Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Storms Give Irish Golf A Battering

Adare team lost on the course
The storms of last week have been brutal on Irish golf courses. A few minutes trawling Boards, Facebook and Twitter reveals a litany of disasters that will blight our golf courses for years if not decades to come. Many of the trees were hundreds of years old.

Most striking are the 300 trees up-ended at Limerick Golf Club and over 350 toppled at both Dundrum and Kilkenny golf clubs – many were signature trees on the clubs' densely tree-lined fairways. 

The positive news is that no one has died on a course. A tragedy like the one that befell greenkeeper, Douglas Johnstone at Hinckley Golf Club, at the start of 2014, would be catastrophic.

The conveyor belt of storms that has swept across the Atlantic appears to be at an end, but the damage was not confined to last week alone. Links courses have been taking a pounding since Christmas. Can anyone forget that photograph of the waves crashing over the Lahinch seafront? A million euro’s worth of damage has been caused on the coastline above which sits Donald Trump’s new purchase - Doonbeg… welcome to Ireland, Mr. Trump!

The 9th at East Clare. The hole doglegs right around the water and
the tree... now gone.
Another of the most depressing scenes must be at Mulranny, in Co. Mayo. Rocks and sea now populate several sections of the course and the club is organising a campaign asking golf clubs around the country to help raise funds.

Here are some of the courses affected – it is by no means a definitive list.
  1. Adare, Co. Limerick - trees down around the estate, most notably on holes 13 and 17 where they have fallen near greens.
  2. Ardglass, Co. Down - click the link to read Paul Kelly's blog about the sea's damage to the course.
  3. Borris, Co. Carlow – over 40 trees down.
  4. Bunclody, Co. Wexford – 20-25 trees down around the estate. The charming driveway in has several trees down and the roof of the practice range has been torn off.
    The roof ripped off the Driving Range at Bunclody
  5. Dundrum House, Co. Tipperary - over 350 trees down. Much work over the weekend by staff and volunteers has opened up most of the course, but one of the bridges over the River Multeen has been badly damaged.
  6. East Clare, Co. Clare – 18 trees down, the most significant of which is the signature tree on the dogleg of the Index 1 9th hole.
  7. Fermoy, Co. Cork – 270 trees down.
  8. Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny – 353 trees down. The estimated damage is €200,000.
  9. Killarney, Co. Kerry – 196 trees down across the two courses. It took six days before just one of the courses (O'Mahony's Point) could be re-opened.
  10. Limerick, Co. Limerick – 300 trees down. The character they gave the course won’t be recreated for years. Here's an aerial video of what it looked like in the days after the storm.
    Erosion at Rosses Point. This is alongside the 16th
  11. Mulranny, Co. Mayo – sea and rock now populate fairways and a lot of work will be required to return it to its past glories. This uses to be an 18 hole course, but the sea clawed back 9 of them some time ago. Here's an excellent article about the course and devastation by Brian Keogh.
  12. Narin & Portnoo, Co. Donegal - a chunk of the spectacular 15th fairway which runs above the beach has been eaten away - quite literally as if something has taken a bite.
  13. Rosses Point, Co. Sligo – has had a few heavy hits, with some big chunks of dunes swept away. The course remains OK, but it’s not difficult to see what’s coming down the line!
  14. Waterford Castle, Co. Waterford – over 60 trees down across this idyllic island course. 

Photo from Enniscorthy Golf Club
Others that were closed because of fallen trees include Newcastle West, Macroom, Gowran Park, Monkstown, Enniscorthy and Shannon. Even Delgany in Co. Wicklow had to be closed as one of their big trees fell across the driveway. In other places, trees caused widespread disruption but not to the course, e.g. Dromoland Castle.

If you or your society are planning your calendar of events, why not include one of the courses affected and give them your green fees. You’ll be supporting Irish golf, obviously enough, and helping these clubs overcome the financial burdens that nature has inflicted on them.

Mulranny Golf Club... as it should look. Now's your
chance to help it recover.
And if you want to help in the ‘Save Mulranny’ campaign – and see the photographs – visit their website, here

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