The numbers just aren’t adding up for the remaining members of Castleisland Golf Club and their parkland course is set to close next Monday if a solution cannot be found before then.
The Irish Examiner reported yesterday that the members-run club in Kerry was about to follow its neighbour Killorglin GC the previous week and close its gates permanently having been declared to be “no longer a viable enterprise”.
Club captain and steering committee member Brendan Mullins fears the worst and in outlining the decline of a club that once boasted a membership of more than 650 before the 2008 recession hit he paints a picture of the fragility of life for a middle of the road golf club in Ireland when trouble brews.
Castleisland opened in 2002 and had grown steadily in size and reputation before the global economic collapse brought the Celtic Tiger to a crashing halt.
By the end of 2019, membership was down to 250 but with bad weather over the winter limiting opportunities and appetite for golf, subscriptions began to slow further.
By the time the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak reached our shores and all clubs were forcibly closed, any remaining hopes of Castleisland had of raising funds were dashed. When the pandemic is over and life returns to some sort of normality, the fear is that Castleisland will not reopen with only 125 members.
“I wouldn’t say we’re closed yet but we’re recommending closure to the members,” Mullins told the Irish Examiner.
“We’ve exhausted all the possibilities, I feel.
“There were people saying can we not do this, can we not do that, and we’ve thought about all those ideas but as we said in the email to members, if there’s a group of people that feel they can come forward and inspire us and form a new steering committee to keep it going then there would be a glimmer of hope.”
The club rents the land on which their course resides from a farmer and there are four staff members, three of which are full-time whose jobs could be lost.
“The rent and the wages are our only expenses but we just don’t have enough members generating income. Our income comes from subs and from societies, green fees, the odd fundraiser and we just don’t have enough income.
“We actually made out an income and expenditure sheet for the year of €166,000 to run the golf course for the year and that was plausible.
“We were relying on around €95,000 income from members’ subs but the club had only received €42,000 by March 17.
“The other income we were hoping for around €10,000 from dip the bucket, we were just about to launch that but you need pubs for that and the outbreak of the virus put paid to that as well as an open weekend and a classic in June, so that was €30,000 in fundraising gone there, and then green fees and societies.
“For example, the Kerry seniors were due to come in two weeks. They come two days, in April and September and that’s €1000 per day.
“We don’t do that well with societies but we still had a good few booked in and now that’s gone as well.”
“So we reached the stage by St Patrick’s Day where it would just have been reckless trading if we took any more subs from people.”