Kerryman, who built JP McManus’s acclaimed Ryder Cup course at Edre Manor, has revealed that his company won a contract to provide Russia with its first public golf course.
Nathony Bennett stated that his company, Atlantic Golf Construction (AGC), had opened an office in Moscow, but had to abandon the project following the invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Bennett is looking forward to meeting the world’s top golfers, due in Adare for next week’s JP McManus Pro-Am, to get an idea of what the AGC has built on the manor’s 170-acre grounds along the Mag River. got his opinion.
Mr Bennett, who left school at the age of 16, said: “We were selected to build the course by JP McManus, who was working on the design of Tom Fazio, the world’s top golf course designer.”
With a workforce of over 150, the AGC team moved to the site in March 2015.
Mr. Bennett said: “It is the largest golf course completed in Europe in the last 10 years and is one of the best courses in the world. The fact that it has been selected to host the Ryder Cup in 2027, it It is the biggest seal of acceptance any course can get.
“While we were working on the site, Tom Marzolf, Tom Fazio’s design assistant, was with us all the way.”
Laying fairways and greens involved shaping 800,000 tons of earth into a carefully curated and neat corner of Co Limerick. 5,000 saplings were planted from Germany and another 50 mature trees were transplanted.
“AGC has been placed at the forefront of golf course construction companies worldwide to receive the contract from JP McManus,” said Mr. Bennett.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80 AGC workers were ‘stranded’ in Spain, where they were rebuilding and improving the San Roque golf resort on the Costa del Sol.
Mr Bennett said: “Along with our own team, we had specialist contractors on site from different parts of Europe and they were there for seven consecutive months due to travel closures.”
AGC has built courses in France, Norway, Italy, the UK and Barbados and is due to begin work on the Jack Nicklaus Signature course in Aberdeen, Scotland on 11 July.
“I’ve been to the site and am going to meet Jack soon,” said Mr. Bennett.
The company is also working on a major upgrade to the trolley golf course.
However, the war in Ukraine ended the €20m contract for the construction of Russia’s first public golf course.
Mr Bennett (45) said: “We were very excited about moving east to Russia because of the huge interest in golf from TV coverage.
“There are no courses out there for people to go out and learn to play golf and enjoy the sport. Obviously there is a massive beginning to golf in Russia and there is demand.
“There are about 20 courses across Russia, but these are exclusive, privately operated operations.
“We had the contract to build the largest golf course in Russia which, upon completion, would have been open to the public, and we had an office set up in Moscow and a team ready to go.
“The company’s plan behind the project was to open golf to the public. We were about to begin work on the site last St. Patrick’s Day. All that has happened is a golf accident.”
Off the golf course, the AGC has built an extensive showjumping arena in Dunboyne for Olympic medalist Sean O’Connor.
“I brought a load of stone from Kerry to the stone wall barrier, and I asked Cyan to name it Kerry’s. He said ‘KerryGold’ – that was the butter brand originated by Sir Anthony O’Reilly, Cyan’s godfather are,” he said.
AGC is currently working on a massive outdoor athletics facility in South Dublin that will be completed in August.
Mr. Bennett founded the AGC in 2014 with his older brother, Donald, in his native Ballybunyan.
“I left the local secondary school when I was 16 and moved to New York, where I drove a van for a construction company,” he said. “I came back three years later and rented Mickey Joe’s Pub in Ballybunion, which I now own.
“My father was working with machines at golf clubs and I decided to go to specialist golf course work with Donald. We went knocking on golf clubs’ doors and asked to work on course maintenance.
“We got the job done in the Ballybunion and the trolley, upgrading the tees. Our first major job was replacing the greens on the Old Course at Ballybunion. It required great precision and we got experts to work with us. After that Proceed from there.
“I think I’ve always had a strong work ethic. I remember when I was about nine, we had a piebald donkey that I brought to the beach every day, and donkeys would ride the kids. When If the business was good, I used to earn about five rupees a day.
“As I got older, I started caddying on golf links. Along with earning money, it also sharpened my golfing skills and now I make up for two, which is bad considering my workload. Not there. “
Mr Bennett said he looked forward to welcoming the great Tom Watson back to Ballybunion this summer.
“Tom Watson put the Bollybunian on the golfing map after his first visit in 1981. Since then he has visited his routine every year on the way to the British Open.
“Not only did he play Ballybunian, but he’s always been a local at The Marine Hotel. Tom loves meeting locals he’s known for years. He was made the club’s captain in 2000.”