Killarney GC hit hard by the recession

The famous golf and fishing club have had to make more than half of their staff redundant

Simon Dyson plays to the 18th green at Killarney on the way to winning the 2011 Irish Open. Photograph: Inpho

Simon Dyson plays to the 18th green at Killarney on the way to winning the 2011 Irish Open. Photograph: Inpho


The club that staged four Irish Open Championships, in 1990, 1991, 2010, and 2011, was forced into the decision following a detailed business study by the club in association with professional services consultants Deloitte.

Management informed the club’s 41 staff yesterday it would be making 21 redundancies in order to safeguard the long-term future in what it described as “very testing times”.

The famous club, which skirts the Killarney lakes, was originally comprised of three courses, Killeen, where the recent Irish Open was staged, Mahony’s Point and Lackabane. But under mounting financial pressure last year, the award-winning Lacakabane was sold to Leibherr Container Cranes, a German factory whose lands bordered the course. The Kerryman newspaper reported that deal allowed the club to write of debts in the region of €5 million.

The club is currently engaged in a complex three-year process to ensure it can overcome the ongoing recession-related trading difficulties, which has impacted hugely on green-fee traffic and membership.

At yesterday’s meeting, general manager Maurice O’Meara and human resources consultant Alf McGrath outlined some major difficulties that the club has been experiencing. “We have retained as many jobs as possible in the circumstances but it is a source of great regret that positions are being lost,” said O’Meara.

“We need to act now to secure the long-term future of the club which, as a top quality tourist attraction, is a great asset for Killarney and Kerry.”

Partially successful
The club had in the past engaged in Open days in Cork and Dublin, where they tried to attract society golfers at discounted prices. The scheme was only partially successful.

They also expect a 20 per cent reduction in forecasted green fees, while subscriptions have also fallen by approximately 20 per cent. The club also say that 220 people have opted not to renew their membership.

Those issues combined with bad weather in recent years has also had a negative impact on visitor numbers as well as on the preparation and maintenance of the championship courses.

On a more positive note the club said it had cleared all debts and that creditors were being paid in a timely manner. Management also confirmed the bank has taken the decision to withdraw all credit facilities going forward.

The staging of the Irish Open reportedly cost Killarney approximately €200,000, although the world-wide exposure and the potential for golf tourism was seen to be worth vastly more than that.

Killarney Golf Club has members from all around the world and dates back to 1893. Regarded as one of the most spectacular golfing locations in Europe, it was also the venue for the Curtis Cup in 1996, the Irish Ladies Open Championship in 2003 and the Ryder Cup Challenge Tour Event in 2006.

Yesterday the club Website quoted standard Green Fees at € 100 for the Killeen course and € 75 for Mahony’s Point.

As part of the development strategy for the period up to and including 2015, there has been an extensive evaluation of the club’s trading performance and revenue streams.