Strength in num­bers

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RESULTS / ROUND-UP -

FROM an orig­i­nal line-up of five, SWING could boast con­nec­tions with no fewer than 13 clubs when they cel­e­brated 30 years of growth at a spe­cial gath­er­ing in Bally­bunion on Fri­day, writes Der­mot Gilleece.

The oc­ca­sion was marked by a team event in­volv­ing 60 par­tic­i­pants from these pro­gres­sive fa­cil­i­ties.

In 1987, Denis Bros­nan brought rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Tralee, Kil­lar­ney, Water­ville Lahinch and Bally­bunion to­gether in the be­lief that co-op­er­a­tion could do for golf tourism what it had achieved in his Kerry Group. A mea­sure of the ven­ture’s suc­cess is that an­nual green-fee rev­enue of £26,000 for Tralee GC in 1987, for in­stance, has now grown to €1.7m.

“Growth was dra­matic,” said Bren­dan Keogh, who suc­ceeded Paddy O’Looney as CEO of SWING. “For in­stance, from 800 green-fee rounds in its first year of op­er­a­tion, SWING were do­ing 23,000 rounds by 1996, within our own re­gion.”

Ex­pan­sion be­came in­evitable. Three fur­ther clubs, Dooks, Din­gle and Dro­moland Cas­tle, joined the orig­i­nal five and, more re­cently, they have been fur­ther boosted by as­so­ciate mem­bers Old Head Links, Doon­beg, Adare, Gork GC and Ring of Kerry, mak­ing 13 in all. And co-op­er­a­tion is set to de­liver an­other hand­some dividend with the area em­bark­ing on a new tourist sea­son.

With its new, fes­cue greens and re-shaped 18th hole, Bally­bunion was suit­ably re­splen­dent for this, the club’s 125th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions. And lo­cal ri­vals were strongly rep­re­sented in Fri­day’s win­ning team, in­volv­ing the cur­rent cap­tain of Lahinch and the pres­i­dents of Tralee and Kil­lar­ney.

RE­SULT: 90pts K O’Ke­effe (6) Lahinch, B Daly (10) Bally­bunion, N Tim­lin (15) Tralee, J Buck­ley (19) Kil­lar­ney.

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