Some of Ireland's most prestigious golf clubs have dramatically cut their membership fees in a bid to fight the effects of recession and entice new members.
A Sunday Tribune survey of the country's most expensive clubs shows that eight out of 10 golf courses have either dropped or significantly reduced their entrance fees and annual rates.
Clubs which up to the end of 2009 refused to cut their entrance fees have now conceded that they are in the process of slashing their fees.
These include Greystones Golf Club, whose entrance fee of €16,000 is soon to be cut substantially, and Malahide Golf Club, which has an entrance fee of €17,000 and an annual rate €1,440, both of which are set to be "significantly cut" by November, according to a spokeswoman.
Knightsbrook Golf Club in Trim has also indicated rates are in the process of being reduced.
Other golf clubs have opted to remove the entrance fee altogether in the hope of further attracting new members.
Tulfarris Golf Club in Wicklow, which in 2007 had an entrance fee of €20,000, has now dropped the entire fee. Similarly, South County Golf Club in Brittas which in 2007 charged an entrance fee of €7,500 has decided to drop the charge and also cut their annual rates by €50 to €1,600.
David O'Donovan of the County Sligo Golf Club says that the golfing industry has taken a hard hit in the recession. "It is tough at the moment and there is no doubt about that.
"We have lost two staff members this year to redundancy, and we wish it was otherwise. We have spent the last while looking at how we could get members up and we dropped the entrance fee, and are now getting near our maximum capacity once again."
Some clubs, such as the Powerscourt Golf Club, offer members the option to buy a redeemable preference share, an upfront fee which can later be sold at share value. However, those memberships purchased in the early part of the decade are no longer selling for the same value, says Bernard Gibbons of Powerscourt.
"We offer this option which is attractive because it is not like other entrance fees where you will never get that sum back. You are buying a share in the company and can lease it and sell it down the road, so you will get the money back. That may end up being a little bit less now in this climate."
Séamus Smith, general secretary of the Golfing Union of Ireland, says the reductions represent welcome news for the Irish public.
"A lot of people who have families or mortgages or are always travelling don't have the kind of money some clubs look for, so of course it is welcome that they are cutting the prices and it makes common sense that the more affordable the price, the better chance these clubs will have of gaining members."
Clubbing the green fees - How some of Ireland's leading courses are cutting their rates
South County Golf Club, Brittas Village
2007: Entrance Fee, €7,500. Annual Rate, €1,650
2010: No Entrance fee. Annual Rate, €1,600
Royal Tara Golf Club
2007: Entrance Fee, €9,500. Annual Rate, €960
2010: Entrance Fee, €4,000. Annual Rate, €1,142
Greystones Golf Club
2007: Entrance fee, €16,000. Annual rate: €1,500
2010: Entrance fee set to be cut in next few weeks. Annual rate, €1,500
Malahide Golf Club
2007: Entrance fee, €17,000. Annual rate €1,440
2010: Both prices set to be "significantly reduced" and announced shortly
Co Sligo Golf Club
2007: Entrance fee, €2,000. Annual rate, €850
2010: No entrance fee. Annual rate, €983
Powerscourt Golf Club
2007: Entrance fee, €50,000 redeemable preference share. Annual rate, €2,479
2010: Negotiable redeemable share, from €20,000 upwards. Annual rate, €2,609.75
Kileen Golf Club, Kildare
2007: No Entrance Fee. Annual Rate, €1,200
2010: No entrance fee. Annual rate €1,350
Corballis Golf Club, Donabate
2007: Entrance Fee, €2,500. Annual rate, €585
2010: No entrance fee. Annual Rate €750
Tulfarris Golf Club, Wicklow
2007: Entrance fee, €20,000 redeemable preference. Annual rate, €1,500
2010: No entrance fee. Annual rate €1,000
The Island, Donabate
2007: Entrance fee, €13,500. Annual rate: €1,400
2010: No change