Month: February 2021

New Golf Ireland Board elected at first AGM

To: Club Communication Officers and Honorary Secretaries

FAO: All Members

Equality at heart of first full Golf Ireland Board

  • 13 member board with 46% female representation
  • John White to take on President role for 2021
  • Paul Haran appointed Chairperson

Golf clubs heralded a new era for the sport in Ireland today (Saturday 27 February), as the AGM of Golf Ireland, with over 900 in attendance virtually, witnessed the ratification of the first full board for the new governing body with 46% female representation.

Taking over from the Transition Board, chaired by Tim O’Connor, the first full board proper of Golf Ireland is tasked with developing a strategy for the organisation and will be accountable to affiliate clubs through the annual general meeting.

John White (Co. Armagh) takes on the honour of being the first President of Golf Ireland, a post he will hold for 2021, before Kay O’Loughlin (Castlerea) assumes the office for 2022.

Paul Haran, a former Secretary General of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, with considerable experience in both the public and private sectors takes on the role of Chairperson.

“I would like to thank Tim and the Transition Board for their great work in bringing Golf Ireland to where it is today, a modern and inclusive governing body” said Haran.

“I am both honoured and excited to be appointed as Chairperson to the Board of Golf Ireland and I look forward to working closely with my fellow directors over the coming years to build on the solid foundations set down by the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland over the last 130 years.

“We have a diverse range of relevant skill sets on the board which will help us in developing and implementing an inclusive strategic vision for the game of golf across Ireland.”

Outgoing Chairperson of the Transition Board, Tim O’Connor said: “Golf in Ireland has set itself on an exciting new journey, building on the tremendous legacy of the ILGU and GUI. The way our affiliate Clubs have embraced the new dispensation, exemplified by very strong participation in the Regional Elections Process, has been very encouraging and inspiring and I have no doubt our sport is going to go from strength to strength into the future, founded on the values and principles of the Proposal of equality, inclusion and diversity.

“It’s been a great honour to chair the Transition Board and I would like to thank my colleagues on it for their sterling work over the two years of Transition. On their behalf and my own, I wish the new Board and the Team at Golf Ireland tremendous success.”

While messages of support were received from the Office of the Taoiseach, Sport Ireland, Sport NI and the legacy organisations, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “I am delighted to hear that the transition to a single governing body for golf in Ireland has gone well and remains on schedule. Today’s AGM is an important milestone on this journey.

“The R&A is committed to ensuring that golf is thriving 50 years from now, but to achieve this long-term vision, we need to work collaboratively with national associations around the world. Of course, Golf Ireland has a vital role to play within Ireland, but it also has an important role to play beyond its shores in terms of shaping our sport globally.”

Additional messages received can be found attached.

The final report of the Transition Board is available to VIEW HERE

Board of Directors in full:

John White (President), Kay O’Loughlin (President Elect), Paul Haran (Chairperson), Jane Joyce, Gerri Houlihan, Barry Lynch, Peter Greene, Pauline Bailie, Teresa Byrne, Vinny Hammond, Martin Hynes, Sarah O’Connor, John Power.

For continuity and in line with good governance practices, Pauline Bailie and John Power from the Transition Board will also serve as Directors on the first full Board of Golf Ireland.

Biographies of each director are listed below.

John White, President

John is a member of Co. Armagh GC and has served on numerous committees, is a past captain and president and is currently a trustee of the club. He enjoys both the playing and administrative aspects of golf and has a keen interest in rules – having completed the Level 3 Rules Exam at St Andrew’s. Serving as a GUI Ulster Branch volunteer for over 20 years, John became Ulster Chairman in 2017. He has also acted as Ireland team manager on several occasions including a victorious European Nations (2016) and two Home International winning teams (2015 & 2017).

Kay O’Loughlin, President Elect

Kay has represented her club Castlerea GC on many fora within the ILGU during a distinguished career as a volunteer. This includes her membership of the ILGU Connacht District Committee, as Chair of the ILGU Connacht District Handicapping Committee, member of the GUI/ILGU Joint World Handicapping Committee and member of the ILGU National Course Rating Committee.

Paul Haran, Chairperson

Paul served as Secretary General of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, retiring in 2004 after a public sector career of almost 30 years. Since then he has been a Director and board member of many companies and bodies including Glanbia, National Broadband Ireland, the Irish Heritage Trust and Edward Dillon which he chairs. He served as Chairperson of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and as the Vice-President and Principal of UCD’s Business and Law schools.

Jane Joyce, Director

Jane is an experienced golf administrator, most recently as the ILGU Connacht District Secretary and also at club level with Gort GC. Trained in marketing and public relations, her primary experience is at a voluntary level having participated in the initial Golf Ireland Discussion Group on volunteerism.

Gerri Houlihan, Director

Gerri has been Chairperson of Headfort GC having been a member there for over 25 years and serving in various committee roles. By profession she was a Medical Scientist, working for 35 years in various Dublin hospitals. She is retired since 2010, having been the Chief Medical Scientist of the Endocrine Laboratory in the Mater Hospital.

Barry Lynch, Director

Barry has been a member of Raffeen Creek since its founding in 1989 and has held many voluntary positions within the club. He also has had extensive involvement with the GUI, both at provincial and national level in the areas of handicapping, course rating, rules and championships.

Peter Greene, Director

Peter is a chartered accountant and statutory auditor with 30 years professional experience in the accountancy profession and voluntary sector, with specific expertise in corporate governance. Peter is also a member of Holywood GC and has undertaken a variety of volunteer roles within the club.

Pauline Bailie, Director

Pauline was a member of the Transition Board of Golf Ireland, chairing the Volunteering Sub Committee. She was also a member of the most recent ILGU Board, chairing the Handicapping and Course Rating Committee. Prior to this, she was involved in golf administration in her club Belvoir Park. Pauline’s professional career was in the Northern Ireland Civil Service where she has worked for over 35 years.

Teresa Byrne, Director

Teresa is a professional accountant working in the pharmaceutical industry for a number of years. She was previously a member of the ILGU Board as Finance Director until 2019 and was heavily involved in the Golf Ireland Discussion Group during this time. She is also involved in volunteering at her local club New Ross.

Vinny Hammond, Director

Vinny’s professional background is in high performance sport where he works as the Head of Analytics and Innovation for the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), primarily working with the senior national team. He also sits on their High Performance Strategy Committee. He is a member of Carton House GC.

Martin Hynes, Director

Martin has experience in golf administration at both club and provincial level. He has been involved in the management of Athenry Golf Club and has also been a member of the GUI Connacht Branch, sitting on their Championship Committee. Martin works as lecturer in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, with a research background in high performance sport.

Sarah O’Connor, Director

Sarah is a qualified solicitor who has spent her career in the sports industry. Firstly as CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport until 2015 and more recently as Company Director and Head of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship at Wilson Hartnell. She also has volunteer experience as Chairperson of Boardmatch Ireland and as a member of Irish Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Group. She is a member of Milltown GC.

John Power, Director

John was a member of the Transition Board of Golf Ireland, having previously been involved in the Discussion Group to form the new organisation and as a member of the GUI board. He has also been involved as a volunteer with his own club Portmarnock GC. Professionally, John is Chartered Engineer and was Director General of Engineers Ireland until 2015.

Kind regards,

Golf Ireland | Carton Demesne, Maynooth, Co. Kildare W23 R8C6

T: +353 (1) 505 4000 | M: +353 (86) 086 8191


Update from Golf Ireland

To: Club Communication Officers and Honorary Secretaries,

FAO: All Members

As you will be aware, the inaugural Golf Ireland National AGM is scheduled for this Saturday 27 February at 11am via online conference. Preparations for this meeting have been ongoing in recent weeks and we have been contact with your club delegates to ensure clubs are facilitated in relation to this. A key function of this meeting will be to elect the first board of Golf Ireland. This vote will be conducted electronically and delegates in each club have now received instructions in relation to this.

You will also be aware of the recent government decisions to maintain current COVID-19 restrictions. We understand the frustration and the difficult situation that many clubs are currently in with the courses remaining closed. I want to assure you all that we are engaging intensively with the relevant government departments and agencies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to highlight the safety and health benefits of golf. All of you did a great job last year in keeping golf safe at club level. That strong track record is really standing to us now as we make the case for golf to be one of the first sports to restart as soon as the public health situation allows. Last month, Golf Ireland made a detailed written submission to the Irish Government on how golf can be safely resumed under the various levels of its Living with Covid Plan and a similar submission was made to the Northern Ireland Executive. We will continue to work closely with the public authorities to ensure that our sport is up and running again as soon as possible.

In relation to this, Golf Ireland’s Championships team and Regional Managers have been working on a revised schedule for the 2021 season to take into account the continuing challenges posed by the pandemic. With regard to the Regional and National Championships schedule, it is planned to commence the season at the end of May, subject to public health restrictions. Online entries for Championships will open on the week ending Friday 19 March. Despite the later-than-usual start, it remains Golf Ireland’s firm intention to run a comprehensive schedule. The full schedule will be published at the end of February. Golf Ireland’s Tournament Regulations are also being updated to take account of the evolving public health circumstances and will be published along with the fixture list shortly. Golf Ireland is extremely grateful to the host clubs involved for their patience, co-operation and continued enthusiasm, without which it would not be possible to provide such a comprehensive competition programme in the circumstances that currently prevail.

Meanwhile, there has been a greatly encouraging response from golf clubs to the opening of entries for the 2021 Inter-Club competitions. Over 370 clubs have entered these competitions, and at the end of this month the Regions will conduct the draws for the competitions, which will then be published on the week ending Friday 19 March. As things stand, we anticipate the deadline for completion of first round matches in most events to be set no earlier than mid-May, again depending on when matches will be allowed to commence due to public health restrictions. With regard to the four All-Ireland inter-club competitions that were suspended in 2020 at the semi-final stage due to public health restrictions, it remains Golf Ireland’s intention to conclude these before the clubs involved commence their participation in this year’s matches.

Kind regards,


Mark Kennelly

Chief Executive

Golf Ireland | Carton Demesne, Maynooth, Co. Kildare W23 R8C6

T: +353 (1) 505 4000


Scroll to top