Everyone should give back to the game in some way

Bernie McGuire
Bernie McGuire

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Tuesday 5th of December marks International Day of the Volunteer. Without the work of approximately 200 ILGU volunteers, Women’s and Girls’ Golf in Ireland would look very different.

One area of significant importance to the ILGU is Junior Development, it is important to the Union that developing players are catered for and given options for personal progression.

Alongside the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) and with support from the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) the Golf4Girls4Life Framework was created. This framework marks the beginning of a pathway for Junior Girls’ golf. The overarching aim of the framework is to map the progression of girls from beginner level, through to achieving a handicap of 35, at an appropriate rate for them as individuals.

Girls may then develop at their club with their PGA Professional or personal coach, next stepping up to Regional Coaching and competing at the ILGU District and National underage events and Championships. From there, and if they so wish, girls can aim to follow in the footsteps of our elite International Players and become High Performance Athletes.

Throughout all mentioned programmes from grassroots to elite performance, Volunteers are assisting to “Grow the Game, Beat the Competition” – the Player Development Vision of the ILGU.

Mary Kinsella, Chairman of Junior Development in Mid Leinster briefly tasted the game aged 10 but didn’t properly begin playing until the age of 36. Now with a handicap of 8 playing at Tullamore, she has Golfer of the Year and Captain’s Prize titles to her name. Originally volunteering within the club, Mary saw the opportunity to inspire the next generation of golfers through the Mid Leinster District. The Junior Development Committee (JDC) now consists of eight hardworking individuals who run events for all levels from fun scramble days to district championships and training.

“I remember those who helped and worked with me at various different sports over the years and so now my turn has come around,” explained Mary. “Volunteering with the ILGU allows me to meet lots of new people and I have formed friendships from that. The work we do involves lots of communication but the benefit we see makes it worthwhile!”

In the Connacht District, Maureen Leonard-Dodd, a teacher from Enniscrone Golf Club, got into golf as an adult in 2003 when she was invited to participate in organised ladies golf lessons by the then Lady Captain. Since then she has become a key component in the development of Girls’ Golf both in Enniscrone and Connacht.

“As my daughters became interested in the game, I saw the need for an organised programme at Club level and got involved. I was invited to join the ILGU District Executive and began to volunteer in Junior Golf at District level. I enjoy the game of golf myself and I want it to be the best experience for juniors of all ages and abilities so they in turn will enjoy and promote the game among their families and friends”.

A familiar face and name to anyone who began in Junior Golf in East Leinster, Margaret Tucker has been an ILGU Volunteer since 2007. Taking up the game at the age of 20, she is a past St. Anne’s Lady Captain. Now retired from her role in the HSE, she has been part of her club social and ladies committee, the East Leinster District Executive and currently the District JDC.

“Everyone should give something back, volunteering in Junior Golf has given me a sense of satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfilment. It keeps my mind active, all retiree’s should keep active and try volunteering for something!”

Just three of the 35 members of JDC’s across the country, these ladies have inspired many to continue playing the game for life.

Junior Development Committee Volunteer Profiles
Name: Maureen Leonard Dodd
Golf Club: Enniscrone Golf Club
Handicap: 16
Occupation: Teacher
Most Memorable Golfing Achievement: Winning the two day Kennedy Open Tournament in Enniscrone.
Favourite Golf Course: Apart from Ennisrone! – Links: Portrush; Parkland: Mount Wolsley
Hobbies outside Golf: Travel, drama, reading, cooking
What has volunteering in junior golf given you? A sense of making a difference and a sense of satisfaction that, together with other volunteers we have nurtured a ‘love of the game’ for a wide variety of ages and abilities.
What does volunteering with the ILGU involve? Promoting engagement in the game at Club level, district level and national level. Supporting Junior Convenors at Club level to develop junior programmes & network with other Clubs. Organising & delivering district development/training programmes.

Name:  Margaret Tucker
Golf Club: St. Anne’s
Handicap: 35
Occupation:  Retired HSE
Most Memorable Golfing Achievement: Winning the Lady Captain’s Prize in our Jubilee Year 1996 and winning the O’Grady Cup in 1998
Favourite Golf Course:  St. Anne’s
Dream Fourball (with anyone alive or dead):  Henrik Stenson, Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne
Hobbies outside Golf: Bridge, flower arranging
What has volunteering in junior golf given you? Satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfilment

Name:  Mary Kinsella
Golf Club: Tullamore
Handicap: 8
Occupation:  Self-employed Accounts /Bookkeeping
Age you started playing golf and how: age 10 for one summer and then at 36 yrs of age.
Most Memorable Golfing Achievement: Golfer Year in 2012 including Captains Prize.
Favourite Golf Course: Woodenbridge
Dream Fourball (with anyone alive or dead):  Catriona Matthew/Leona Maguire/Padraig Harrington.
Hobbies outside Golf: golf only at this point!

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