Golfing Union of Ireland proposals aimed at helping cashed strapped clubs have been dismissed as “not going far enough” by Rockmount GC captain Peter O’Hara.
For the second year in a row, the Co Down club has tabled a motion ahead of the forthcoming Ulster branch ADM urging the GUI to subsidise clubs reaching the finals of the All-Ireland Cups and Shields.
“We put forward the same motion last year. At the time, Peter Sinclair [Chairman], indicated to the meeting that the GUI was looking at ways to help clubs out,” said O’Hara.
“The plans they have proposed do not go far enough. The GUI has a healthy bank balance [according to the 2011 accounts the Union had capital reserves of just over €3m] and is in a position to help clubs fund what can be a huge cost.”
During last year’s debate on Rockmount’s motion, Mr Sinclair insisted that the Union would, ‘not sit on three million’. He added that the Union was working to produce a plan that would benefit ‘every GUI member’ and not just the clubs that reached the All-Ireland Finals.
The Union intends to freeze competition entry fees for three years and also freeze the levy [£11 paid by every affiliated member] for a minimum of three years. The Ulster branch levy [£3.50] will also be frozen for three years.
“I hope the delegates remember what was said last year and support the motion, in my eyes not enough has not been done to help the clubs,” added O’Hara.
The levy remains the major source of income for both the GUI and the provinces. A decision to freeze them at current levels, coupled as it is with a declining membership, will undoubtedly have an impact on the Union’s ability to administer the amateur game.
Ulster branch figures for 2012 reveal that £131,787 was taken in through the levy, down by just over £4000 on the 2011 figure. It is expected to decline again in 2013 as a result of dropping membership. Yet, the branch and the Union are still able to report an operating surplus at the end of the year, while many clubs are battling to stay afloat.
Donaghadee’s Junior Cup team went all the way to the All-Ireland Finals in Kinsale this year, returning with a gold medal but the success came at a cost of over £4000.
Like most clubs, Donaghadee was forced to fundraise to send the team to Cork and club captain, Jim McCurley, an enthusiastic supporter of the Rockmount proposal, is convinced that something more than just ‘tinkering at the edges’ has to be done.
“We have been cutting costs for a number of years and we will be doing so next year,” said McCurley.
“All the money that was talked about last year [at the ADM] and still they are taking money off us.”
McCurley estimates that Donaghadee spent somewhere in the region of £10,000 on team expenses this year, a heavy reduction on previous campaigns and only achieved by some early exits and tight monetary controls.
It’s one of the reasons why the club has proposed motions to the ADM aimed at regionalising the early rounds of the Ulster Cup and Ulster Fourball competitions.
“Our Ulster Cup team went to Ballyliffin this year to play and our Ulster Fourball team played Ballybofey and Newtownstewart. It was two expensive trips costing £1500,” he added.
“If things continue the way they are going, I can see clubs not being able to pay expenses or simply making financial decisions not to enter competitions.”
The Ulster Branch ADM is on November 27.