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GOLF in Clare is experiencing its greatest upswing in fortunes in recent memory, according to Padraig McGrath of P&M Golf Superstores, Clare’s largest golf shop.

P&M Golf strives to improve its offering each year and has most recently opened a new dedicated swing room as interest in the sport witnesses an explosion in interest nationwide. Proprietor Padraig – a PGA professional – says that despite being forced to close for four months earlier this year due to Covid-19 Government restrictions, sales have since increased an unprecedented amount. He also says that anecdotally, many clubs in the region have gained up to 200 members in the last year.

“You couldn’t have foreseen it but thankfully it did [happen] and that seems to have continued in the last few months,” he reveals. “The good thing in our industry is when people go back playing, they normally stick with it. Hopefully people realise going forward there is more to life than just working.” That last remark is a nod to the impact the global pandemic has had on our lives. Padraig is of the belief that many have had the opportunity to reflect on their work-life balance and sees more people reassessing their priorities, one being enjoying themselves more.

“I think the virus has changed people’s mentality, people are thinking, ‘I’m working too hard, too long hours, I’m working to live’ instead of living their best lives. So it was the reset button that golf needed for everyone to realise that life is short.

“You hear a lot about people’s mental health these days and that’s something I’d love to get across, how good golf is for people’s mental health. You’re out in the open with nature and it’s one sport that I’ve found over the years, if you’ve had a bad day at work or anything at all, I go for a couple of holes and it’s like a reset button, you’re completely refreshed after it. It’s been a huge lift to a lot of people out there, you’re getting exercise and also you’re getting to meet people”.

Having been inspired by the golf superstores on a visit to the US, the former accountant opened P&M in March 2004 aged 24 with his father and Martin Ward. Based at Westgate Business Park on the Kilrush Road, it’s an impressive one-stop-shop that covers every aspect of the sport including custom fittings, lessons, golf bags, travel covers and all the usual accessories, while most items can be ordered in within days due to Padraig’s web of contacts in the golf industry worldwide.

While Padraig notes that many people are returning to the game, there are newcomers whose interest was peaked last year as golf was among the first sports to return to play following the first stringent lockdown measures. During this time, Padraig was upgrading the huge showroom.

“During lockdown we had the opportunity to build a new swing room. When somebody comes in for an appointment, the one thing I want to do is make them a better golfer. Sometimes that’s through lessons, sometimes it’s through changing golf clubs. Sometimes someone comes in for a fitting, I might end up doing a lesson because to improve that individual it might be 90 per cent from lesson and 10 per cent from changing clubs. And also, if you give someone a lesson and improve their golf swing it will affect the clubs they’re about to buy. I’m just trying to get them to be the best golfer they can be so they can enjoy it to the maximum.”

Newbies to the sport can usually pick up a beginner box set from €399, which includes woods, irons, putter and the bag however a worldwide shortage exists due to demand, with Padraig noting these will come back into stock in time for Christmas.

“Customer satisfaction is our key, we’re constantly striving to be better. We do match online prices so nobody can accuse us of being overly expensive because we do price match and if we are slightly dearer than somebody else we’ll try and compete with their prices,” adds the Quin resident.

For all enquiries, call P&M Golf Superstore on (065) 684 0844.

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