Monday may have brought us more freedoms as we ease out of lockdown but life continues to be complicated. Manageable… but complicated. We all know the impact that Covid-19 has had on our lives and will do for some time to come. There are businesses that will not re-open, hotels that will wait to be purchased by new owners and golf courses that will be returned to field. Businesses in the golf industry have suffered, too, as courses fell quiet, purse strings were tightened and foreign travel trickled away. Even now, as Irish courses welcome visitors, the dangers remain. The withdrawals from the Travelers Championship made that clear to see.
And yet there are reasons to be optimistic… because clubs are now making their courses available to everyone and clubhouses are re-opening (to some degree). The same is true in the golf tour operator world. The general feeling was that smaller operators would be crushed by the lack of business brought about by this pandemic but as one company shows, this is not the case.
Fairways and FunDays is a leading Irish inbound golf tour operator. Founded in 2014, the company expanded its reach in 2019, when Peter Lawrie was brought on board as Director of Golf. And in June 2020, there was further growth as three new members joined the team.
Padraig McGrath and Sinead Sexton are both golf professionals from County Clare. Padraig will provide golfers visiting the west coast with golf course selection guidance, as well as hands-on golfing tips. That’s not a bad idea when you consider the differences between playing on a parkland and playing on a links. Sinead splits her time between Ireland and Florida – she will promote Ireland to her contacts in Florida, and identify additional tours for new target audiences. Fairways and Fundays is well known for developing tours for golfers and non golfers within the same group (the clue’s in the name) and in the current Covid-19 world, that will require extra effort.
The final new member of the team is Mike Carroll, owner of @Fit_For_Golf, which is based in Orange County, California. Mike will assist the company by promoting Ireland as a golfing destination to his growing golfing network on the West Coast of the USA.
“First and foremost, Fairways and FunDays is about bringing high quality, memorable golf experiences to our international clients,” said Peter Lawrie. “So, bringing Padraig, Sinéad and Mike onto the team, given their strong and growing credentials in the game, will greatly assist us in improving our product, tailoring it to specific customer groups and broadening our market coverage.”
Joe O’Carroll, Commercial Director, added: “Although 2020 has been extremely difficult for the global tourism industry, we are confident that there is now pent up demand for golfing travel in our main markets. This will be released in the latter part of the year and throughout 2021.
“We are thrilled to have been able to attract such talent onto our team. The new team members’ strengths speak for themselves but what is most important to us is that they are all great people, passionate about the business, the game and about Ireland, and all strongly fit with the culture at our company.”
Tour operators (hotels, golf clubs, hire car companies, airlines… the list goes on) have encountered logistical problems as so many of this year’s international bookings have been pushed to 2021, but that doesn’t mean development and growth and hope have stopped. This is true across golf, hospitality, tourism and all levels of business. It would be glib to say that the worst is past, as a second wave could be stirred up with the re-opening of the economy, but companies – and golfers – are looking to return to a more familiar sense of normality. Expanding your business and looking at new opportunities is certainly one way to do that.