THE vehemence and unanimity with which the delegates of Munster's Golf Clubs greeted the unequivocal words of the Outgoing Chairman and GUI President-Elect John Moloughney in his crystal-clear, condemnation of member clubs who do not stand firm against handicap cheats or do not apply the rules fairly in the interest of an honorable ethos and level playing field at the provinces Annual Delegates Meeting in Mallow last week, surprised me.
For someone who has waged what seemed like a one-man campaign against handicap cheating it was music to my ears.
Moloughney was merely adding rather than replying to comments from the packed room on a motion proposed by Donabate GC, sponsored by the Leinster Branch GUI "to change the restriction in Clause 4.5c and 20.10 of the 2016-2018 CONGU Universal Handicap Scheme to a maximum of 2.0 strokes in a calendar year, effective, if possible, for the 2017 season.”
The motion received short shrift. One brave soul pointed an accusing finger at the attitude of some Clubs towards the Pierce Purcell and Michael Cashman Trophy competitions stating that both are bringing the GUI and the game itself into disrepute. Golf is a handicap game but if handicapping is skewed there is no game was the gist of his argument.
"Whatever happened to the attitude that everybody wanted to be as low as possible?" The delegates seemed to want to know. It was preaching to the converted but it was good to hear nevertheless.
If someone decides to be dishonest and break rules, it is almost impossible to prevent it but nobody at the ADM will have come away with any doubts about how disapprovingly handicap fraud is regarded by the elected leaders of the amateur game in Munster, at least.
Having spent 25-years of his life supervising and introducing young golfers, John Moloughney from Templemore GC will become GUI President in 2018, said: the publication of the CONGU Unified Handicap booklet for 2016-2018 and the maximum increase from your lowest attained handicap of the year restricted to one shot restricts in some small way the coterie of players who feel that every year should bring an increase of two shots to their playing handicaps, allowing them to play with a handicap that far outstrips their ability.
Handicap building is the worst form of cheating because it is premeditated. Peer pressure is needed to stamp it out and handicap secretaries in clubs must take a more informed and active interest in dealing with the problem."
An impressive Pat Dunne (Roscrea) who must sleep with the rules on handicapping under his pillow and is Munster's nominee to the Central Council GUI gave the meeting a thorough update on the responsibilities on clubs re societies, reminding them of their obligations under CONGU/UHS rules.
He explained in detail how the current system doesn’t restrict a player to getting only one shot, as is thought. If Handicap Committees with the Clubs acquainted themselves fully they would see that they are in a more powerful position than they realize.
Mr. Doyle also indicated that a radical, new, worldwide handicap system was on the way but probably not before 2020.
In his final report as secretary, the new chairman, Jim Long (Monkstown) detailed the successes achieved by Munster golfers during 2016. He outlined how some clubs are not keen to give juniors a handicap until they reach a certain standard while others do not wish to see juveniles playing in adult competitions.
Such policies are stumbling blocks and he hoped that all Munster clubs would look to the future and adopt a proactive approach.
Honorary Treasurer, Peter English (Limerick) reported a marginal increase in adult memberships in Munster but saw a worrying decrease of 4.5% in juniors.
An increase in sponsorship revenue assisted income while a reduction in coaching and clothing costs helped to reduce expenditure. English highlighted that coaching grants are available and encouraged all clubs to apply.
Election of Officers: Chairman: Jim Long (Monkstown), honorary secretary: Barry Lynch (Raffeen Creek), honorary treasurer: Peter English (Limerick), honorary match & handicapping secretary: Dave Prendergast (Cork). Delegates to the Provincial Council (17): Gordon Adair (Douglas), John Carroll (Bandon), Phil Cooney (Lee Valley), Michael Coote (Tralee), Tom Donnelly (Youghal), Pat Dunne (Roscrea), John Fennessy (Clonmel), Kevin Glynn (Lahinch), Tom Keane (Ballybunion), Jim Lyne (Glengarriff), Sean Moran (Adare Manor), Kevin Murray (Tramore), Michael P Murphy (Newcastle West), Jim Nolan (Macroom), Sean O’Leary (Mahon), Brian Punch (Castletroy) and Liam Troy (Thurles).
The new secretary, Barry Lynch informed the meeting that all courses in Munster were currently being re-rated for new SSS and slope measurements.
The Branch had started with courses that had the longest standing ratings and were working through all of the courses on that basis.
A special vote of congratulations was sent to Limerick Golf Club on winning the prestigious Fred Daly Trophy.
Teams from Munster have reached the All-Ireland final in this under-18s competition on several occasions without ever winning out. In 2007, Limerick won In Munster but lost to a Greystones team led by the now, European Tour professional, Paul Dunne.
On 2016 Munster finals day, Limerick overcame the reigning, provincial champions Mallow first and then, Waterford Castle.
In the national semi-final an 'on-fire' Limerick side defeated the champions in the previous two years, Kilkenny and Athenry, by winning the first three matches of five to become the first Munster-based Champions of the Fred Daly Trophy.