CASTLEMARTY LINKS has seen a few changes over the last six months; in addition to work done on the course, they’ve also opened a driving range and appointed PGA professional Alan Gleeson as Golf Operations Manager.
Gleeson joined Castlemartyr over nine years ago as a trainee PGA professional and in that time he has become familiar with everything to do with the course and the club.
While he has plenty of experience in the resort, the new role means Gleeson oversees all golfing activities in the five-star resort and he’s delighted with the new job.
“It’s great. It’s challenging but it’s very rewarding,” Gleeson said.
“I’m very pleased to be working with all of the members and with the senior management team and the new owners.
It’s all very positive, and there’s lots of investment going into the resort and the course has seen the benefits already.”
The new job means that Gleeson has taken on added areas and he was delighted to get involved with members, staff and management.
“Primarily it’s the membership, administering the membership, and working with the club committees and the liaison committee. I’m essentially the bridge between the membership and the resort.“
The resort changed hands last year when a Singapore-based Styanley Queck and Peng Loh, who also own the Sheen Falls in Kenmare, took control.
The pair committed to refurbishing and upgrading many areas of the resort, and the inland links styled golf course also benefitted.
At the end of May a new driving range opened. The range measures over 300 yards and it provides members and guests with an ideal place to warm up before a round or to practice.
The range has been a huge hit since it opened and it’s been a busy place.
It’s very busy already, we’re not even open a month and it’s already beyond the projections of how busy we thought it would be. It’s also very busy with lessons for members and resort guests, it has really taken off.”
On the course, work has also been progressing, although this has tapered off to ensure that golfers have priority during the busy summer months. One of the downsides of being very busy is that the traffic has taken its toll on the course.
The fairways have suffered from some compaction, and especially in the winter the course has gotten progressively wetter over the past five years.
But the problem has been noted and work to rectify it has already started.
“We have identified a problem with drainage when we come into the winter so we have big plans to address that in September and that will be part of an ongoing three-year plan.
“We completed the first stage in April when we put out over 2,000 tons of sand and aerated the fairways.
“We’ll do that again in September and it’s in the plans for the next three years to continue that work, so I would foresee it as being a very dry course within two to three years.
“With 4,000 tons of sand going out each year, after three years we’ll have a two and a half inch cap of sand on the fairways.
“We’re also going to continue with the renovation of the bunkers, we’ve identified 10 greenside bunkers that will be renovated over the next few months.”
The work on the bunkers started earlier this year and that is another element of the programme that ensures the course continues to be playable and presentable.
Similarly, the gorse, which was a key design feature when Ron Kirby oversaw the building stage, is being managed as part of an ongoing programme.
This is to ensure it continues to provide a challenge for golfers while not taking over the course.
The busy day job means that Gleeson’s opportunities to play are limited and while he might have hoped to play on the pro-am schedule, he’s happy to keep it local for the moment.
“I’d like to play a bit on the PGA Irish region, but at the moment I’m limited to a few nine-hole rounds every week.
“I try to get out and play with members most weeks, and it’s great to get out with the captain and members as I get to pick their brains on how the course is playing.”
Gleeson and the team in Castlemartyr are now building towards a number of important dates, including the Captain’s Prize and their annual Scratch Cup weekend which will be held as usual on the August Bank Holiday Weekend.
That weekend has always been a sell-out and the course it set to be in top condition for the three competitions.
The golf club, which now boasts well over 500 members, covers ladies, gents, and junior golf sections and membership options are still available, but there is limited availability.
While resort guests have access to the signature Ron Kirby course, members have exclusive accesses to the course for weekend competitions and during weekdays, making it a very attractive option for anyone looking to join a club and get a handicap index.