The Confederation of Golf in Ireland has announced grants totalling €105,000 to 12 aspiring golfers who are pursuing their careers on professional golf tours, writes the GUI.
More than €3.3 million has been provided to golf professionals since the Team Ireland Golf scheme was introduced in 1999. Formerly administered by Sport Ireland, 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 2016 is €200,000. The funding for the scheme is provided by Sport 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.
The budget also includes funding for the Irish Challenge event at Mount Wolseley, which will be held from 8-11 September.
This contribution will provide Team Ireland with a number of starts in the event, some of which will be used to trade with overseas events to give Team Ireland players more opportunities on the Challenge Tour.
The two largest allocations in 2016 will go to Paul Dunne and Stephanie Meadow, both of whom will receive €20,000 in funding.
Dunne, a first-time funding recipient, enjoyed a spectacular end to his amateur career in 2015, the highlight being his performance at St Andrews where he led the Open Championship going into the final round.
After winning the Walker Cup with Great Britain & Ireland in September, he went on to win his European Tour card at Q-School and has made a stunning start to his professional career.
Stephanie Meadow will be competing primarily on the Symetra Tour, which is a developmental tour for the LPGA Tour. Meadow made an incredible start to her professional career in 2014 when she secured a third place finish at the US Women’s Open and will hope to qualify for the Olympics this August.
Stephanie Meadow (€20,000) said: “I am so thankful for the continued support of Team Ireland. Their support allows me to train at the highest possible level and prepare to the best of my ability for the season. I am proud to be a part of team Ireland.”
Walker Cup stars Gary Hurley, Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin are among the new names on the scheme. All three will receive allocations of €5,000 and, more importantly, the CGI has secured seven starts for each of them on the European Challenge Tour as they set out on their professional careers.
Chris Selfridge, who moved into the professional ranks last May, has been allocated €10,000. Selfridge made a bright start to his professional career with a string of fine performances on the European Challenge Tour in 2015.
Waterford man Kevin Phelan enters his third year on the scheme and has been allocated €10,000 as he continues his bid to win back full playing rights on the European Tour.
Ruaidhri McGee, who came close to winning a European Tour Card through the Challenge Tour last season, will be allocated another €10,000 which matches the funding he received in 2015.
Brian Casey, Alan Dunbar Jeff Hopkins and Reeve Whitson will all be in receipt of €5,000 of funding with two Challenge Tour starts available to each player.
Minister of State for Sport and Tourism, Mr Michael Ring TD, welcomed the allocation of the grants, saying: “Irish golf enjoyed a very successful year in 2015 both at amateur and professional level with many outstanding performances by our golfers. We must continue to invest in our emerging golfers in 2016 to sustain this success and maintain a strong Irish presence on international golf tours.
"Team Ireland Golf provides essential support to professional golfers at the start of their tour careers. I want to pay tribute to everyone involved in the scheme, including the GUI, ILGU, the PGA and Sport Ireland, which assist golfers to progress from amateur to professional golf.”
As part of the support package, all golfers can avail of the world class facilities at the GUI’s National Golf Academy.
"The golfers on the scheme also have free access to a network of service providers such as physiologists, sports psychologists, biomechanists, physiotherapists and doctors, all of which is coordinated by the Institute of Sport at Abbotstown."
Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the Board of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland said: “The early years as a professional golfer can be both lonely and costly. We, at the CGI, do everything we can to make this transition as seamless and as painless as possible.
"On behalf of the CGI, I congratulate our emerging golfers, we thank them for representing us so well around the world and we wish them every possible success in the challenging and exciting years that lie ahead.”
John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland commented: “The investment by Sport Ireland in the Team Ireland Golf Scheme is essential to assist our top golfers to make the transition from elite amateur to the professional ranks. The support package includes individual grants to golfers and access to the GUI’s National Academy.
"A key component of our investment is financial support for the hosting of a Challenge Tour event in September. 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.”
Team Ireland Golf grant allocations 2016
Name Tour Funding
- Paul Dunne European Tour/Challenge Tour €20,000
- Stephanie Meadow Symetra Tour €20,000
- Kevin Phelan European Tour/Challenge Tour €10,000
- Chris Selfridge Challenge Tour €10,000
- Ruaidhri McGee Challenge Tour €10,000
- Gary Hurley Challenge Tour €5,000 + 7 CT Starts
- Gavin Moynihan Challenge Tour €5,000 + 7 CT Starts
- Cormac Sharvin Challenge Tour €5,000 + 7 CT Starts
- Brian Casey Challenge Tour €5,000 + 2 CT Starts
- Alan Dunbar Europro Tour €5,000 + 2 CT Starts
- Jeff Hopkins Sunshine Tour €5,000 + 2 CT Starts
- Reeve Whitson EPD Tour €5,000 + 2 CT Starts