Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is planning to redevelop a par three golf course in Marlay Park, which it had closed in recent years following a botched move to artificial putting greens.
The south Co Dublin public golf course has been closed since early 2018, after numbers using the course dwindled after the installation of synthetic greens during a previous redesign in 2011.
Ruairí Ó Dúlaing, the councils heads of parks, said the switch to artificial greens had been a disaster for the course. We had got some advice that artificial greens were the way forward for public golf courses. That was very poor advice, he says.
The artificial greens had made the course incredibly difficult to play, particularly for less experienced golfers more likely to use the public facility, he said.
It was way too difficult for your casual golfers If you pop the ball onto the green it just rolls away, which is demoralising, he told The Irish Times.
Following years of declining footfall the council closed the course three years ago. Now the local authority is seeking to install new grass greens and reopen the course.
In recent weeks the council has engaged an external golfing consultant to advise on the revamp of the course, who will report back within the next two months.
Following further discussion with councillors the local authority then plans to go to tender seeking a company to undertake the project. The cost of the redevelopment will depend on the scale of the works required.
Grass greens would be what we would go back to, Ó Dúlaing says. It was his ambition to advertise the tender for the project by the summer, he says.
Three time golf major winner Pádraig Harrington is said to have often taken his mother Breda around the par three Rathfarnham course while teaching her the game a number of years ago.
The council received some pushback after the course was initially closed in 2018, but people had voted with their feet in terms of not wanting to use it, Ó Dúlaing says.
The redeveloped course would need to wash its own face financially, and be able to cover the cost of its upkeep, he says.
When it came to council projects if something goes badly its out there for everyone to see, so officials are keen to avoid a double bogey with the second redevelopment of the course, he says.
It was crucial the facility doesnt end up closed again after we spend x amount of public money, Ó Dúlaing says.
One option being explored would be for a private company to take on the upfront costs of the redevelopment, then operate the facility under licence for a number of years, he says.
The revamped course would look to attract those who would not be members of private golf clubs, and children from schools in the area. Youre not going to be told you cant play because of what trousers youre wearing, Ó Dúlaing says.
Golf suffers from its image sometimes a lot of kids would never be exposed to golf, he says. The council would look at having some type of coaching facility in the course to help introduce people to golf, he says.

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