Ivan Morris Column – Should frost cause such disruption for clubs?

Ivan Morris Column – Should frost cause such disruption for clubs?

MUCH as I hate supporting Donald Trump, the plan he has submitted to 'save' his golf course at Doonbeg from future Atlantic storms makes sense.

First of all, the golf course brings so much tourism traffic to this remote part of West Clare and so many jobs are at stake it would be a crime not to allow a sea barrier.

One way that the environmentalists might look on this but far from Trump's concerns is to consider the plight of the snails and other insects that will be washed away and drowned by the advancing sea?

The €10-million investment during construction, 40% of which will go straight into the Government's coffers in various taxes and charges has to be weighed too.

Building protections from the remorseless ocean are not unusual. Is there not a seawall at Kilkee and many other locations around Ireland?

There is an enormous wall protecting Bondi Beach in Sydney, one of the most beautiful and iconic beaches in the world. One may throw one's hands in the air at the decisions made by Planning Authorities but this one, in golf terms, is a gimmee not least because a wonderful, beloved, golf course amenity is involved.

Donald Trump may like to 'overplay' his cards at times by 'bluffing' what he perceives as a gullible public but I wouldn't like to see him 'raised and called' on this issue.

I just wish he would use different tactics to get his own way because one's instinct is to cut off one's nose to spite one's face and suffer the unnecessary consequences.

When Trump is right, and he is on this one, we should swallow our pride and let him have his way.

In the planning application, Trump's consultants told the Clare County Council: "In the medium term, the 'do nothing' scenario will bring the viability of the entire resort and its potential closure into question with a permanent and profound negative economic impact on the local economy."

The stakes ARE that high when Trump International has forecasted a €38m bonanza for the local economy in the years from 2017 to 2024.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) confirms the ambition to stage the Irish Open, which would be worth many more millions.

However, the 242-page EIS also states that the resort and the wider economy is missing out on 'millions of euro' because of the absence of a dedicated event centre at the resort.

Developing coastal protection is key to releasing future investment. It's feasible and does not depend on the public purse. If no barrier is put in place, the dunes will erode by one-metre per year.

The proposed barrier would be up to 13-feet in height, which would not be any higher than the existing cobble bank. A decision is due in April.

I played golf in France last week in the coldest weather I have ever experienced. The chill factor was vicious and well into the minuses.

On the course, my body tightened up and my swing got shorter and shorter but I found a way to battle on as best I could. I was playing in the French Inter Club Championship, which is similar to our Barton Shield and Senior Cup combined; four foursomes matches in the morning and seven singles in the afternoon, all played off scratch.

There are nearly 800-Golf Clubs affiliated to the French Federation, so it takes quite a bit of organizing. By yearend, a club will be crowned champions of France and then selected to play in the European Club's Cup that our Senior Cup winners are also invited to in November.

The course (Golf D'Etoilles southeast of Paris) was as hard as a rock in the morning due to severe overnight frost and the ball did some strange things but it was still golf.

In the afternoon, when the greens had thawed out, I saw little difference in the greens apart from being a tiny bit more predictable and smoother especially when chipping onto; putting was the same.

The French don't believe in closing their courses, especially at weekends when their members are gagging for a game after being at work all week long.

They insist on playing away without the fear of consequences. Closing courses due to frost is not a proven concept in their minds. They might be right!

I saw no 'burn marks' the following morning after a very busy day on a very busy, pay and play facility.

I am aware the same procedures obtain at many courses in the USA, Canada, the North of England and Scotland where they encounter more frost, snow and ice than we do in Ireland.

I can understand stopping play for snow and ice but I am now having serious doubts about the need to ban play due to frost. Are we being fed an old wives tale?

Are Irish Golf Clubs shooting themselves in the foot financially by being 'too precious' about their golf courses?

After a difficult winter for Irish golf when our courses were closed more often than I can ever remember, to close a course because of 'a little frost' seems very harsh and unfair to fee-paying members.

Playing golf is a habit. It's an easy game to give up. Keep the members happy and they will keep on playing!