The Irish Ladies Golf Union approved a special resolution at their AGM, while simultaneously the Golfing Union of Ireland passed a motion at a Special General Meeting.
In the case of the GUI, for the first time in its history postal voting was permitted, and 292 of the Union's 395 clubs availed of this facility. A further 34 clubs attended and voted at the meeting. 269 clubs attended the ILGU AGM to cast their vote. RESULTS GUI RESULT 94% in favour of the proposal ILGU RESULT 100% in favour of the proposal
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. It will mean the game of golf in Ireland will now, for the first time, have an all-inclusive governing body. Throughout the consultation period, the benefits of this 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 transitions period will involve the organisation taking shape through 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.
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRPERSONS OF THE ILGU AND GUI BOARDS "We are delighted with the outcome of the votes at our respective meetings, and thank everyone who has given this proposal their support. "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." Clodagh Hopkins, Chairman of the Board of the Irish Ladies Golf Union Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, Chairman of the Board of the Golfing Union of Ireland
The Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland have, since November 2015 been discussing the potential establishment of One Governing Body for Golf in Ireland, to be named Golf Ireland.
The Discussions Group (DG) was established and has four representatives from each organisation. Meetings have been facilitated by Jane Williams, Sia Partners who has knowledge of the workings of each organisation.
Discussions Group Members Frank Bowen - Golfing Union of Ireland Teresa Byrne – Irish Ladies Golf Union Pat Finn – Golfing Union of Ireland Sinead Heraty – Irish Ladies Golf Union Brege McCarrick – Irish Ladies Golf Union John Power – Golfing Union of Ireland Ethel Ruddock – Irish Ladies Golf Union Kevin Stevens – Golfing Union of Ireland Facilitator Jane Williams – Sia Partners Project Manager Sarah Crowe
Why are ILGU and GUI proposing to establish Golf Ireland? The creation of one governing body for golf will make it easier to promote the game. It will project a clear and consistent message that golf in Ireland is inclusive, contemporary in its approach and in keeping with modern societal views, while continuing to be healthy, challenging and fun. Ireland is the only country in the world that still has two separate governing bodies for golf, divided along gender lines. Membership numbers in clubs are challenging and the appeal of golf in Ireland, indeed as in the rest of the world, continues to decline. We need to do everything in our power to encourage participation by both men and women, boys and girls. Golf in Ireland was thriving in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, with approximately 220,000 people holding membership of affiliated clubs and playing the game. Over the last decade that number has fallen by nearly 40,000, as current membership numbers show 183,000 golfers as members of GUI and ILGU clubs.
What are the benefits that Golf Ireland will bring? Golf Ireland will have one vision and one strategy, for both men and women, to lead golf into the future. There will be increased emphasis on support and services for the member clubs of Golf Ireland. Family-friendly initiatives and promoting an inclusive environment will be at the forefront of Golf Ireland’s objectives. The aim of these initiatives will be to help attract more people to the game, to support ongoing harmonious relations in our clubs the length and breadth of the country, and to have families say as a group that “this is a sport for us.” This will inevitably heighten interest among commercial sponsors and Government bodies, as golf will be a more attractive proposition. Golf Ireland will work tirelessly to ensure the future is bright for the game of golf in Ireland.
What is Golf Ireland’s stance on equality? Golf Ireland will seek to ensure that clubs treat all members fairly and that rights and entitlements are determined by membership categories and not by gender.
Can I just continue to play my golf? Of course, the change will not adversely impact on golfers’ enjoyment of the game. Clubs can continue to run their own competitions for members and visitors, as they currently do, with both men’s competitions and ladies’ competitions. Golf Ireland will provide guidance and support to clubs and best practice guidelines, as our sport moves to embrace a more modern culture.
Will the affiliation fee be the same for men and women in Golf Ireland and if so, what will that fee be? Yes, a single affiliation fee will be in place for both men and women, and a lower rate will be in place for junior golfers. The affiliation fee will be paid by each club to Golf Ireland for every club member. The adult fee will be €24 in Ireland and £20 in Northern Ireland. The junior fee will be €5 and £3.50. These amounts will be fixed for the first two years of Golf Ireland.