Sunday 25 February 2018

Padraig embraces 'inevitable' move towards united fight to grow game

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington

Karl MacGinty

EVERYBODY is singing off the same hymn sheet, from Padraig Harrington to the game's leading administrators, when it comes to fighting the ravages of the recession.

Golf must become a more family-friendly sport if a fearsome 25pc fall in club memberships is to be reversed.

The three national controlling bodies, GUI, ILGU and PGA, now stand under the same umbrella, the Confederation of Golf in Ireland.

So there was a harmonious tone at yesterday's launch in Dublin of the confederation's first long-term development plan, offering a 20-20 vision of how best to address the drop from roughly 300,000 members in 2004 to about 220,000 today.

"This day was inevitable," said Harrington, saluting the new Confederation. "When I grew up playing golf in the '80s, there were three distinctly different bodies competing for the same resources.

"Over the last number of years, I've noticed a mellowing and the formation of the CGI is the culmination of that – the collective will be bigger than the individual. It'll help grow the game."

Special focus is placed on increasing the number of females playing.

Ireland has a higher proportion (21.3pc) of adult women members than England, Scotland or Wales but we lag behind continental Europe in this area and are rock bottom when it comes to female juniors.

"Women have to be encouraged to join golf clubs," said ILGU chief executive Sinead Heraty. "The programmes John Roche at the CGI is putting in place will go a long way to addressing that."

Irish Independent

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