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Mark Reynolds: “I was 10 years of age when I joined Dromoland Castle. I was hitting a few shots when I was approached about joining and the rest is history." Picture: Arthur Ellis.

Open helping to drive Dromoland’s golf ambitions

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AS someone who has been a member of Dromoland Castle Golf Club for over 30 years, Mark Reynolds is well placed to judge the significance of the club hosting the KPMG Women’s Irish Open from September 22-25.

The Quin native has seen the club expand from humble beginnings in to a picturesque course that continues to be improve upon with Reynolds playing an important role in the continuous enhancing of the players’ experience.

Since becoming a member in 1988, he has a keen understanding of the importance of golf as part of the overall Dromoland Castle experience as he hopes to see a large crowd turn out to watch the world’s best women’s golfers in action from September 22-25.

“I was 10 years of age when I joined Dromoland Castle. I was hitting a few shots when I was approached about joining and the rest is history. I’ve been a golf member since 1988 and I joined the golf team in 2004 so I will be entering my 19th season soon.”

“I was a few years travelling and I got a business degree in UL. When I came back David Foley said he needed someone to work on outside operations. That involved meeting and greeting the visitors and being hands on. I worked my way up to Golf Manager and I’m fortunate to be a part of a team that is continuously looking to improve standards and enhance the public’s experience.”

Reynolds states that this four day tournament, which will be broadcast on Sky Sports, is the biggest event that Dromoland Golf Club has ever hosted.

With this competition being held for the first time in a decade, Reynolds states that two and a half years of hard work behind the scenes will culminate when some of the best golfers in the world, including Leona Maguire, step foot on to the course.

“It is great to have the tournament back on the circuit. It was last held in 2012 and it will be the biggest event in Dromoland’s history. George Bush came in ’03 and we have hosted some important dignitaries but this is the biggest tournament we have ever held and it is huge for Dromoland and the region. We hosted the Irish Club PGA Pro-Am in 2017, ’18 and ’19 which is a big event but nothing like this.”

“We are hoping the crowds will come and show their support for the women’s game and we are looking forward to hosting this great event. This has been a two and a half year project and there has been an unbelievable amount of hard work behind the scenes with Eamonn (O’Donnell, Director of Golf at Dromoland), helping to push this so hopefully we get a great turnout.”

As Reynolds tries to ensure that the Leona Maguire and co. experience the best Dromoland has to offer, he also has a responsibility as Golf Manager to ensure members and the general public are looked after even when the pressure is on to ensure the course is in pristine condition for the start of the event.

“We have about 600 members so I would be dealing with international visitors, members and the local public on a daily basis. My job is to ensure they are looked after. I would check the shop to ensure that everything is running smoothly there. We built a new shop in 2019 so I would be there and helping outside with any queries or concerns.”

“I want to ensure there is a smooth process for everybody who steps on the golf course. A member might require more but they are paying a fee so we have to ensure we provide the best experience possible for them. It has been a balancing act trying to prioritise our day to day interactions while also attempting to plan for this event.”

There are few people who are better equipped to discuss the continued drive for excellence at Dromoland than their Golf Manager. The course has changed considerably since he first became a member.

The golf course is currently undergoing Phase One of a €2 million investment which will be ready for the Women’s Irish Open. It will see the redesign and renovation of all bunkers as well as the upgrade of tee boxes to catch the new vistas that have recently been opened up around the lake. The 18th hole has also been updated with an incredible finish in prospect for all competitors in two week’s time.

“There have been many great moments in the course’s history. In the late 80s, the back nine around the lake was built while joining the Golfing Union of Ireland, now Golf Ireland since 2019, was a huge step forward.

“The development of the clubhouse and the €6m upgrade at the turn of the century were very important moments. We hope this event will go down as one of if not the biggest moment in the history of Dromoland.”

The Quin native believes this event is not just important for Dromoland but also for the county as the hospitality sector continues to recover from the long lasting effects of the pandemic.
The Golf Manager believes this event can boost Clare’s profile and encourage more visitors to the county.

“This is massive for Clare. Sky Sports will have live coverage and the Golf Channel will be showing this event in the States. There was a big benefit to the economy when Lahinch hosted the Men’s Open and although the women’s tour are trying to reach those numbers, this is huge for the economy.”

“You can’t buy the level of coverage and interest that the county will receive. This is a superb showcase for Clare and hopefully we put our best foot forward and show what the county has to offer.”

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