Deeds and WeedsJanuary 23, 2009

Buyer's Market For Golfers In Ireland

Thorough overview of the private golf club market in Ireland in today's Irish Times. Having made a couple of golf trips to Ireland over the years, I must admit I never thought of Ireland as a high-end private club kind of place -- indeed, what I loved best about the country was that its best courses were nearly all of the public-access variety -- but that has obviously changed in recent years, probably as a result of the golf course construction boom that hit the Emerald Isle (along with early everywhere else).

Anyway, the conditions in Ireland are a familiar story to anyone who has been paying attention to the economy. Most of the newer clubs in Ireland are struggling. (The starkest example is Doonbeg, with an award-winning Greg Norman-designed golf course and an astronomic €53,984 initiation fee. The story says the club lost €7 million last year, and €28 million in recent years.) Some clubs, like Luttrellstown GC, have closed. Others, like Druid's Heath, are now waiving the initiation fees in an effort to attract members.

What that means, of course, is that if you live in Ireland and you have the financial wherewithal, there has probably never been a better time than right now to join a golf club.

-- G.R.