Delivering the vision at Seapoint Golf Links

Kevin Markham
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Seapoint Golf Links

THE BACKSTORY

Opening for play in 1995, Seapoint Golf Links Co. Louth is a relatively new addition to the Irish Links scene. Perched upon the same famed linksland and terrain as the adjacent Co. Louth Golf Club (Baltray), the course quickly came into the spotlight, hosting several high-profile tournaments including the 2011 Irish PGA Championships and the 2014 Irish Amateur Close Championship won by John Ross Galbraith.

A member’s club at inception, Seapoint suffered financial turbulence in recent years and struggled to meet repayments on its substantial €3.7m debt. The subsequent sale to a Carr Golf-led consortium in October last year was the first deal of its kind in Ireland and protected the club’s future. It released a heavy burden of responsibility from members, who could now look forward to the benefits of private ownership and much needed investment in the clubhouse, golf course, practice facilities and maintenance machinery.

THE REBIRTH

The acquisition not only safeguarded the club’s future, it helped reignite this East Coast links to its former glory. In summer 2022, Carr Golf completed a comprehensive clubhouse refurbishment, maintaining its commitment to improving the club facilities and playing experiences for members and guests.

The project included a new roof, flooring, windows and doors, a complete interior overhaul with a refurbished bar and restaurant and upgraded bathrooms. A new 250sq.m terrace was installed for golfers to enjoy a drink and take in the beautiful views over the Boyne estuary.

Reflecting on the clubhouse renovation, Carr Golf Chief Commercial Officer, Alex Saul commented, “It’s fair to say that over the years, the facilities at Seapoint had gotten tired, dated and were suffering from a lack of investment. Our team of architects and engineers reviewed the clubhouse and what started as a modest refurbishment grew into a much more extensive project. By the end, the entire fabric of the building and its structure had been stripped back and replaced or upgraded.”

The result is impressive with a wonderful sense of welcome in the new clubhouse. Members and guests will be very comfort-able in front of the log burning stoves while there are several large screen TVs to watch live sport. The experience is as fit for golfers to enjoy a post-round drink as it is for local families and friends to dine in the restaurant with stunning views of the 18th hole. You don’t need to be a member to soak up the terrace views, with the bar and restaurant open for all to enjoy.

THE VISION

The new owners of Seapoint Golf Links have a bold vision and that is to compete with Ireland’s leading links courses.  The club’s location along the East Coast M1 run from Dublin to the heavyweight trophy links of Royal County Down and further north to Royal Portrush and even neighbouring Baltray makes it an ideal stop for domestic and international traffic. With both the Ryder Cup and Open Championship coming to Irish shores in the next few years, as well as a host of other tournaments, Seapoint offers an attractive option for golf tourists.

Many of the famous trophy links are already displaying ‘sold out’ signs to visitors next summer and Seapoint now provides a viable alternative. The facilities and course are now up to par and would delight any visiting golfer. For the more cost-conscious international traveller, it offers a great value for money links experience. “Seapoint benefits from naturally stunning links land and dune scapes. Our €130 weekend international rates are a fraction of what trophy links up and down the coast will charge next summer,” Saul explains.

Ireland’s East Coast has a global reputation as a must-play, bucket-list links destination and one of the USP’s Seapoint are aiming to deliver on is the coveted Saturday tee time that has often eluded the tourist golfer, or the domestic group playing along this stretch. “We’re working hard to provide a product and service that benchmarks favourably with the elite links venues” explains Saul. “As the only East Coast links with Saturday visitor tee times, Seapoint can seamlessly slot into 7-day itineraries. Our new caddying programme delivers an important facet of the visitor experience, whilst also providing local employment.”

THE LINKS

Designed by Ryder Cup legend Des Smyth, Seapoint is a true test of golf despite its tender years.

Measuring 7,042 yards from its Championship tees,  the course provides a links challenge for even the most formidable of golfers. Though a variety of tee positions ensures a fair test for all abilities to enjoy a wonderful links experience. The closing stretch of holes are amongst the most scenic in the country with panoramic views across the Irish Sea.

Carr Golf’s plans to improve the member and visitor experience is set to continue with a large project set to be undertaken on the course itself. A team of golf course architects and designers have been appointed to formulate a long-term course improvement plan to help elevate Seapoint’s course rankings over the coming years.

Ed Pettit, Managing Director Carr Golf Maintenance Services goes into more detail. “We want to provide golfers with more views across the beach and Irish Sea by creating more elevated tee boxes. The plan is to enhance the bunkering and strategic playability of the course. Agronomically, we’ll enrich the traditional links environment with fescue dominated turf that ensures fast, firm and true links playing conditions.”

THE CULTURE

Whilst attracting overseas golf tourists is of strategic importance to Seapoint’s future, the importance of facilitating new and existing members has not been lost, which is great to hear.

“Members are the lifeblood to any golf club,” said Saul. “We want to protect that sense of pride and belonging, create an environment that brings people together for some craic about the missed putt or win on the 18th. Our focus is to continually enhance the facilities and improve the experience for our 700+ members, so they continue to enjoy the links as they always have done.”

Membership subscription costs at Seapoint in 2022 provide value for money. A 7-day full membership can be obtained for a fraction of the amount charged at links courses further down the coast.

The club runs weekly open competitions every Tuesday for just €45 with a guarantee of summer tee boxes and no mats.

WHAT NEXT?

Golf clubs across the island have benefited from an unprecedented period of growth over the last couple of years with an increase in club membership and overall golf participation.

Though it remains to be seen whether the packed membership rosters and tee sheets during the covid bounce will continue into 2023. Golf Clubs across the island are under pressure to provide the best customer experience possible, despite rising clubhouse and course maintenance cost pressures.

For Seapoint Golf Links, the future is bright and secure. Members are already looking forward to the next programme of developments. It’s an exciting time for all involved with the club.

As one of Ireland’s leading links golf courses, it’s a facility that the local community can be proud of, and international guests may enjoy for many years to come.

FACTFILE

  • Formed: 1995
  • Membership Rates: 7-Day full membership in 2022 was €1,088, plus join fee and levies
  • Green Fee Rates: From €50-€130 per golfer.
  • Open Comps: Every Tuesday, €45 per golfer.
  • Society & Corporate Golf: Packages from €55 per golfer.
  • Where to stay: dHotel, Scholars Townhouse and Co. Louth Golf Club
  • How to book: SeapointGolfLinks.com

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