WORK has begun in at attempt to restore the golf course in Ballyneety to its former glory, with greenkeepers working on the course for the last month.
The course closed in early 2011 after the company behind it went into liquidation, yet could re-open by April 2013 if a plan, put together by former members, comes to fruition.
A huge drive from former members and captains of the club once known as Limerick County, aims to see the club re-opened as a members’ club, and work has already started on restoring the course, which incorporates over 185 acres of land in Ballyneety.
Greenkeepers have been out cutting fairways and rough sections of the course for more than a month and have “seriously started the process” of returning the course to its former glory, according to those driving it.
Several hundred prospective members have given a commitment to join the club.
Funding to purchase the club and refurbish it has been secured from investors, but the plan is heavily dependant on members supporting the project to ensure its success.
The deal is dependant on a minimum of 350 members signing up and, while the steering committee set up to restore the club have said they are “close to that figure”, more support is needed says Liam Lawlor, former captain in Ballyneety and one of the main drivers of the project.
“We are pleased with the response so far. There are a lot more forms out that haven’t been returned, so we are asking people to return the form and show the expression of interest as soon as possible, so that we know where we are going,” he explained.
The funding secured from investors includes the cost of refurbishing the club and restoring the course, but Mr Lawlor, former principal of Catherine McAuley school, says interested parties “need to get off the fence” and show their intent to join for it to go ahead.
“We want to convince our investors that we are serious and that we will be up and running,” he said.
“There is a temptation for people to sit on the fence and expect the facility to happen, but realistically it won’t happen unless people show their support and sign the form to show serious intent,” said Mr Lawlor.
“We have had a very favourable response from the residents in Ballyneety, they see it not just as a golf course, but as a way of life. It would be very positive for the community as a whole. We would hope that eventually it would have a little bit more than just golf and the whole community would be involved,” he explained.
Donal McSweeney, PGA professional and former club pro in the club is heavily involved in the deal, and intends to re-open the driving range and a golf academy or “centre of excellence” in the club, Mr Lawlor explained.