Doonbeg and Rosses Point golf clubs feel the brunt of recent Atlantic storms
Like a lot of links courses, Dooks escapes worse of the carnage because of rock armour protection
Marie Falvey holds up a dead fish during clean-up at Lahich GC.
Clean-up operation at Lahinch Golf Club.
Lahinch Golf Club clean-up which involved 100 people.
500 black bags of debris were collected at Lahinch.
Galway Gof Club after the recent Atlantic Storm, where an estimated 212 tonnes of stones and sand was dumped onto the course.
No silver lining just yet, not for a large number of golf courses which felt the brunt of the recent Atlantic storms. Although many greenkeepers and officials offered silent prayers in thanks to whoever invented the defence mechanism against coastal erosion that has become known as “rock armour”, which – in some cases – limited the damage and resulted in a fallout of nothing worse than debris, litter and rocks that a good, old-fashioned all-hands-on-deck clean-up could sort out, other courses weren’t so fortunate.
Doonbeg, the acclaimed links in Co Clare designed by Greg Norman, and Co Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point, the traditional home of the West of Ireland amateur championship, suffered damage to the dune complexes as the combination of high tides and storm force winds took a toll. The back tee – one of four – on the 18th hole at Doonbeg was swept away. “At least we still have another three (tee boxes) there,” remarked Joe Russell, the managing director, in taking a philosophical view.
The saving grace for many affected courses – among them Ballybunion, Dooks and Tralee – was that rock armour has, over the past number of decades, been erected along the shoreline as measures against coastal erosion.
As Michéal Shanahan, the course superintendent at Dooks put it, “we escaped because of the work done in putting in rock armour in the 80s and 90s and more in recent years . . . the erection of the rock armour is protecting the nature of the dunes, it has proven to be environmentally friendly because, if it wasn’t there, I’d estimate large parts of dunes would have been swept away. We’d have lost the guts of nine holes.”
Ballybunion, which has had a history of coastal erosion down the years until a concerted programme of protection in the form of rock armour and gabions (rocks encased in metal netting) was formalised. The cost of such protection down the years has run into many millions of euro but its effectiveness was demonstrated in recent weeks with its ability to withstand the Atlantic storms. Apart from some debris and rocks on the 16th and 17th holes – “which will require a bit of cleaning up”, according to general manager Vari McGreevy – the damage was limited.
Likewise in Tralee, the effectiveness of the rock armour limited any serious erosion. “It’s only minor, in comparison to what it could have been,” said a relieved course superintendent JJ Young.
In Waterville, the club’s general manager Noel Cronin was also thankful for the effectiveness of the rock armour. “We had a major job done about 10 years, it has been wonderful. We’re very lucky,” he said.