Captaincy of golf club to be contested

A long-standing tradition in golf whereby the vice-captain of a club becomes captain for the following year, unopposed, is due to be set aside by one of the country’s leading clubs.

A contest is emerging for the 2013 captaincy of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club at the AGM of the men’s branch, this Sunday. The move is believed to be unprecedented in the club’s 119-year history.

The contest has been described as “a reflection of continuing divisions and a power struggle” in the club, that has been hit by a cash-flow crisis and is undergoing a top-to-bottom review by consultants Deloitte.

Traditionally, Killarney’s current vice-captain James Ormonde would automatically be declared captain for next year but he is being opposed by former club director, James Loughnane.

A larger-than-usual attendance is expected at the AGM for the vote.

Since a row flared up over the club’s shareholding a decade ago, there has been simmering discontent.

Following the row, Fáilte Ireland — which effectively owns the club — handed over a 25% stake. The board has since been composed of five Fáilte Ireland-appointed directors and five member-elected directors, with a Fáilte Ireland chairman.

Deloitte is said to be well advanced with its review, a process expected to lead to difficult decisions regarding spending cuts and staff levels. The club employs 40.

Earlier this year, the club sold its third course Lackabane for €6m to the Liebherr crane firm, which will help pay off its debts.

A key condition of government approval of the Lackabane sale is that Fáilte Ireland will hand over the running of the club to the members, who will form a new structure, or board, to oversee operations.

“There are big changes coming down the line and very quickly at that,” said an insider. “There’s a lobby within the club which has been seeking more control by members for a long time and the new structure will give that to the members…

“Some see what’s happening now as a struggle between the old guard and the new, but that’s not entirely accurate either. The club seriously needs to get itself in order and members need to keep their eye on the ball.”

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