I became aware of problems in Killarney Golf Club a few days when I heard that head professional David Keating was leaving after his contract was not renewed.  Given that David is probably the most universally loved pro in Ireland I sensed something untoward might be at play here.

Then todays Kerry's Eye carried details of a "scathing report" by auditors Deloitte which highlighted several issues and shortcomings, laying the blame firmly on the club's Management Council; the very people who commissioned it.

After speaking to several members and hearing much the same story over and over, I finally convinced one to put the general feeling of the members in an email, on condition of anonymity.

Dear Donal,

I am a proud member in Killarney Golf and Fishing Club and it is not easy to say this but we have a big problem in our club.  Our professional David Keating is leaving next week and I believe he is not going to another club. Every one of us is shocked and very disappointed to see him go and its clear something must be very wrong for him to leave as I know he loves working in our club. This news came out of the blue.

Let me tell you about our pro. David always has a smile on his face and his warm welcome for members and visitors is legendary in Killarney. He helped us out when we needed financial support in 2013 and made many sacrifices to help us get back on our feet by taking over the Pro Shop, the shop in town and he also looked after the buggies. He then took over the caddies and has helped so many players along the way since he arrived from Charleville with his expert coaching and upbeat personality.

Every time you meet him he makes everyone feel welcome and he will be a real loss to us. We can’t believe that he is going and things are definitely not right . An article appeared on the paper this morning in Kerry and it was very critical of the board of management who have caused a lot of problems for our manager Cormac and also for our head greenkeeper Enda. They are two fine men also. It appears that they have been ignored by the council when it comes to running the club and now we are told David is going as his current contract was not renewed. Not only that but his excellent staff are also going and they are very nice to all of us also.

As members the general feeling here is that our big problem stems from the fact that our council is very inexperienced in business and in golf, two of them are almost complete beginners at golf. We had two very good men on the council at the start of the year but they resigned due to the nature of proceedings at meetings. They were then replaced by two more men and they also resigned.

From my personal point of view it looks like our council are operating like a pitch and putt club or a book club where the model is based on volunteerism and they have forgotten about the professionals, management and staff that actually run the club.  It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that when volunteers drive out top professionals, something is very wrong indeed. 

The newspaper article today actually states this based on the Deloitte findings. The whole thing is very sad as Killarney made heavy losses from 2008-2013 and then made strong profits from 2014- 2017 when the currently employed management took over. This year has been much quieter and you can sense the dip in atmosphere and numbers at the course.

Losing our professional David is a disaster and a backward step for the club. The council should have renewed his contract and got him back involved in the marketing of the club as he did when he came here initially.We will rue this mistake for a long time and it's high time the members voices were heard. I think I speak for the vast majority of the members when I say we are now losing all confidence in the council and after today’s revelations and what we are seeing happening in our fine club, it is warranted. An EGM has been called.

If things don’t change fast I fear for Killarney Golf Club.

A Concerned Killarney member

The same member also supplied a copy of David Keating's leaving letter to the members.

Let's hope that some common sense can prevail here and Killarney Golf Club can get back to doing what it does best.

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