Irish golf clubs have gone through more lows than highs over the past 25 years but if there's a young club that bucks that trend it's Corrstown Golf Club at Kilsallaghan in north County Dublin.
Born out of the dream of a couple of nomadic golfers looking for a place to call home, the club celebrates its silver jubilee this year with close to 900 members on the books and another 100 soon to join.
The Corrstown story is a heartening one after some difficult years for the newcomers who joined the golfing party in the pre-Celtic Tiger years and fell by the wayside during the crash.
From a peak of 1,100 members pre-2008 to a low of 753 members in 2011, this charming parkland club near Dublin airport is now a thriving enterprise with a humming social atmosphere and a spirit of gender equality that's thrived from day one.
The Corrstown story began in 1991 when two disillusioned golfers, tired of "Pay and Play Golf" and denied the chance to join an established club by the long waiting lists, decided they would try to build a place they could call home.
The story goes that Paddy Kelly and Tony McKeon approached auctioneer Kevin Fox and asked if he could source suitable land for a 27 hole golf complex in north county Dublin.
Brothers Willie and Gordon Carter owned land and while the future founders of Corrstown told them they had no money, the brothers were persuaded that a scheme could be put in place to raise the necessary funds to buy 184 acres at £4,000 an acre.
Shares were sold at £3,300 and the club's first capital expense was 12 pairs of wellington boots to be handed to prospective members on "viewing days".
There was nothing to see, of course, just farmland beyond the muddy hedgerows.
Despite that, a crowd of 450 attended the inaugural meeting of Corrstown Golf Club in the ALSAA Sports Complex near Dublin airport in March 1992 and more than 100 signed up straight away.
The project was clearly viable and when the landowners agreed to accept payment in stages, the club appointed landscaper Peter O'Brien and agronomist and course designer Eddie Connaughton to set about creating the basic first nine of what is now a magnificent 27 hole facility.
Tom Clarke, the retired head greenkeeper at Portmarnock and Hermitage, came on board and the Orchard nine of 1993 was quickly followed by the River and Meadow nines in May 1994.
A spacious clubhouse opened in 1996 at a cost of £840,000 but the club grew so rapidly that a new facility was built in 2007, making Corrstown the envy of most clubs in the country with 27 holes and a burgeoning membership.
Many were attracted by the club's emphasis on equality, which is enshrined in its constitution.
There are no reserved car parking spaces for the officers and the club's ethos is simple — "to provide a friendly, relaxed atmosphere in which all categories of golfers can enjoy their game."
The original par-35 Orchard course has matured wonderfully and remains an enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing challenge despite measuring just under 3,000 yards.
Connaughton's "River Course" the name given to two newer nines, measures close to 6,700 yards from the back stakes with water in play on five holes - the fourth, ninth, 11th, 13th and 18th.
Meandering streams and the planting of ash and beech trees make for a scenic and testing round while the USGA standard, sand-based greens are challenging but fun to putt.
Share-based ownership has clearly given the members a wonderful sense of belonging and Corrstown's loyal band of golfers enjoys a championship-standard course that remains playable for golfers of all handicaps.
The club cites the "considerable influx" of players from pay-and-play facilities such as Deer Park as a key to its growth, helping the club add to its growing collection of interclub pennants.
If you're interested in becoming part of the uplifting story of Corrstown, call the office on 01-8640533.
Given its humble beginnings and its seemingly effortless journey through some of the most challenging economic times, the club remains a shining example of club spirit, just 15 minutes from Dublin airport and only 30 minutes from the GPO.
Factfile - Corrstown Golf Club
- Address: Kilsallaghan, Co.Dublin
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: 01-8640533
- Green fees: Midweek €25; Weekend €30.
- Society Rates: Midweek €23; weekend €28.
- Buggy hire: Yes, €25.
- Club hire: Yes, €15.
- Electric trolley hire: Yes, €15
- Range Balls: €5
Signature hole: Meadow Course 9th, 382 yards (371m), Par 4; Ladies 298m Par 4
A hugely testing par-four with an island green, a long drive aimed at the right half of the fairway will give a good view of the green.
Consider a lay up for your second shot unless you drive beyond the 150m markers. If you go for the green, full commitment to your second shot is required as this hole has been the undoing of many over the years.
Membership Rates (2017):
Under 25, €400; Under 30, €600; Associate, €730; Full, €1100; Joint, €1760.
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- Royal Dublin Golf Club
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- St Margaret's Golf & Country Club
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- The Island Golf Club
- Westmanstown Golf Club.
This feature first appeared in the Irish Independent's weekly Tee to Green golf supplement on 27 April 2017