TOMORROW, Monday 26 April, golf clubs will open all over the country.
It has been a long time coming. There has been much criticism of the government decision to shut golf clubs. The recent disclosure that only 0.1% of Covid cases has been transmitted through outdoor activities has heightened the call to open outdoor activities immediately.
Mick Kirwan, Captain of Carlow Golf Club, is passionate in his belief that courses throughout the country should never have been forced to close.
“There is no reason why it should have been closed at all. There is no justification for people not to be allowed to play golf. You can go up to Oak Park and see the crowds running around. There are so many cars in it, you cannot even get parking. Then you drive down by the golf club and there is not a sinner in acres of grounds,” he reasons.
Carlow is included in the top ten of parkland courses in the country. There are some outstanding holes in the Deerpark course. A downhill putt on the fourth green, no matter how short, is not for the faint hearted. There might be no water or bunkers on the seventh but it is not the men’s index one without good reason. The views from the eighth and the sixteenth tee box are stunning. As for the short seventeenth with the high index, it has ruined many a potentially good card.
Kirwan is looking forward to seeing the members coming back. While things were quiet the club has taken the opportunity to do essential and non-essential maintenance.
“There is a huge amount of work going on the course at the moment. It has given us a huge opportunity to do a lot of jobs such as working on tee-boxes and greens. Now that it is done, it won’t be impacting on players when they come back,” he says
On the other hand, the lock-down has caused financial problems for sport. Carlow Golf Club is no exception.
“Luckily enough over 80% of our membership has been paid already. I have no doubt that when the club opens up the remainder will pay. In fairness, why would you play when you cannot play golf,” says the Carlow captain who is also a member of the well-known Dolmen Golf Society. Societies such as these are always welcome in Carlow.
“We still are trying to balance the books and work on finance. We are looking to see when we will be able to take back societies. Green fees are down. 25-30% of income comes from visiting societies and green fees. That has to be got back somehow and we will have only a few months to do it.”
When golf does resume in Carlow play will be confined to groups of two using the two Deerpark nines and the Oak Park nine. A bit like before the last lock-down.
“It was set up well the last time and I am looking forward to getting back. There will be a huge demand. It will be non-competitive for a few weeks at least,” predicted Kirwan who stated the club also hopes to open the restaurant facilities.
“We have great outdoor facilities for dining. We are going to utilise that the best we can.”
By Kieran Murphy