It was a landmark weekend for Irish Golf after votes at separate meetings held today, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland have formally approved the establishment of Golf Ireland.
This means for the first time ever that the sport will have a single governing body, regardless of gender.
The result of both votes is the outcome of a three-year process of discussion and consultation between the two Unions, internally with their respective clubs and regional bodies, and externally with key national and international stakeholders.
The vote for change was overwhelming with 100 per cent of the ILGU clubs saying yes and 94 per cent of those affiliated to the GUI.
Throughout the consultation period, the benefits of the change have been acknowledged in terms of attracting funding and commercial partners, as well as providing a boost for the image of the game.
Once established, Clubs will only have to deal with one body when it comes to handicapping, inter-club events, club supports and game development.
A transition period will immediately commence, with the intention for this to culminate with the first AGM and regional meetings of Golf Ireland happening in the final quarter of 2020, paving the way for the organisation to ‘go live’ on 1 January 2021.
The transition period will involve the organisation taking shape through the creation of a regional and national structure and the drawing up of rules and processes to underpin the activities of the organisation, all overseen by a CEO who will be appointed early in the Transition Period and who will work with a Transitions Team.
The GUI and ILGU will continue to operate through the Transition Period with the transfer of functions and staff to Golf Ireland prior to the ‘go live’ date for the new organisation.
“We are delighted with the outcome of the votes at our respective meetings, and thank everyone who has given this proposal their support,” said Clodagh Hopkins and Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh in a joint statement issued by the respective chairs of the two organisations.
“Bringing two strong organisations, the ILGU and GUI together to create a stronger, more influential organisation, Golf Ireland, will not only enhance golf in Ireland but will enhance Irish golf worldwide.”
“The result today indicates that members of both Unions are in support of creating a new organisation which will be built around promoting core principles of equality, diversity, inclusion and excellence.”
“The result today is a validation of the work put in by everyone involved. The input which has been received from our member clubs, our staff and volunteers, and everyone else who has in some way contributed to the final proposal should be recognised.”
“The result of their efforts will be a new dynamic organisation, charged with the promotion of the game of golf, with a commitment to excellence and inclusivity.”
The move brings Golf into line with all other sports in Ireland with the exception of the GAA, Camogie Association and Ladies Gaelic Football who all operate as seperate governing bodies. They are technically different sports but this move will increase external pressure to review the advantages of a single body to govern Gaelic Games given the use of the same facilities and in most cases the same club structures.
It was also celebrated in fine style when Shane Lowry won the HSBC World Championship in Abu Dhabi. The win lands him hist first win since 2015 as well as a bump into the Top 50 World Rankings which if sustained could see him compete in the US Masters in April.
All in all a winning weekend for Golf.