Huge surge in support for return of golf to Ballyneety

THERE was a huge turnout at a public meeting in the South Court Hotel this week that will determine the fate of the golf course in Ballyneety.

THERE was a huge turnout at a public meeting in the South Court Hotel this week that will determine the fate of the golf course in Ballyneety.

The initiative, being driven by former members and captains of the club once known as Limerick County, aims to see the club re-opened as a members club in early 2013.

Close to 250 former and prospective members seeking the formation of new club turned out on Monday evening, where a presentation was made to entice them to join up.

Leading the presentation were former captain of the club Liam Lawlor – former principal of Catherine McAuley school – and Donal McSweeney, PGA professional and former club pro in the club.

The meeting was told that funding has been secured to purchase the course – the company behind which went into liquidation in early 2011 - and refurbish it, while an agronomist’s report has indicated that it could be fully restored with substantial works.

An ‘exclusivity agreement’ has been signed with liquidator Gearoid Costelloe and a steering committee set up to try and re-open the club. Funding has been secured from investors to do this, but the plan is heavily dependant on members supporting the project to ensure its success.

Mr Lawlor said he was very pleased with the turnout and positive reaction from former and prospective members who attended the meeting.

“We are delighted. We were hopeful that that was the feeling out there because anecdotally that was what we had heard, but given the time of the year we were thrilled with the numbers that turned up,” he explained.

“There was a huge degree of positivity from those that attended and from that point of view we were delighted also,” he added.

The meeting was told that the steering committee were completely unconnected to the previous owners of the course which incorporates over 185 acres of land in Ballyneety.

The intention is to form a members club, to restore the facility, to re-instate the golf course - designed by Des Smyth and opened by then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds in 1994 - to restore the club house and driving range and ‘additional amenities’.

Legal contracts are currently being prepared in order to do this, Mr Lawlor told the meeting, who said that extensive financial costings in relation to purchasing and restoring the course, had been done and funding secured to do this.

The meeting was told that the funding secured would be repaid within five years and that a minimum of 350 members were needed to sign up and pay fees, starting at €695 a year for a full adult membership.

“Nobody is underestimating the challenge,” said Mr Lawlor. “We do need the support and at the end of the day it is a Limerick venture. We really need that commitment from people and we need it early.”

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