SPOTLIGHT

Liam Murphy worked his way to the very top of the Irish golf industry after taking a career break with the bank

By Katie Lowry

Liam Murphy, winner of the IGTOA 2019 Golf Manager of the year award said, “when I saw the names of those who had been awarded it in the past, it really began to sink in how truly special it was.”

This was the culmination of a lifetime involvement in golf, mostly as a player until later, moving into various administrative roles. 

Growing up just outside Navan, Liam and his siblings were introduced to golf at a very early age when they became members of Royal Tara Golf Club. By age 15, the club had employed its first professional, Adam Whiston which benefited the Murphy clan greatly. Adam’s passion for junior golf and excellent tuition guided the Murphys into competitive club and inter club levels.

While unaware of it at the time the most consequential decision Murphy made was to take a career break from Bank of Ireland back in 2001. Liam’s intention was to return to the bank after 2 years but an offer to work in a more independent setting in financial services meant that never materialised.

In the meantime, Liam was Honorary Treasurer for 5 years of Royal Tara and was then elected Captain in 2006, the Club’s Centenary Year. 

The variety of experience at voluntary level sparked an abundance of interest in a full time role in golf so Liam could hardly believe it when towards the end of 2006 the Leinster Branch of the GUI advertised the position of Tournament Secretary for which his application was successful. This was the turning point that ultimately led to Liam’s move to County Louth Golf club some years later.

A general manager in a golf club works under the direction of the main committee whilst also guiding and advising them making it possible to bring one’s own ideas, flair and personality to the job, Murphy says. 

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While there are many operational issues to be managed on a daily basis, similar to managing a bank branch, Murphy says “there is an opportunity to be involved in strategic decision making and in mapping out the club’s future.”

Changing career paths was a risky road for Murphy at times as he thought about the worry of leaving behind a job and an organisation where he had spent 20 enjoyable and successful years. There was also a great sense of collegiality among staff in the bank and Liam enjoyed many great friendships that have endured.

“Back in those days all our parents wanted us to have good pensionable jobs and here I was seemingly throwing it all away.” However, the economy was strong, and it was an exciting but nervous time for Liam as he debated whether he  could be successful in a different area of expertise.

Liam feels extremely fortunate that the same time he decided to pursue a full-time role in golf, a fantastic opportunity arose at Leinster Golf. “A case of right place, right time.”

After a thoroughly enjoyable 5 years in tournament and coaching administration, the opportunity arose to manage County Louth golf club and as they say, “the rest is history.”

On the back of the honour of IGTOA golf manager of the year, Liam described any recognition within your own industry and from peers as a tremendous personal honour and emphasised the honour is  affirmation that the work done at County Louth to service their members, tour operators and all their visiting golfers is not going unnoticed.

“I have been very humbled by the reaction of the Committee and members at County Louth from whom I have received so many words of congratulations. I would like to think that by winning the award it has also helped put the Club’s name out front and centre within the golf community.”

When asked about the qualities recognised to receive this award Liam said, “perhaps you need to direct that question to the  IGTOA!”

County Louth Clubhouse Panorama_1

County Louty Louth Golf Club

He would like to think that the development of strong personal and professional relationships with the many members of IGTOA has been a significant factor.

“I try to ensure that the service they receive from the Club is second to none and that I am personally available to solve any issues they face in delivering for their clients.”

Murphy describes County Louth golf club as a magnificent golf course, but what gives it special appeal is how fair and enjoyable it is with so many unique qualities. The course at Baltray is set up so that afterwards players “feel up-beat, not beat up.”

 “Add to that the sense of history throughout the clubhouse, great food, and the warm welcome from members and you will find it difficult to get a better golfing experience on this island.”

There is nothing better to promote a sport than high achievement at national and international level, particularly when it attracts the media spotlight. "We all love heroes and role models.”

While Irish golf has faced many challenges in the past 10 years due to the economic downturn, there is still a very high rate of participation in terms of golfers and golf clubs per capita of population.

Murphy believes “this is due in no small measure to the success and profile of our Major champions, starting with Padraig Harrington back in 2007 and culminating in Shane Lowry’s incredible win at Portrush last year.”

In common with many other sports, Baltray wants to increase their female participation and Liam is hopeful that Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow’s participation on the LPGA tour will garner greater attention for women’s golf and encourage more to get involved in the game.

Climate change will also have a huge impact on golf courses in the coming years. The manager of Baltray says “thankfully because the course sits on sand, we have less concerns than parkland courses regarding  the wetter conditions expected as the planet warms up.”

Liam described the flip side of this as like most links courses they worry about coastal erosion. At Baltray , the club has been fortunate that most of the course is protected from the sea by high dunes that have escaped significant erosion. However, they have witnessed damage caused by the recent storms, so it is a situation County Louth Golf club must keep under constant review.

This is one of the many challenges that Liam will face over the coming years as he continues to ensure that Baltray remains in the forefront of Irish golf courses both for its members, young and old, and its visitors.

With a manager like Liam Murphy who’s on top of his game, the club is undoubtedly in safe hands.

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