The Munster Branch held their Annual Delegates Meeting in Mallow on Tuesday evening and a very large crowd attended to reflect on a another positive year for golf in the province. It was an occasion to celebrate the successes during the year which included national wins for Dooks, Ballybunion and Thurles. The Branch reported a deficit of over €22,000 for the year, the first loss in many years. A substantial increase in coaching costs in addition to a large increase in the numbers of golfers in interpro panels led to the loss. As the Treasurer projected a loss of €10,000 for the year ahead, a motion to increase the provincial subscription by €2 was put to the meeting and passed. The increase will see the provincial levy set at €8 per golfer from 2017. Membership in Munster’s 88 golf clubs has dropped by 7,400 over the past six years, a drop of 21%. Listowel GC closed during the year and both Ardfert and Skellig Bay are closing at the end of 2015.
Despite the poor membership numbers, the reports are that 2015 saw a marginal increase in membership for a number of clubs. Delegates were reminded of the role played by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland in assisting clubs with the retention and recruitment of members. The CGI has completed a number of seminars in the province, all of which were very well attended by clubs. Junior membership is holding steady with around 5,000 members in the province, and many clubs have implemented the Branch supported coaching schemes to drive junior membership. Honorary Match & Handicap Secretary Liam Harkin (Muskerry) gave details of a new national competition, the All-Ireland Fourball Competition. He also announced that the Munster trophy for this competition would be named in honour of former Branch Chairman Michael Cashman. Cashman was a stalwart of the Munster Branch for many years and the trophy was provided by his friends from East Cork Golf Club. A warm tribute was paid to Tramore’s Michael Murphy who passed away in February. Michael was Treasurer of the Munster Branch since 2012 and the Chairman acknowledged his hard work at club, provincial and national level which spanned over 40 years.
Kinsale’s John Murphy won the Junior Golfer of the Year award, a well-deserved result from a solid summer of golf for the 17 year old. Although he recently turned professional, Gary Hurley from West Waterford won the Senior Golfer of the Year award and he becomes the first golfer to win consecutive awards following a great year. The highlight in Hurley’s year was no doubt the GB&I win in the Walker Cup, and his two wins in the final day of the competition. Dooks won the team of the year after their mixed foursomes team won provincial and national honours, and in doing so they won the first GUI pennants for the historic West Kerry golf club. There was also a special mention for Cork’s Tom Cleary won represented Ireland at seniors level and Kinsale’s Cathal Butler who played on the Irish Boys team.
Monkstown’s Jim Long was returned as Honorary Secretary while Muskerry’s Liam Harkin continues in his role on Handicapping and Match Secretary. John Moloughney was returned as Chairman for another term and Limerick’s Peter English was elected Honorary Treasurer. English took over the role mid-year when Michael Murphy stepped down due to ill-health. Cork clubs continue to have a strong presence on the provincial council. The seven existing members were returned Gordon Adair (Douglas), John Carroll (Bandon), Phil Cooney (Lee Valley), Tom Donnelly (Youghal), Barry Lynch (Raffeen Creek), Jim Lyne (Glengarriff), Sean O’Leary (Mahon), and they were joined by Dave Prendergast (Cork). Patrick Turner (Muskerry) failed in his bid to be elected.
John Carroll was also selected as the Delegate to Central Council. A motion to reduce the number of players in a Fred Daly (U/18) team to five was rejected by a large majority, with the consensus view that having seven golfers competing was generally a positive element of the competition and promoted the growth of competitive junior golf. It was commented that the Fred Daly Plate for first round losers had a requirement for five golfers and this gave every club a second round of competitive golf. The motion to increase the Munster Branch levy by €2 in 2017 was passed in light of the current and projected deficit in the Branch accounts.