Tuesday 23 January 2018

Golf club hits rough patch with captaincy change up for debate

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

ONE of the country's oldest and most prestigious golf clubs is contemplating dispensing with tradition, meaning that the vice-captain will no longer be an automatic shoo-in for the top job.

It's been a long-held tradition since Killarney Golf and Fishing Club was founded in 1893 that the man elected vice-captain would become captain unopposed the following year, although it's not written into the club's constitution.

Should the club decide to elect a new captain, it will set a precedent that could be followed at other golf clubs around the country.

A larger-than-usual turnout is expected at the club's annual general meeting tomorrow afternoon.

The club has hosted the Irish Open on four occasions but has recently been beleaguered by debt and internal power struggles.

Sitting vice-captain James Ormonde is being challenged for the position of captain by James Loughnane, a former club director.

It's just the latest drama for the troubled club that sold one of its three golf courses at Lackabane earlier this year to the German-owned Liebherr crane firm for €6m. The proceeds of the sale will help clear the club's debts.

A club insider has told the Irish Independent that the challenge to the captain's position is indicative of the power struggle that's going on within the club.

"It reflects the level of division within the club that dates back over a decade," he said.

"Ormonde would be seen as one of the younger members while Loughnane is seen as part of the old guard."

Failte Ireland are the main shareholders at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club but one of the conditions of the government-approved sale of its Lackabane course was that the tourism authority would hand over the running of the club to the members, who in turn will appoint their own management committee.

Killarney Golf and Fishing Club is run by a board made up of five Failte Ireland-appointed directors and five member-elected directors with a Failte Ireland chairman.

Unlike most golf clubs that are member-run, the captain's role is seen as being somewhat diminished by this managerial structure.

Earlier this summer the club commissioned Deloitte to formulate a three-year business plan and chart a new course for it through a potentially difficult future for the club.

Irish Independent

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