Sport Ireland has committed a total of €200,000 to Team Ireland Golf in a move warmly welcomed by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland.
Grants worth €130,000 have been allocated to 12 emerging professionals with Gavin Moynihan and Stephanie Meadow (pictured above) receiving the largest individual grants of €20,000 each.
Additionally, 32 starts on the European Challenge Tour have been secured with 27 already allocated among eight players.
The objective of the Team Ireland Golf Scheme is to support golfers who have the potential to become established players on the main international tours, such as the European Tour and US PGA Tour.
It is designed to provide support, both financial and non-financial, to selected young professional golfers to help them succeed at international level.
With regard to the Scheme’s eligibility rules, 2017 was the first year where an ‘earnings cap’ was introduced for players applying for support. Players that won over €250,000 in total prize money in the season immediately prior are not eligible to receive financial support through the Scheme. These players are still eligible to receive non-financial support.
“Sport Ireland is delighted to invest in Team Ireland Golf, which is continuing to help Ireland’s top amateur golfers transition into the professional game,” said Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy.
“Today’s investment supports, along with the vast experience and expertise of the Team Ireland Golf Leader Des Smyth, means that we now have a strong system in place which will ensure Ireland continues to produce world-class golfers long into the future.”
“It is incumbent on Team Ireland to focus on these young, talented players and our ambition is to help them progress on to the main professional tours,” said Smyth.
“Playing on a professional tour is not cheap. We are trying to prepare these players to make the grade. It does not happen instantly. It takes a few years.”
Smyth led a fundraising drive during 2017 and the success of the first ever Team Ireland Golf Pro-Am, has resulted in a funding increase of €40,000.
Team Ireland Golf was established in 1999 and with three new players joining the funding scheme in 2018, it brings to 100 the total number of players who have received support.
The three newcomers are John Ross Galbraith, Stuart Grehan and Conor O’Rourke. All three players turned professional in 2017 and will benefit from grants worth €6,000 each plus a minimum of four starts on the European Challenge Tour.
“The playing invitations for the European Challenge Tour events are the most important element for the players,” added Smyth. “The invitations provide a stepping stone for the players to try and make their mark.”
“From my understanding, a lot of players just would not be able to continue without these grants,” said Smyth. “The grants are important because when you have some financial support it frees up more of your time to focus on your golf.”
As well as providing direct funding for players, the Confederation of Golf in Ireland makes a significant investment in the Irish Challenge – one of two Challenge Tour events on Irish soil.
It is through this investment that Team Ireland secure playing invitations for other events on the European Challenge Tour. This year’s Irish Challenge takes place at Concra Wood in October.
Through Sport NI’s investment in the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle in August there are eight starts available for Team Ireland players at that event.
Brian Casey, Jack Hume, Gary Hurley and Neil O’Briain – recently crowned rookie of the year on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa – will also receive starts through Team Ireland in 2018.
Cormac Sharvin, who has playing rights on the European Challenge Tour this season, has been awarded a grant of €18,000. Ruaidhri McGee has been awarded a grant of €12,000 for what will be his fifth season.
As part of the Team Ireland support package, all golfers can avail of the practice facilities at the GUI’s National Golf Academy.
A coaching base has also been established at Quinta do Lago in Portugal through the work of Des Smyth. The resort’s facilities are now available to players during the winter months.
More than €3.625m has been provided to members of Team Ireland Golf during the last 19 years. Team Ireland Golf was established in 1999 to assist Irish golfers, both male and female, in the early stages of their professional careers on tour. Players such as Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne and Michael Hoey have benefitted from grant support in the past.
Join us for a special Business of Cycling Breakfast in Dublin on April 11th when we will hear the inspiring story of Peter Ryan’s journey from Tipperary to Rio and explore the possibilities that cycling offers to individuals and the Business community. Find out more here.
Image Credit: Golffile.