Nine months have passed since the historic decision to form Golf Ireland by clubs of the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union. Since then, intensive work has been underway behind the scenes to ensure a smooth implementation of the Golf Ireland Proposal and ultimately, the transition to a new single governing body.
The Transition Board have met eight times since their appointment in March 2019 and are determined to ensure their schedule for Golf Ireland to go live in January 2021 is delivered.
Alongside the tasks of the various Sub Committees, the first Chief Executive of Golf Ireland has been recruited. Mark Kennelly has had a distinguished career in Government and politics and promises to bring a wealth of strategic knowledge to his role. Kennelly will officially begin his tenure in mid-December but has already begun on a part-time basis as CEO Designate.
As mentioned, members of the Golf Ireland Sub Committees cover the following areas:
- Finance and Governance - Branding, Logo and Website - Property and Office Accommodation - Handicapping - Competitions and Tournaments - Models of Club Governance - Organisational Structures - Volunteering
Significant steps taken to date include: - The development and planned launch of the Golf Ireland brand identity, logo and website with The Public House agency - Communication with club delegates at the GUI Provincial ADMs and ILGU District AGMs - The establishment of a volunteering Sub Committee which aims to continue the culture of volunteering at club, regional and national level, something which golf is heavily dependent on - Agreement that the first Regional AGMs of Golf Ireland, attended by clubs, will take place in November 2020. Additionally, in depth consultation regarding Regional structures and zones has taken place with current GUI and ILGU volunteers
While this important transition work is taking place, it is reiterated that, throughout the next 13 months, the GUI and ILGU will continue to operate as normal.
The Confederation of Golf will also be transferring to Golf Ireland as golf club development and club services continue to be a crucial offering of the new body.
Chairperson of the Transition Board Tim O’Connor said: ‘As a group, the Transition Board believe we are building on tremendous foundations based on the great legacy delivered by both Unions over the past 128 years. Some nine months into the transition period, I can report that there is a strong sense of common purpose and a shared determination that together we can and must make the most of this exciting opportunity for golf on the island of Ireland, and deliver on its potential to the full.’
*Members of Transition Board: Tim O’Connor (Chairperson)(Edmondstown)); Pauline Bailie (Belvoir Park); Mary Culliton (The Heath); Ian Kerr (Royal Portrush); Brege McCarrick (Mullingar); Joe McNamara (The Heath); John Power (Portmarnock); Brian Punch (Castletroy); Fiona Scott (Dun Laoghaire).
CEO APPOINTED TO GOLF IRELAND
MARK KENNELLY APPOINTED CEO OF GOLF IRELAND
Following an extensive recruitment process, Mark Kennelly has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer of Golf Ireland. Prior to taking up the role in December 2019 Kennelly will begin engaging with Golf Ireland from mid-October as CEO Designate on a part-time basis, to facilitate his preparations.
Kennelly was Chief of Staff at the Department of the Taoiseach, during the term of Enda Kenny from 2011 to 2017. He is a member of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club in Co. Kerry.
Speaking about the appointment, Tim O’Connor, Chairperson of the Transition Board of Golf Ireland said: “I am delighted with Mark’s appointment. He brings a wealth of experience from the very senior positions he has held in the public and political sectors. His knowledge and understanding of the importance of volunteers from the world of politics will stand him in great stead in Golf Ireland, given the pivotal role they play in our sport.
“Golf on the island of Ireland is moving forward in an exciting and dynamic way, building on its great history and tradition, and having somebody of Mark’s calibre and qualities in such a key leadership role is a tremendous boost to us on that journey.”
“My colleagues on the Transition Board, and also in the GUI and ILGU, are greatly looking forward to working with him in implementing the historic decision of members of the two Unions in January to create one single governing body on the island of Ireland for our great sport.”
Mark Kennelly said: “As we enter a new and exciting era for Irish golf, I am delighted to have the opportunity to play my part in the creation and evolution of Golf Ireland. Building on the remarkable heritage and achievements of the GUI and the ILGU, the new single governing body will ensure that golf will continue to grow and flourish on the island of Ireland in the future.
“I look forward to working closely in the months ahead with the Transition Board, with the officers and staff of the GUI and ILGU, after 1 January 2021 with the Board and other structures of Golf Ireland, and with the very many volunteers who are the lifeblood of golf throughout the island to make these plans a reality.”
O’Connor added: “We are entering a crucial time in the transition period and I am delighted that both Sinead Heraty and Pat Finn will work closely with Mark Kennelly during what will be a lengthy handover process.”
“They have both helped deliver the project to where we are today and I welcome their commitment to ensure we have a smooth transition. I would also like to acknowledge their decisions to pursue other ambitions outside of Golf Ireland in the future and thank them for their integrity and assistance in getting us to this point, a very exciting time for the sport”.
GOLF IRELAND TRANSITION BOARD UPDATE - AUGUST 2019 As you are aware, a Proposal to establish a single governing body for golf in Ireland, to be called Golf Ireland, was approved by GUI and ILGU delegates at meetings held in January 2019. Under the Proposal, it is intended that Golf Ireland will “go live” on 1 January 2021.
In the interim, a Transition Period has been instituted during which the structures and organisation of Golf Ireland are being established. This process is being led by a Transition Board*, comprising four nominees of the GUI and four nominees of the ILGU, with Tim O’Connor as the independent Chairperson. The Transition Board was appointed in February and has been meeting monthly since then.
Vision, Mission and Culture The Transition Board has established the Vision, Mission and Culture for its work which will guide it through the remainder of the Transition Period and into the new body.
Sub-Committees and Transition Board Priorities Work by the Transition Board to implement the Golf Ireland Proposal has commenced in a number of areas and the following Sub Committees have been established: Chief Executive Appointment; Finance and Governance; Branding, Logo and Website; Property and Office Accommodation; Handicapping; Competitions and Tournaments; Models of Club Governance; and Organisational Structures.
A key priority for the Transition Board is the appointment of a Chief Executive of Golf Ireland and an open competition has been instituted in that regard. Once appointed, the task of the Chief Executive in the first instance will be to drive forward the Transition process under the direction of the Transition Board. Further Sub Committees will be appointed by the Transition Board as needed over the coming period.
The Transition Board has liaised with Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland, who welcomed the decision of the GUI and ILGU as well as offering support and encouragement for the new body. Additionally, the Golf Ireland trademark and domain name have been secured.
The Transition Board intend for the Transition Period to culminate with the first AGM and the first Regional meetings of Golf Ireland in the final quarter of 2020, which will pave the way for the new organisation to ‘go live’ on 1 January 2021.
What this means for GUI, ILGU and CGI Until Golf Ireland is established in 2021, and the transfer of functions from the GUI and ILGU commence, it is business-as-usual for both the GUI and ILGU. This means that clubs, players and officials continue to communicate with both Unions as they always have. The same holds true for the CGI, whose work continues as before pending the transfer across in due course to Golf Ireland.
Under the Terms of Reference of the Transition Board, the Chairperson is required to be available to provide quarterly updates to the Boards of the ILGU and GUI. He has met both Boards once in that regard. The Transition Board will regularly update GolfIreland.ie on progress as the work of the Board continues.
The Continuing Role of Volunteers Golf is dependent on the many volunteers at club, regional and national level who undertake a range of activities. This will not change with the establishment of Golf Ireland. Current and new volunteers will be needed in the new body. If you are interested in a voluntary role in golf, you are invited to express interest with the relevant ILGU District or GUI Branch Executives to find out what roles are and will be available.
Chairperson O’Connor said: “Just as volunteers have been the lifeblood of the GUI and ILGU over the decades, so too will they be central to the success of Golf Ireland. There will be changes in how Golf is structured, with one overall governing body where previously there were two, but volunteers will continue to be a central pillar of the game in Ireland. We will be providing more detail in that regard as the Transition Period progresses.”
Conclusion O’Connor added: “The establishment of Golf Ireland is an exciting new development for golf on the island of Ireland. I am encouraged by the positive start to the work of the Transition Board. Everybody is committed and dedicated to the success of the project. Working closely with the ILGU and the GUI, we look forward to ensuring that the Proposal, approved overwhelmingly by members in January, is faithfully implemented and that by January 2021 the new structures and arrangements will be in place to enable Golf Ireland to take forward its mission of securing and developing the future of golf across the island.”
*Members of Transition Board: Tim O’Connor (Chairperson); Pauline Bailie; Mary Culliton; Ian Kerr; Brege McCarrick; Joe McNamara; John Power; Brian Punch; Fiona Scott.
GOLF IRELAND TRANSITION BOARD UPDATE - 19/03/19
As you will be aware, a single governing body for golf in Ireland was approved by both GUI and ILGU delegates at meetings held in January. A transition period has begun and the first meeting of the Transition Board of Golf Ireland, chaired by Tim O’Connor (Edmondstown), was held on March 12th. In addition to Tim as independent Chair, there are eight other Board Directors, four nominees from each organisation: Pauline Bailie (Belvoir Park), Mary Culliton (The Heath), Ian Kerr (Royal Portrush), Brege McCarrick (Mullingar), Joe McNamara (The Heath), John Power (Portmarnock), Brian Punch (Castletroy) and Fiona Scott (Dun Laoghaire). The board is charged with getting Golf Ireland up and running ahead of the official launch of the body in early 2021.
What this means Until Golf Ireland is established in 2021 and transfer of functions from the GUI and ILGU commence, it is business-as-usual for both the GUI and ILGU. This means that you continue to communicate with us as you always have done. General queries, including those relating to handicapping and rules, should be directed to your relevant GUI officer or ILGU District Official. Get into Golf programmes are still managed by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland while coaching programmes at underage level are managed by your provincial branch offices in the case of the GUI and Women and Girls’ Interprovincial Development queries should be directed to your ILGU District Executive.
A Transition Period, under the direction of the Transition Board is underway as we move towards Golf Ireland. The intention is for this to culminate with the first AGM and Regional meetings of Golf Ireland in the final quarter of 2020 which will pave 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 during the Transition Period. The Transition Board will issue quarterly reports on topics being discussed and progress being made as the work of the Board continues.
CLUBS APPROVE GOLF IRELAND PROPOSAL - 19/01/19
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