Jim Long elected Golf Ireland President

Jim Long pictured with Monkstown members after he was elected President of Golf Ireland

Monkstown’s Jim Long was last weekend appointed the new Golf Ireland President at the 2023 AGM.  Long has served in many different roles in golf’s administration, and his succession as President follows two decades of work at local and national level.  Jim served as Honorary Secretary for the Munster Branch until he moved to the position of Chairman in 2017 where he served for three years.  With the incorporation of Golf Ireland, Jim served as the Chairman of the Munster Regional Executive before being elected as Golf Ireland President Elect in 2022.

As well as his involvement as an administrator, he also served as team captain to several Munster Boys and Irish Boys teams in inter-provincial and international events.  Jim and his family have a long association with Monkstown Golf Club.  He is a past captain of the club and represented the club in Senior Cup, Barton Shield among other teams.  His wife Maura is also a past Captain of the ladies club and his son Eoghan has also represented Monkstown in inter-club events for a number of years.

“I have been playing golf for 40 years and it’s a huge honour for me, my family, and Monkstown Golf Club and Dooks,” said Long.  “It’s a daunting task, it looks as if the commitment will be huge but I am looking forward to it. I am looking forward to meeting an awful lot of golfers, officers in various clubs and going to visit the clubs.”

Jim Long incoming President and outgoing President Kay O’Loughlin at the Golf Ireland AGM Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

It is the second time that a Monkstown member has held the highest role in the sport, John O’Reilly previously was President of the Golfing Union of Ireland and John along with several other Monkstown members were present in Mullingar on Saturday.  It was the third AGM of Golf Ireland since it was founded in 2020, taking over from the ILGU and GUI.  There was a large number of clubs represented at the meeting and during the meeting, there was a presentation from R&A Director of Sustainable Golf, Arlette Anderson, who talked about the need for clubs to take action now to ensure golf is thriving in 50 years’ time.  Claire Bates, Director of Handicapping from the R&A, also presented on the day sharing information about the World Handicap System.

The President is in for a busy year with a full schedule of championships and inter-club tournaments set to start next month.  Monkstown will host the Munster Women’s Championships next week and there are some first round inter-club matches scheduled over the next two weeks.  Following a review from the championship committee there are a number of change to the inter-club competitions for 2023.  This follows feedback submitted by almost 250 clubs on a range of issues, as well as a continual review of competition operations over the previous two years.

Golfers were informed in 2022 that a full handicap index (20 rounds) by the end of 202 would be needed to participate in inter-club event in 2023, and the qualifying handicap index will be the lowest of 2022.  This also applies for competitions with an order of play involving handicaps.  The requirement to play in handicap order has been removed in several women’s competitions including the Senior Cup, Senior Foursomes, Junior Foursomes and Four-Ball.  The order of play rule was retained for the Women’s Junior Cup.

Additional feedback from the survey indicated 70% of clubs have experienced difficulty in fielding competitive teams in inter-club competition and Golf Ireland have made a number of changes to try to address this.  The handicap eligibility bands for both the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield and AIG Pierce Purcell Shield will be significantly widened The Bruen range will move to 3.5 – 12.5, with the lowest handicap per pair moving to 16.0.  Golfers with a handicap index of higher than 12.5 can still compete as the event is a gross match play competition.

The Mens Fourball, previously known as the Michael Cashman Trophy in Munster until 2020, is being merged with the Pierce Purcell and the competition now has an expanded handicap range of e 12.5 – 21.5.  The Jimmy Bruen Shield will remain a gross competition while shots will now apply in the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield.  This was introduced to ensure that the small cohort of clubs that has previously competed in the Men’s Four-Ball but not the Pierce Purcell Shield can continue to compete in this event.  The lowest combined handicap index moves to 25.0 and the maximum is 34.0 with shots being introduced for 2023.  There are also handicapping changes to the Fred Perry that seeks to limit the number of shots given.

The 2022 home advantage format will remain for 2023 despite half of Munster clubs voting to revert to the weekend format.  Munster was the only region to vote this way and the first named club in all first round matches will hold the home advantage.