The Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) has announced grants totalling €101,000 to nine aspiring golfers who are pursuing their careers on professional golf tours.
Over €3 million has been provided to golf professionals since the Team Ireland Golf scheme was introduced in 1999. Formerly administered by the Irish Sports Council, Team Ireland Golf aims to contribute to an increase in the presence of Irish golf professionals on the various international tours.
The total budget for Team Ireland Golf in 2014 is €170,000, an increase of €6,000 on 2013 and is made up of €140,000 from the Irish Sports Council and €30,000 from Fáilte Ireland. The budget includes allocations for the GUI Academy and for the ILGU and GUI Performance Managers who work with the golfers on the scheme.
There are two new entrants from the amateur ranks to the scheme in 2014, in Kevin Phelan and Brian Casey. Phelan will be competing on the European Tour having won his card in November and has been allocated a grant of €20,000. While Casey will compete on the Alps Tour and has been allocated a grant of €7,000.
Ruaidhri McGee is a new addition to Team Ireland Golf in 2014 having been a professional for a number of years. He will receive a grant of €15,000 and will compete on the Challenge Tour. Gareth Shaw will also receive funding of €15,000 following a promising year in 2013.
Former winner of the British Amateur Championship, Alan Dunbar will receive a grant of €12,000 in his second season as a professional.
Minister of State for Sport and Tourism, Mr Michael Ring TD, welcomed the allocation of the grants: “Golf is hugely important in Ireland for sport, community and tourism. We are proud that Ireland is doing so well at the highest levels of golf globally, and we must continue to invest in emerging golfers to maintain a strong Irish presence on international tours. Team Ireland Golf supports professional golfers at the start of their tour careers. I want to pay tribute to everyone involved in the scheme, especially the GUI and ILGU, which assist golfers to progress from amateur to professional ranks.”
As part of the support package, all golfers can avail of the world class facilities at the GUI’s National Academy at Carton House. The golfers on the scheme also have free access to the network of service providers such as physiologists, sports psychologists, biomechanists, physiotherapists and doctors coordinated by the Institute of Sport at Abbotstown.
Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the Board of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland said: “The CGI is delighted to have taken over the administration of the Team Ireland Golf scheme. The early years of a golfer’s professional career can be very lonely times. For this reason, I’m very pleased that we are able to provide support to those who are embarking on this great adventure; it’s important that the support we offer is not just financial, but that we should also provide advice on an array of related matters. In this way, I very much hope that we will become a “spiritual home” for Irish golfers who are transitioning from amateur to professional ranks. If we all do this properly in the coming years, we should be able to build on Ireland’s outstanding reputation for generating some of the finest golfers the world has seen in recent times.”
John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council commented “I am delighted that the Confederation of Golf has taken over the administration of the Team Ireland Golf scheme. These grants are essential to assist our top golfers to make the transition from amateur to the professional ranks. It is vitally important that we continue to support our individual golfers to ensure that the game remains healthy and that Ireland has a strong representation in professional tournaments around the world.”
Kevin Phelan (€20,000) said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this backing. It will be a great help for me in my rookie season on the European Tour and is very much appreciated. This is another clear indication of just how much Team Ireland does in the interests of golf and I will do my best to justify their faith by adding my name to the list of outstanding golfers they have helped produce.”
Alan Dunbar (€12,000) responded to the news of the grant: “I am extremely grateful to receive the backing of Team Ireland. In my second year as a pro this support is a major boost. The funding will be a massive help with the costs of competing in tournaments around the world.”
Gareth Shaw (€15,000) welcomed the grant: “I am delighted to receive funding again. The help from Team Ireland over the past number of years has been invaluable to me and I would not be playing now without that support. With this backing I will look to push on and show what I am capable of this year”