Category: Archive

Irish club/course for Dutchess County?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Irish and Irish American golfers in the New York area may soon be teeing off on their very own course.

Frustrated by perennial annoyances such as unsuitable tee-off times, long pre-dawn drives to courses, infuriatingly long waits, and the high initiation charges and annual fees of private clubs, a group of Irish golfers has formed a non-profit corporation called the Irish Golf Association Corp. to develop a $5 million golf club in Union Vale, in Dutchess County, N.Y.

The site, off the Taconic State Parkway, about an hour north of Yonkers Raceway, is located between Beekman Country Club and James Baird State Park.

The planned project includes an 18-hole golf course and a two-story, 9,000-square-foot clubhouse. The property includes provision for future construction of tennis courts and a swimming pool.

Lifetime membership in the new club, at present priced at $10,000, will be limited to 500 members. Memberships may be bought and sold, or transferred to others. Individuals may also purchase more than one membership.

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Members will have preferred tee times, even on weekends.

The club president, Tipperary man Phil O’Meara, said the $10,000 for membership is a one-time payment. “Afterward, you will belong to a club with reduced green fees, you will have equity, a say and a vote in the running of the whole operation, and there will be no annual dues or fees.”

“The golf course, club house and proposed amenities can only increase the value of the property and therefore the value of your membership,” according to a statement from IGA Corp.

The Irish Golf Association, with an address of P.O. Box 896, New York, NY 10023, currently has more than 175 paid-up members. On June 10, it closed on the purchase of a 200-acre property in Union Vale for $600,000 after receiving a special-use permit in May to construct the golf course.

Financing for the project, as well as custodial services for all IGA Corp. funds, is being handled by Country Bank.

The land

The property, part of an estate, was originally cattle and farm land. Two public hearings have already been held in Union Vale, a special-use earth-moving permit has been obtained, as has an arch’ology report, a change-of-use permit authorizing a change from agriculture to golf course, and required approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for work bordering on adjacent wetlands. “Every study that had to be done has been done,” said Galwayman Brendan Hynes, co-chairman of the building committee.

The chairmen hope to start work on building the first nine holes next month.

The layout of the course has been designed by Stephen Kay Golf Course Architects, which has an office in Bronxville, N.Y. Many of the designs of the holes for the proposed course are based on golf courses in Ireland. A few years ago, Stephen Kay Golf Course Architects designed the Links of North Dakota on a similar site outside Williston. Golf magazine, in its August 1997 issue, described that course as “one of the purest expressions of links-style golf ever conceived outside of Scotland.”

IGA Corp. is setting out to establish what will be the first Irish golf course in New York. Hynes said that there were 17 Irish golf clubs in New York and for many years they were saying the Irish should have a place of their own. Eventually, a number of New York Irish golf clubs came together to form IGA Corp. in the summer of 1996.

Now, that the land has been obtained, IGA Corp. is seeking the support of all Irish golf clubs and golfers in the region to make the dream of an Irish course a success. Hynes pointed out that even some people who are not golfers had already bought memberships in the new club.

Hynes said he felt the real impetus for the idea came from the clubs. “They get pushed around,” he said. “I have belonged to Woodlawn Golf Club for 25 years and we have played on six courses.”

Hynes also said he feels the time is now right to pursue the project because of the popularity of golf. “There seems to be a lot of Irish people playing golf,” he said. “We envision it would be an Irish-style golf course, where you will come in and know everybody else. The fact that you know everyone in the clubhouse will be the best part of this whole thing.”

He added that the IGA Corp. would be electing directors who would be responsible for putting together a management committee to manage the course. “They will have to have experience in running a golf course,” Hynes said. The estimated annual cost of running a course is between $400,000 and $500,000, he said.

“We expect this to be predominantly Irish, but we are quite prepared to welcome Irish people’s friends as well,” O’Meara said. “We also want to invite people from around Union Vale to become members.”

O’Meara added that the idea had only reached this point “because of the work of the officers and the committee.”

The current officers of IGA Corp are: president, Phil O’Meara; vice president Tom Fitzpatrick; treasurer, Tony Brady; secretary, Dermot McGahern; membership secretary, Eddie Donohue.

Pat Costigan is co-chairman of the permit and golf course committee, and Brendan Hynes is co-chairman of the building committee.

The finance committee consists of Liam Gleeson, Tony Dunleavy, Tom O’Farrell, Phil Denning, Eddie Donohue, Noel Lennon and Connie Smith.

For information on the new club, leave name and message at (212) 561-0326.

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