Golfing Union of Ireland
|Location||Carton House, Maynooth|
The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) is the governing body for men's and boy's amateur golf in Ireland. It represents over 430 golf clubs with over 170,000 members and has strong relations with The R&A, which is the global governing body of golf outside the United States and Mexico.
It is suggested that the origins of the Union lie in the desire by a number of golf clubs to create an Irish Championship. There were 28 clubs already established in Ireland before the foundation of the Union, although they were known as 'greens' at that time. The Union was established at a meeting in Belfast on 13 November 1891, which was attended by representatives of nine clubs, all of which were located in the province of Ulster. The founding clubs were The County Down, The County Club at Portrush, Royal Belfast, Killymoon, Dungannon, Aughnacloy, Ballycastle, Portsalon and Buncrana. Once a properly constituted organisation had been established to administer the game, golf in Ireland became more popular, evidenced by the fact that a further 97 clubs were formed between 1892 and 1900.
The Union introduced a handicapping system in 1897 and this was thought to be the most far-reaching advance in the promotion of the game. At that time, individual clubs implemented their own systems, based on the scores of their most consistent player; using him as a back-marker and allocating other players shots accordingly. The Union adopted a similar approach in developing the first universal handicapping system, and used one Thomas Gilroy as the back-marker. Gilroy was born in Dundee in 1852 and was to be seen knocking balls around Carnoustie with a cleek at the age of seven. He was educated at St. Andrews where he received tuition from both Old and Young Tom Morris. He moved to Ireland in 1885 and was by far the most consistent player there over the next ten years, holding the course record for most of the courses in existence in the country at that time.
The new handicapping system set out the range of handicaps in 10 classes from plus to 30 and laid down specific allowances for matchplay, whereby the weaker player would not be disadvantaged by the stronger. It also introduced the concept of using yardage measurements to establish the par score of a hole or course. This is the first time that the word par appears in golf, defined as the number of strokes in which a hole or round can be taken without mistakes.
The original charter of the Union prescribed that each affiliated club was entitled to send forward up to three delegates to every meeting. By 1911, 163 clubs had become affiliated to the Union and this became impractical. It became necessary to draw up a new constitution which provided for the establishment of a Central Council and four provincial Councils, a format which has endured to the present day. This new constitution was ratified in April 1913.
The GUI consists of a Central Council and four provincial branches, namely the Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster branches. Each provincial branch manages the golfing affairs of that province and all clubs in the province are affiliated to that branch. Branch delegates are elected by club members on an annual basis and each branch has delegates on Central Council. The head of the Central Council is known as President of the GUI and the four branch chairmen are vice-presidents. The presidency is for a one-year period and rotates between the four provinces.
The four main officers of the Union are the President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and the President Elect. These four, along with two representatives from each of the provincial branches and the immediate Past President, make up the Executive Committee of 13. In addition to these voluntary positions, the GUI also has a number of employees, including a General Secretary who manages the day-to-day affairs of the Union.
- Menton, William A., (1991) The Golfing Union of Ireland, 1891 - 1991, p.14
- Menton, p.12
- Menton, p.6
- Menton, p.18.
- Golf, Thomas Gilroy Biography, 17 February 1893.
- Menton, p.36.
- Low, John, J. (ed.), Nisbet's Golf Yearbook, 1905.
- Menton, p.49.
- GUI Website - About Us Retrieved 4 February 2008.