As 2016 draws to a close, it has been yet another memorable year for Limerick Golf Club, who are celebrating their 125th anniversary, as they added the Fred Daly championship to their already impressive résumé.
Established in 1891, the same year the Golfing Union of Ireland was formed, the Ballyclough based club has established itself as one of Munster’s most successful golf clubs, winning numerous Senior and Junior Cups, as well as being the home club for several South of Ireland Championship winning golfers.
Boasting close to 1000 members, the club also acted as the host for the prestigious JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am from 1990 until 2000, when it was moved to Adare Manor. Players such as Tiger Woods played the Pro-Am while it was hosted by Limerick Golf Club and raised over €19 million for charities in the region.
Limerick Golf Club Chairman and Honorary Secretary Gerry McKeon, who has been a member since 1977, said that seeing the former World Number One golfer up close was one of his personal highlights.
“Just to see Tiger Woods play around here was incredible. He was generally a nice guy and it was great,” Mr McKeon said.
Limerick Golf Club are one of the most successful clubs in Ireland, with members like Pat Murray and Vincent Nevin establishing themselves as some of the most successful amateur golfers in Ireland.
Mr McKeon believes that developing players from an early age and constantly reaching out for new members are the keys to maintaining that success.
“The club is a fairly private members club. It’s for the members and we try to encourage the young players to play in the club and become club members once again when they are finished their studies.
“We provide the juniors with good coaches like Ivan Morris and hope that they will progress. You also have people that come into Limerick with new jobs who are a part of the history of the club.
“Limerick is a nice club to join. It is a friendly club and it has a tradition of winning championships.”
The juniors from Limerick Golf Club overcame stiff competition in Munster and in the National Finals to win the Fred Daly Trophy at Galway Golf Club in August.
The players involved in the final were Sean Enright, Ciaran Vaughan, Luke O’Brien, Morgan Hanley and Ross Fitzgerald, and they recorded a 4-1 win over Kilkenny to win the competition.
In doing so, they became the first club from Munster to win the competition since its inauguration in 1995.
Mr McKeon said that this was a significant achievement for the club and hopes that the players involved will go on to play a part in the club’s future.
“It will take some time for this success to show at senior level because these lads are doing their Leaving Cert and are hoping to get scholarships in America afterwards, but hopefully they will come back and play with Limerick, Munster and Ireland when they are finished their studies.
“It just goes to show the strength that is there in the Junior programme in Limerick Golf Club and is very encouraging for the other players who see that their contemporaries can win All-Ireland competitions.
“Hopefully it will encourage other lads to practice to get their handicaps down and make the team for next year.”
As for the future of the club, Mr McKeon hopes that they will continue to attract new members and big events like the Irish Mid-Amateur Open Championship which it hosted in June of this year, as well as its own Pro-Am which was held in 2015.
“The club has grown a lot in the last 12 months. We revised the management structure and put a new financial model in place to ensure that the club has a solid future going forward.
“Like every golf club we need to attract new members in order to make sure the club remains viable and we also need to be able to attract big events like our own Pro-Am that we ran last year
“Golf clubs can’t stand still. You have to improve your course, improve the facilities for members and visitors and capitalise where you can on all your team.
“Once your name is up there at national level you have a really good profile. The club is in a good place going forward for the next few years and the mainstay of the club will be the development of juniors.
“We have to continue doing what we’re doing and do it better even. There’s competition from other clubs so you have to make sure your club looks after its members well and that when visitors come, that they have a good experience.”