FOR any golfers playing in Kinsale’s Farrangalway course, there’s a good chance you’ve come across club professional Ger Broderick.
In fact Ger has been that as long as the course and he celebrated 25 years in Kinsale last week.
Having trained in the UK, Ger was working in Royal Tara when the opportunity came to return home as Kinsale opened their new 18 hole championship course in Farrangalway in 1996.
The affable PGA Pro has been there since, building his reputation over three decades.
He’s seen plenty of change in the club and the course in the last 25 years.
“When I started in 1996 the course was bare, but now the trees have grown and matured,” explained Ger.
“I left Ringenane in 1989 with 150 members and returned seveb years later with 700 members, the first few years were tough finding my feet meeting new members and all the new faces.
"My first shop was a container and this expanded to two containers joined together after a few years, this was known as the pro-shack. In 1999 the club built a wonderful Pro-shop to which I am still in today.”
Ger’s description is a short version of the Farrangalway story. From a windswept elevated site, the club developed a course to be proud of.
Maturing trees helped define the routing but there were also some fundamental changes thanks to a forward-looking group of members.
In addition to the pro-shop, three new holes were built in 2009 along with indoor and outdoor driving bays to add to the member experience. Despite the tough times that golf went through in the last decade, Kinsale has continued to thrive with a strong and loyal membership.
That’s something that has been essential for Ger since starting with the club.
While most PGA trainees stay local now, that wasn’t the case for Ger back in the late ’80s when he had to travel to England to follow his career path. Aged just 17, and playing off an impressive handicap of three, Ger decided to move to Hartfordshire to start his PGA training.
It was a tough apprenticeship at times but Broderick stuck with it and spent two years in England.
“Living in England as an 18-year-old was very hard as I had no experience of cooking, ironing or any other household duties required along with sharing a house with strangers.
"The hardest part was only getting home twice a year to see my family but in hindsight, I think it toughened me up and made me a better person.
"There were times I felt like packing it in and going home. I spent 2 years at Little Hay Golf Club in Hertfordshire before returning to Ireland in 1991 to finish my training in Royal Tara Golf Club, Meath.
"I had great times in Tara as I played both hurling and football for the local clubs and won a few county medals.”
Many may be forgiven for thinking that the likes of John Murphy, Cathal Butler and Gary Ward were the first generation of Kinsale juniors to hit the headlines, but go back 30 years and Ringenane was also nurturing the next generation of golfers.
Along with Ger, Kieran McCarthy, Robert Walsh and John Keating were among the stars of their generation and Ger has fond memories of his own introduction to the game.
“I started playing golf in Ringenane when I was 10, my eldest brother Val was a member and I caddied for him when he was playing with Robbie McCarthy, I really enjoyed it and took the game up soon after when Val bought me a 7 iron and a putter for Christmas.
"I would also play a bit in the dock which was a lovely short course with 7 par threes and 2 par fours.”
Like many other juniors, Ger has many fond memories of Munster and national events.
“I played with Kinsale at all levels and travelled the country playing juvenile tournaments with Kieran McCarthy, Robert Walsh, John Keating Jnr and other juniors from Kinsale.
"Kieran and Robert’s dad would bring us and we would stay in tents on the golf course grounds as we couldn't afford B&B’s.”
Having painted and refurbished the pro-shop in the first lockdown, Ger has spent the last few months outdoors, lending a hard to the hard-working greens staff.
“Our greenkeepers and office staff are still working and I have given a hand developing our new short game area and also sitting on a roughs mower a few hours a day to do my bit, never did I think after 25 years I’d be cutting the grass on the course.
"We will open again on the 26th of April and it will be hell for leather on the course with 300 golfers a day playing at peak times.
"We will start our timesheets at 6-30 every morning until dark 7 days a week, but none of this would be possible if not for my excellent staff, Tim, Bruce and Ian, and of course the love of my life, my wife Caroline and my girls Amy-Sue and Katie-Rose.”
The life of a club pro involves early starts and late nights, and Ger appreciates the support of Caroline and his kids.
“When you marry a club professional, you marry his job.
"I've been so lucky Caroline has supported me over the years and now our girls are of the age where they work in the shop with me it has become a family-run business, they all love working in the shop and we can also play a few holes after work as all three are members of the club.”
Ger has seen the evolution of the club over the last 25 years, including changes to the role of the club pro.
Golf has gone through a boom and a recession in the past 20 years, and the indications are that demand will be high again in 2021.
“I've seen a lot of changes over the years, from committees running clubs to a management structure, also my role has changed, I'm much more involved with recruiting members and trying to retain members, promote green fees and help the club in any way I can, this on top of teaching and running a shop you can see why being a golf pro is not just all about hitting a little white ball."