Golf writer & photographer. Author of ‘Hooked’, the most comprehensive guide to Ireland's golf courses, and ‘Driving the Green’. Published by Collins Press. Editor for Destination Golf Ireland, feature writer for Irish Golfer Magazine freelancer for Irish Examiner. Golf is in the blood. http://www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Ballyneety Golf Club - a Metamorphosis
The par three 2nd at the former Limerick County GC
Not all the Irish golf courses we have lost have gone for good. Two that faded into the night have come back to life: South County is now Lisheen Springs, and Limerick County is now Ballyneety. At the time of their passing I was most disappointed - these were two courses I rated - but there are many courses struggling financially and it was simply a matter of time before the banks and the creditors got their way.
Ballyneety Golf Club has a lot going for it - there's plenty of shape to the landscape, some big, impressive water features, and a routing that offers many thrilling golf shots. I remember the greens being extremely good, too.
Limerick County, designed by Des Smyth, opened in 1994, but ceased trading on January 15th, 2011, owing more than €2.5 million. It had so much going for it - in terms of the quality and excitement of the course - that its failure came as a big shock. A liquidator was then appointed but efforts to sell the course were unsuccessful as an agreement with the Garda Sports and Social Club could not be reached.
Approach to the excellent par four 5th
The land then went through the expected trials and tribulations of being over-run after the course closed - certainly for well over a year. In 2012 there was a ray of light as a number of individuals joined forces and looked at the option of buying the club. Following hugely successful meetings to gauge interest, the course was bought in March 2013, with efforts then being committed to getting the course back into shape.
Given the amount of time that the course was over-run, this was always going to be a challenge, especially as four new greens had to be laid. Greenkeepers worked for five months to save and restore the other greens and the course has been coming back into its own ever since. Members, of which there are now 500, are restricted in their play on the course and access to the clubhouse, but their contribution of €300 in membership fees for 2013 proved vital to making Ballyneety GC a reality.
It is hoped that by next year, Ballyneety Golf Club will be restored to its former glory. For anyone interested in joining the club, the membership fee for 2013 is €300. Fees for 2014 are: