In a bold move the GUI have just published a wave of proposals that could see major changes to the Cups and Shields. The final decision on the proposals will also go back to club via the Provincial delegate meetings which take place next month. Clubs are now being asked to discuss proposed changes to Junior Cup, the Jimmy Bruen and Purcell Purcell competitions in the biggest shake up in three decades. With over 40,000 golfers taking part in the national competitions each year, the proposals represent the outputs of a survey involving 4,000 golfers. The survey highlighted the significant need for reform, and a full review took place over the past six months to build a comprehensive set of proposals which give clubs the opportunity to amend the main inter-club handicap competitions. While various club motions through the years have been defeated, there is a feeling now that a number of key central proposals will have a great chance of being passed. The first proposal is to reduce the handicap limit for the Junior Cup from 5 to 4, and this is being proposed by three of the four provincial councils. Such a change has been called for over several years and not surprisingly the Junior Cup ranked lowest of all competitions in the golfers survey. The change if passed will see over 2,000 golfers nationally become eligible for the Junior Cup, most of whom would not be competitive at Senior Cup level. Following on from that a second proposal will be tabled the lower individual limit for the Jimmy Bruen will be reduced to 5 from the current limit of 6, and the combined limit will be reduced to 15 (from 17). This again should allow for a more competitive setting and give’s those golfers playing off 5 a chance to compete in the foursomes format. This proposal is being tabled by the Munster and Connacht Provincial Councils. Munster and Connacht have added a third motion to bring forward a similar chance at Pierce Purcell level. The proposal is to reduce the individual limit from 12 to 11 and that the combined handicap be reduced from 27 to 25. Separately, Leinster have proposed that the format of the Pierce Purcell be changed to scotch foursomes. The final proposal (Munster and Connacht) is around the All Ireland Four Ball competition (Michael Cashman Trophy), there the individual limit will go from 16 to 15 and the combined will reduce from 36 to 34. While the key rationale is that all motions should be passed or defeated, as they are all separate motions and separate competitions, it is possible that some changes may be passed and others defeated. Ulster, Connacht and Leinster have a motion calling for the introduction of an All Ireland seniors competition limited to golfers over 55. There is a competition in this category already, the JB Carr Diamond Trophy is run by Woodenbridge Golf Club and is not run under the GUI. That would bring the number of Cups and Shields competitions to eight, including the Irish Mixed Foursomes. There is also a motion from Leinster and Connacht to replace the Junior Foursomes with a five man team event playing with full handicaps for under 18’s. The current Fred Daly Trophy format sees all golfers playing off scratch. While the five man format would be duplicated, the full handicap proposal would broaden the number of clubs with competitive squads.
There has been growing calls for a change to the competitions, especially at handicap level where many feel that clubs and or individuals have been managing handicaps. While such allegations are incredibly hard to prove, the work carried out but the GUI to highlight handicap cheating last spring seemed to have a positive effect. Handicaps and slow play were two national initiatives that the GUI focused on early this year. Both were raised as awareness campaigns and it appears that both campaigns have had a positive impact in club competitions.
It’s also possible that the issue of home advantage will be raised at the Annual Delegates Meeting. This year in the South Munster area (Cork), six of the ten qualifiers were won by the home clubs and last year it was five from ten. While the recent bias towards home advantage was strong it wasn’t always like this. In 2014 just two host clubs won at home and in 2015 the number was three. Home advantage was deemed as an unfair advantage by many clubs this year, but given the inconvenience and lost income from hosting qualifier matches, removing home advantage will take away one of the few advantages that club have in offering to host inter-club events. There’s also a change the voting process this year. In a departure from previous years, every single vote cast at each of the four Annual Delegates’ Meetings will be counted and the overall result will determine whether these changes are introduced. Votes will continue to be weighted based on the number of members in each club. The deadline for motions and nominations passed yesterday and notice of any additional club motions should be circulated to clubs next week. In addition to the motions, the delegates meeting will also elect the Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Competition and Handicapping Secretary in addition to the 17 members of the Provincial Council. The Munster ADM takes place in the Hibernian Hotel in Mallow on Wednesday 29th November.