Patients Putting Green

Brian Keogh reports on the Patients Putting Green at St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar

IRELAND boasts myriad wonderful golf facilities but you would be hard-pressed to find one that has such a positive impact on people’s lives as the patients’ putting green at St. Luke’s Hospital in Dublin. The primary national centre for radiotherapy treatment, the hospital which opened in 1952, was founded by the Cancer Association of Ireland and remains a hugely important facility to this day. Families all over Ireland who have been touched by the disease will be more than familiar with the great work carried out at St Luke’s, which is hidden away in the leafy suburbs of Rathgar and Dartry. Its financing remains one of the great challenges of the Irish health system but thanks to the efforts of the volunteers in the Friends of St Luke’s, more than €1 million a year is raised to provide patients with all the services they need. Since 2003, those services have included a patients’ putting green, and it has proved to be an invaluable amenity for those under going long-term treatment. Many stay on site at the Lodge and thanks to the efforts of a former patient, Pádraig Harring ton’s late father Paddy; they can get out in the fresh air with friends, family or other patients for a few hours of relax ation and golfing distraction. Walk through the reception of the Lodge and you will find an array of putters and some chipping clubs in the door way and just 25 yards beyond lies the magnificent, 800 sq. m putting green that Harrington senior was determined to see built. Putting green at St Luke’s is proving an in valuable amenity for those in treatment. By Brian Keogh When putting is a game for patients Irish Independent · 8 Feb 2018 2/9/2018 When putting is a game for patients  It is situated on what was once the old tennis court and croquet green and opened by the Ryder Cup player some 15 years ago with the help of generous benefactors and the design skills of Jeff Howes. “Paddy was a patient there and there was an old bowling green so he thought the hospital could do some thing for the patients,” recalled Paddy’s widow, Breda. “I have often wondered how the green was doing and I am just thrilled to hear it is so well looked after and so popular with the patients. It’s great to see that even if someone is sick, they can get out and have a putt. I know Paddy would be very pleased in deed.” The Friends of St Luke’s pays for the up keep of the green, and it is ironic that the man charged with giving the putting surface the year-round, tender loving care is married to se nior women’s international Ger tie McMullen, the daughter of their co-founder. “Gertie’s late father, Prof. Michael O’Halloran, established the Friends of St Luke’s in 1981,” said Dubliner Fraser McMullen, whose Sports ground and Field Services company looked after Croke Park and Donnybrook and serviced many golf clubs before it closed in the wake of the most recent economic down turn. “He was the former medical director of St Luke’s Hospital and a really great man. “The green is a great facility for patients to have. Otherwise they would be just waiting in their room all day, so it’s great to see. Nobody likes being in hospital, so it is nice they have this in their lives.” Fraser is himself recovering from serious illness, having suffered a brain haemorrhage last April. But he is now back into his daily routine at St Luke’s, where he has seen dozens of patients take to the game with gusto. “I see people out there putting who had never picked up a golf club in their lives before,” he explained. “I tell guys, ‘Go in and grab a putter and have a go.’ And I come back a week later, and they’ll say, ‘Thanks very much for that – we were out there for hours!’ It keeps the mind active, which is important. “This is my sixth year looking after the green I could be out at 5 am on a summer’s morning watering and find two or three patients out there when I arrive. “They stay in the Lodge from Monday to Friday, get the bug, and there they are – putting away. “It is a huge help to many patients, especially when families come with children to visit.” Team matches are frequent with the beginners among the ladies challenging the men to take them on last year, provided they wore oven gloves to even the odds. “It is used a lot,” said Fiona Campbell, a spokesperson for the Friends of St Luke’s. “A patient might only have treatment for half an hour and then have the rest of the day free. So if they are feeling well enough, they can head out to the putting green, walk in the grounds or visit the arts centre. “When families come, children are out on the green, and it’s wonderful to see. It’s an extra facility for the hospital.” The Friends of St Luke’s tries to raise as much as €1 million every year, using the funds to improve the lives of the patients. New wheel chairs and rooms for relatives are key items, and they are now in the process of re furbishing the pharmacy hav ing just put in two new lifts, and re conditioned the original lift from the 1950s. “Last year we opened a children’s play area and a chill-out room for adolescents,” Fiona added. “Before that, there was no child-friendly in door space for children as they waited for their treatment or while being monitored post-treatment. “Our target is to raise €1 million a year among the families of the patients and friends so our next big goal is to put in an MRI, which might take a few years.” Golfers looking to do their bit for St Luke’s Hospital can tee it up in the Friends of St Luke’s Annual Golf Classic, which is played in the Castle Golf Club each year.  Contact for further information