New era, new look, as golf unions set to unite

In March 2019, the historic decision to form Golf Ireland was completed.

This would see the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU) merge into one entity. A transition board was formed and became responsible for delivering Golf Ireland, and to ensure that it would go-live in January 2021.

In attendance at the brand launch for Golf Ireland, the new governing body for golf in Ireland which takes over from the Golfing Union of Ireland and Irish Ladies Golf Union on January 1, 2021, are, from left to right, Mark Kennelly, CEO, Golf Ireland; Fiona Scott, Transition Board member, Golf Ireland; Tim O’Connor, chairman, Golf Ireland Transition Board; and Claire Kerlin, senior account director, The Public House. Picture: Ramsey Cardy
In attendance at the brand launch for Golf Ireland, the new governing body for golf in Ireland which takes over from the Golfing Union of Ireland and Irish Ladies Golf Union on January 1, 2021, are, from left to right, Mark Kennelly, CEO, Golf Ireland; Fiona Scott, Transition Board member, Golf Ireland; Tim O’Connor, chairman, Golf Ireland Transition Board; and Claire Kerlin, senior account director, The Public House. Picture: Ramsey Cardy

Research into the development of this single entity shows that the March 2019 decision was the result of a three-year process of discussion and consultation between the two unions, both internally with their respective clubs and regional bodies, and externally with key national and international stakeholders.

Leading up to that decision the final seal of approval was made in January 2019, when the ILGU held its AGM and the GUI held a special general meeting to put the matter to a vote. The GUI result was 94% in favour of the proposal; The ILGU’s figure was 100%.

Such a response heralded a new and exciting chapter in the sport, which meant that the game of golf in Ireland would, for the first time, have an all-inclusive governing body.

In the year or so since then, a huge programme of work has taken place to ensure that go-live date will be achieved.

The work being conducted by Golf Ireland is divided into nine sub-committees, one of which is ‘Branding, Logo and Website’.

Fiona Scott (Dun Laoghaire Golf Club), a former managing director of McConnells advertising agency, is leading this committee and the official branding for Golf Ireland was revealed yesterday at Carton House.

The Public House, a Dublin-based advertising agency which opened in 2016, was tasked with creating the identity and, with a golf-mad designer on board, the agency pursued several angles.

The focus started with sport in general before narrowing down to golf, where it was noted that almost every brand and organisation in golf uses a golf ball, a flag, a golf club, or a silhouette of a golfer in its logo.

The agency wanted to move away from this and focused on the dynamic shapes that are integral to any golf course… the greens and the bunkers.

In the end, The Public House focused on three golf courses: Royal Portrush, Royal Belfast, and Dungannon. It may be no coincidence that all three are founding members of the GUI (1891) and ILGU (1893).

The outcome is intertwining putting greens, inspired by the shapes of our golf courses. The logo represents the equality, diversity, and inclusion of Golf Ireland.

Colin Hart, founder and creative director at The Public House, said:

“Golf Ireland is future-proofing golf in Ireland as a leading destination globally.

The Public House is proud to have helped them with their identity to give a long term personality to the brand whilst communicating all the values that they stand for.

Many benefits will come from this. The ability to attract funding and commercial partners, as well as boosting the image of the game are high up the list.

Golf Ireland will also project a clear and consistent message that golf in Ireland is inclusive, contemporary in its approach and in keeping with modern societal views, while remaining healthy, challenging, and fun. Once Golf Ireland is launched, in January 2021, golf clubs will only have to deal with one body when it comes to handicapping, inter-club events, club supports, and game development.

Golf Ireland will have one vision and one strategy, for both men and women, which is to lead golf into the future. There will be increased emphasis on support and services for the member clubs of Golf Ireland. Family-friendly initiatives and promoting an inclusive environment will be at the forefront of the body’s objectives.

The aim of these initiatives will be to help attract more people to the game, to support ongoing harmonious relations in our clubs the length and breadth of the country, and to have families say as a group that ‘this is a sport for us’.

This will inevitably heighten interest among commercial sponsors and Government bodies, as golf will be a more attractive proposition.

While this important transition work is taking place the GUI and ILGU will continue to operate as normal for the next 10 months. And, prior to that, all clubs will become members of Golf Ireland on October 9, 2020.

Speaking at the launch, Mark Kennelly, Golf Ireland’s first chief executive, said:

“The establishment of the Golf Ireland brand is just part of our journey in 2020 but an important one in terms of setting out how this new, modern, and inclusive governing body will work.

Our dedicated team of volunteers on the transition board, combined with the staff of the ILGU, GUI, and CGI will continue to deliver the timeline to ensure Golf Ireland is fully established by the end of this year.

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