By Simon LewisRugby and Golf Correspondent
Golfing Union of Ireland general secretary Pat Finn has labelled forthcoming merger talks with the the Irish Ladies Golf Union as a logical step forward for the game’s governance on the island of Ireland.
The GUI and ILGU issued a joint statement yesterday announcing that exploratory talks would take place between the separate arbiters of the men’s and women’s golf “with a view to the formation of one governing body for golf on the island of Ireland”.
It is believed the talks between the game of golf’s oldest respective national governing bodies could begin before the end of the year once some governance changes within the GUI have been finalised over the next six months.
The GUI is the oldest golfing union in the world, having been formed in 1891, with ILGU founded two years later and any merger would follow a precedent set by Ireland’s Home International rivals.
“England have merged, Wales have merged having used to have separate governing bodies for the men’s and women’s games; Scotland are in the process of merging,” Finn told the Irish Examiner.
“The Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union are, respectively, the oldest men’s and ladies’ golfing unions in the world and were established at a time that’s very different to today.
“If you were setting about establishing such bodies today, you’d be establishing one, and that’s the logic behind entering the talks.”
Finn highlighted “a very close working relationship” between the GUI andILGU over the last six years, with both entities sharing a website and becoming founding members, along with the Professional Golfers Association of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland, an industry-wide umbrella group initiated to grow and develop the game across the island of Ireland.
Yesterday’s joint statement read: “The ILGU and the GUI currently have an excellent working relationship, and in the past number of years have collaborated successfully on a large number of projects, foremost among which was Ireland’s successful bid to host the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships at Carton House. A further statement will be made this autumn, following the conclusion of the golfing season.”
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