AMBITIOUS Irish golfers will be helped adjust from elite amateur level to the professional ranks by the new Confederation of Golf in Ireland.
The Confederation, comprising GUI, ILGU, and PGA representatives, will examine ways of assisting fledgling pros make the transition to the paid ranks.
The CGI has taken over the funding formerly operated by the Golf Trust, but the Confederation intends to develop programmes of services for young pros who hope to emulate Rory McIlroy and Co.
GUI General Secretary Pat Finn said: "Young, transitioning pro golfers often found that the types of service they enjoyed as elite amateur players disappeared and they were on their own.
"In other countries they'd have federated bodies offering support programmes for transitioning professionals. Plans are in place to provide initiatives in those areas."
Finn was speaking after the GUI AGM held at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links last weekend. The AGM was told that golf club membership numbers continue to fall, with the GUI membership base now at 135,000 from a high of 177,000 10 years ago.
These statistics reflect the effect of the economic downturn on the game, which boomed to unprecedented levels from the early '90s through the mid-2000s.
Financially the Union incurred a loss of €61,000 on the year's operations, but GUI honorary treasurer Rollo McClure explained that they had budgeted for a loss, and can absorb it.
On the credit side, the GUI is hopeful that the CGI will help develop the game and assist clubs in maintaining member numbers and attracting new people to the game.
John Roche, director of golf and business development of the CGI, said: "Our aim is to have a complete suite of offerings to the clubs that will plug into programmes to get more people to play the sport."
GUI members will be interested in two motions which were passed, but which require the approval of the Council of National Golf Unions before they can come into force.
One is that to play in an open singles qualifying competition at an away club, a golfer must have returned a minimum of three qualifying scores in his home club the previous year.
The other is a proposal to eliminate the automatic awarding of 0.1 for No Returns, and to only award 0.1 in the event of completion of the stipulated round and return of a completed scorecard.
At executive level, Liam Martin of Castletroy Golf Club, is the new president of the Union.
Michael Connaughton (Roscommon GC) is the president-elect and will take office in 2015.