential work completed; cutting greens, aprons, fairways, rough.
“Also we had a lot of projects going on in preparation for the Munster finals of the Bruen & Purcell in July.
“We have put in a number of flower beds around the course and planted hundreds of new trees and shrubs (we lost close on 2,000 trees in the two storms since 2013).
“New seating was also added and fortunately most of this work is close enough to being finished.
“All that is required is to put the finishing touch to a few jobs as soon as we have all the ground staff back full time.”
In addition to that work, temporary winter greens were rotovated and reseeded to return them to fairway/rough, old tree stumps were removed and the areas reseeded, and there’s now a new cement base at the practice nets.
While cutting and feeding the course is a daily priority, this is now made easier by the removal of pins, tee makers and course signage.
This means that clubs can now focus on other tasks that sometimes linger on the to-do list.
Irrigation maintenance and improvement is always on the agenda for greenkeepers, as are repairs to pathways and high traffic areas.
Much of this work is essential but the opportunity to close holes to facilitate it is limited meaning that quick fixes are normally the way of dealing with it.
Not having golfers on the course, or strict deadlines for reopening holes, means that this work can now be carried out in a comprehensive manner.
Machinery management and maintenance is also a regular on the greenkeepers to-do list and this is another area that can receive attention in the current closure.
The GUI and ILGU have issued guidelines from the HSE and R&A in relation to how work should be undertaken.
There’s a strict focus on safety and social distancing and there are also guidelines on the use of machinery where one worker per machine is recommended.
Funding and cash flow for golf clubs has been a major worry over the past two months.
While most clubs will have their member subscriptions banked at this stage, the variable income from green fees, competitions and societies has all stopped.
The additional income streams are essential for all clubs, especially with the costs continuing in terms of staff costs, inputs and utilities.
Fermoy came up with a great idea of a confined members draw to raise funds. Members were asked to join the €100 draw and the hope was that the club could get 100 members to support it.
The response was great and the initial target was passed with ease and in total the club raised €14,000 thanks to the members.
The winners from the first draw were Ned O’Flynn, Noel and Carmel Crowley and Aine O’Grady.
The draw was a great boost for the club and Twomey has his eyes firmly set on the reopening of the course and an important date for the club in July.
“We had a lot of projects going on in preparation for the Munster finals of the Bruen & Purcell in July.
“At the moment there is a lot of uncertainty in regards to all inter-club competitions so we will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Fermoy, like all other clubs, will be hoping that the current ban on golf will be lifted early next month.
A return to the most previous form which allowed casual golf for members would be a welcome start.
Social distancing is easily achieved on a golf course, and clubhouses and locker rooms can remain closed.
Clubs, however, will have a keen eye on the return of competitions as a way of generating income and a return to normality.