Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ballyneety GC - The Tale of Two Years

The 1st hole as it was in July 2012... and then in July 2013.
Last year, Ballyneety Golf Club rose from the ashes of Limerick County Golf Club. The latter had closed in 2010, the course left to the vagaries of nature. In 2012, the course was bought by three men and the resurrection began. The name changed but that was, by far, the easiest step they had to take. Getting the course back to its former glory was a monumental task.

"Back in 2012, I drove my car down the 1st fairway and stopped," said Donal McSweeney, PGA professional and one of the aforementioned three men. "The grass was so high that I couldn't open the door of the car."

The work began, thanks to former members who came back to the club and volunteered their time. They even took silage off the land, the bales sitting forlornly in the middle of fairways for a couple of weeks. The club sought out finance and the long process began. It is continuing today but you can see from the photographs just what has been achieved. Yes, it's still patchy in places, around the bunkers especially, but that's hardly surprising. The greens on the other hand are looking superb.

The 18th hole as it was in July 2012... and as it looks today.
"We're looking to get it back to its best for early 2015," Donal told me.

When Limerick County closed I was disappointed. It's the most fun golf course in the area, full of shape and colour. It's also a great driver's course. Stand on the tee and you want to let rip. My tour yesterday hasn't changed those opinions and I look forward to next year.

As for the volunteers - 60 of them still come once a week to work on the course... raking bunkers, power-hosing paths, painting, planting and anything else that allows the green keeping staff to focus on the essential items. It's created a great community spirit as the volunteers all congregate in the bar after the week's work is done. Golf clubs around Ireland could learn from that - after all, it's the members who are the heart and soul of any club.

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