Landslide victory for Golf Ireland as historic transition begins

After securing an overwhelming majority, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland have formally approved the establishment of Golf Ireland.

This means that from January 1st 2021, for the first time, Irish golf will have an all-inclusive governing body. The vote wasn’t only passed but it proved a landslide with the ILGU 100% in favour of the proposal while the GUI secured 94% of the vote.

For GUI CEO, Pat Finn, the result provided vindication for a three year project that has received an overwhelming endorsement.

“For anyone who maybe thought that golf clubs were still old fashioned or that the people within them are unwilling to accept change, they have their answer now,” said Finn.

“This result shows that golf clubs in Ireland are progressive and they want to see the game take a big leap forward.”

Indeed Golf Ireland will be a members’ organisation that will look to influence change rather than dictate it but despite securing the required votes, the hard work starts now in terms of building the structures that will ultimately become Golf Ireland.

A transition’s board comprising of nine people, four from both the GUI and ILGU with an independent chairperson will soon start the transition process for two years to build the organisation

“First thing will be to register the company, adopt the memorandum and articles and appointing a CEO,” continued Finn, who hopes to have the new CEO in place no later than halfway through this year. “The transition’s board will look at the branding, website, populating the staffing structure, the regional structures.

“There’s the potential for the CGI functions of club support and golf development to be taken on by Golf Ireland so within the two year transition period it’s definitely possible clubs could start seeing Golf Ireland in operation but there’s still a huge chunk of work to get through.”

Not least will be the location for the Golf Ireland Headquarters, with the ILGU’s current home in Sandyford now in the spotlight.

“Head-office of the new organisation in the short to medium term will be Carton House,” said ILGU CEO Sinead Heraty. “But we have to look at how to bring the current three organisations that exist into one single National Headquarters and I suppose Carton is ideally positioned for that.

“That is going to create an opportunity for the office here in Sandyford but there will be other economic factors that will have to be considered as to when will be the most appropriate time to sell this office.”

With a suite of competitions still to run, neither Heraty or Finn envisage the workload subsiding despite the merge, meaning opportunities for both current and perspective staff should remain abundant. While in terms of our elite panels, where the GUI boasts extensive regional coaching programmes for their 300-350 boys around the country, Golf Ireland should create opportunities to bridge the gap between genders.

“There’ll be opportunities for girls to join some of the regional and provincial coaching panels and to get more support locally,” said Finn.

“Nationally we don’t see a great change but where we can, let’s come together to share; maybe the Men’s squad and the Women’s squad training at the same venue on the same day doing different things but get everyone together in the evening for joint presentations from experts. There’ll be an element of synergy whilst also remaining separate.”

For now though, both CEOs can enjoy what was an historic vote for Irish golf as they look to help shape the future of our great sport with the formation of Golf Ireland.

“It’s wonderful to work for an organisation who have actually agreed to move in this direction,” gushed Heraty. “To be part of a board that has seen what the future should be and absolutely wants to embrace it is extremely exciting.”