Monday, January 27, 2014

Irish Golf Membership Fees - Eleven Diamonds in the Rough

Connemara Links 16th Hole
At the start of every year many golfers have to sit back and count the cost of Christmas... before considering - or should that be dreading - the cost of the annual sub for the golf club. Around Dublin and the bigger cities, golf clubs have the advantage and can charge subs that hover around the €2,000 mark. Some, of course, are far more expensive... but that's the price of exclusivity and reputation.

And then there are the country courses.

Sure, I know it's not very practical for a Dublin/Cork golfer to be looking at an annual membership for a course in Co. Donegal, Mayo, Galway etc., but consider the fee for just a minute. If you've got the cash for your city course you're doing fine, but if you're struggling consider the alternatives to forking out €300 for a membership at the likes of Slievenamon (so you can keep your GUI card and handicap).

Why not add a bit on and join one of the many exceptional golf links balancing on the ocean's edge. These are in beautiful locations, perfect for holidays, golf breaks with the guys and long family weekends away. And let's be honest, you're more likely to travel to these places than visit an indifferent course which you've used as your Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.
Bundoran Links 13th Hole
So here are 11 of the best annual membership deals* along Ireland's coastline:

1. Dunfanaghy €350

2. Carne, from €360

3. Portsalon €480

4. Narin & Portnoo €486

5. Connemara €500
Views over Narin & Portnoo Links from the road into the village

6. Skellig Bay €500

7. Donegal €515

8. North West €565

9. Bundoran €597

10. Westport €692

11. Strandhill €720 (The higher cost reflects the proximity to Sligo town)

* As you'd expect, a number of clauses need to be added to these deals/fees... but they're not all negative!

1. You may find that fees are lower still if you have been away from the game for two or more years.
2. Others may be negotiated further, certainly the ones at the top end.
3. Some fees only apply for the first year and then increase (e.g. Dunfanaghy is €550 after the introductory year).
4. And finally, you can take advantage of still lower fees if you're a distance/country member (e.g. Strandhill is €470 and Westport is €407)

Value for Money Golf 

I'm sure you're looking at the prices - let's pick €500 at Skellig Bay - and thinking 'well, if I managed to play there 10 times that's still €50 a round.' Fair enough... but here's something else to consider: what is your club's current annual sub and how often do you play there? If you're paying €2,000 do you play 40 times during the year... because that equates to €50 a round.
The 1st hole at Skellig Bay
Please don't think I am advocating that you abandon your club - I am certainly not. I believe that loyalty and club/community spirit are crucial ingredients in the pleasure of golf. I am merely trying to present an alternative if you can't justify that two grand sub and you want more than the likes of Slievenamon can offer.

So, for those golfers who only have four days to go before the annual sub is due, I hope this will give you food for thought. It also gives you the opportunity to enjoy a 'staycation' in some of the most spectacular parts of our country... because golf in Ireland doesn't get more beautiful than this.

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