Portarlington Golf Club drives ahead of pandemic challenge

Captain of the Laois Offaly club Brian Guinan writes about how local golf is surviving Covid-19

Brian Guinan, Captain, Portarlington Golf Club


Brian Guinan, Captain, Portarlington Golf Club

Golf portarlington laois offaly

One of Portarlington Golf Club's most promising young exciting prospects for the future Bernard Scull, Juniors Captain 2019 Barton Cup team member 2020 in action before lockdown

One word that we come across regularly nowadays is “challenge” whether it's a personal challenge or a team challenge in sporting terms.

Some people tend to make it a win or lose situation, however, regardless of the outcome, there is a lot to be gained by analysing how the challenge was handled from a lessons learned aspect.

Like several other sports clubs, Portarlington Golf Club has encountered many challenges, some that required unpopular decisions by the council. For example, in recent years, action was required to address a blip in our financial situation, so temporary levies were introduced and strict budget controls were put in place, even before lockdown, to ensure the club’s financial future was guaranteed.


Great credit is due to the finance committee and some council members who stood up and showed great leadership qualities when it was needed. By working together as a team we overcame these challenges.

The success of this leadership can be measured this year when the overall annual subscription is now reduced by €50.

Good leadership, not to be confused with good management, is a key factor to surviving, and achieving results when dealing with the various challenges sports clubs encounter, especially during this lockdown period.

Good leadership comes with a skillset that would include; integrity, ability to delegate, communication, self awareness, gratitude, learning agility, influence and empathy, and while some good leaders will identify with all of these qualities, others may have a bit of work to do.

There are several challenges awaiting Portarlington Golf Club following the removal of lockdown restrictions, however, we are fortunate to have a young, vibrant and active council that possess good leadership qualities, are focussed on the betterment of the club, and by embracing change as a positive step forward, with the use of the lessons learned experience to achieve improvement by working together as a group. More below picture.

Pictured: Rioghan Murphy on of the up and coming players at Portarlington Golf Club

Going Forward

Because of the big changes in the workplace with people working from home, and many having to adapt to a flexible work schedule, golfers are having to utilise their spare time prudently, in order to play golf be it morning or afternoon.

So, our members' time will also have to adapt to accommodate these green fees and societies, as these customers are such a valuable asset to the club. Again this is another challenge that has to be overcome if we want to survive.

However, I’m sure our members won’t be found wanting and will continue to display the type of leadership that has become the club’s trademark in recent times.

As the figures for new cases of Covid continue to be on the increase, the recent announcement of an extension of Level 5 Covid restrictions until March 5 was to be expected.

This is proving to be particularly hard on some of our golfers from a mental health point of view, as a great number of them see the golf club as a venue for social interaction, as well as a form of exercise, with lots of socially distancing good humoured banter thrown in.

While “an exception to the rule” is not on the agenda, it is interesting to note that the golf course with strict guidelines, being in place, is probably one of the safest places to leisurely spend a few hours.

In the meantime, by everyone staying safe and adhering to these restrictions, we can hopefully look forward to a reduction to Level 4 as the next step and getting out again for social golf, and maybe some fine weather in March.

Membership Renewal

While the Club may appear to be at a standstill, this is certainly not the case. Behind the scenes, sub-committees for various activities continue to be functioning, with Zoom meetings taking place regularly.

For example, payment of membership subscriptions is vital revenue to the Club. The introduction of a €30 voucher offer, redeemable against competition entry, has proved to be a popular attraction with a large number of renewals received in January.

Online Lotto

The Online Lotto committee has been busy with a view to launching end of February, and it is anticipated this will generate much-needed income for the Club. Promoters are already busy and members response has been very promising, and with a Jackpot of €10K up for grabs, it's all systems go for the online lotto.

Sales & Marketing

The Sales & Marketing team have been out and about on a “Shop Local Stay Local Drive” in an effort to promote local businesses as well as generating sponsorship income for the Club.

The target is to achieve sponsorship to cover all competition prizes, with a saving of €15k plus per annum.

The team have had a fantastic response so far and would like to thank all our sponsors for their overwhelming generosity.

Governance Committee

With the imminent advent of Golf Ireland replacing the GUI and the ILGU, it is vital that Portarlington Golf Club is ready to adopt the new format in the new year, and in doing so a 6 person working committee as directed, has been appointed to handle the club’s affairs during the transitional stages. We are delighted to say that following a recent ZOOM meeting a Chairperson & Secretary have been elected and work is progressing towards a Golf Ireland meeting at the end of February.

Again we are fortunate to have 6 extremely competent, 3 Ladies & 3 Gents, persons representing the club, and ensuring our best interests are served.

Junior Academy

Junior Convenor Sinead Scully, with Team Mentors: Criona O’Dea, Alan Norton, Noel McMahon & J P Kelly, Sarah Hickey & Aine Moore have already entered teams in CGI competitions 2021, and following last year’s great work with Chris Hickey, success may just be around the corner.

The Junior Academy would like to thank Noel & Liam McMahon, Martin and Michael Turley and Michael McEvoy and all the staff in Portarlington Credit Union for their continued support.