The Golfing Union of Ireland was the first golf union or federation in the world, having been founded in 1891 with a membership of nine clubs. Among the Union’s immediate objects was the advancement of golf in Ireland. Today’s figure of 408 affiliated clubs with a total membership of over 250,000 golfers shows how well that objective has been achieved.
The phenomenal growth of the game in Ireland and the necessity for the Golfing Union of Ireland to continue to provide the best possible service for its affiliated clubs and continue its role in providing top class coaching facilities for its players has brought the Union to a most exciting stage in its history.
The Golfing Union of Ireland has taken a most significant step forward in its decision to relocate its headquarters to the magnificent Carton Estate, in Maynooth, Co. Kildare, which is owned by the Mallaghan family. The move is expected to take place in early 2005.
Carton is one of Ireland’s great estates. Formerly the ancestral home of the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare who later became the Dukes of Leinster, it is comprised of a superbly preserved historic mansion house, surrounded by over 1,100 acres of enclosed parkland, woodlands and lakes. It has also has two championship golf courses, one designed by Mark O’Meara which opened last year, the other designed by Colin Montgomerie which opens in the coming months.
This is the first European course designed by O’Meara, the US Masters and Open Champion, and measures just over 7,000 yards. O’Meara, who is of Irish descent, made excellent use of the existing mature woodland for his design. Of particular note are holes 13, 14 and 15 (pars 3,4,3) – Carton’s ‘Amen Corner’ – which are guarded by the River Rye.
The Montgomerie course was designed on a more open landscape which frequently offers impressive views of the Rye Water Lake. The course, which measures 7,300 yards, has a links feel, with deep, strategically placed pot bunkers, well-contoured fairways and large undulating greens.
Carton Estate is located minutes from the town of Maynooth and about 12 miles to the west of Dublin city.
The Union’s plans at Carton Estate, in addition to building a new headquarters, also include a golf museum and a state-of-the-art National Golf Academy which will provide facilities for coaching various national panels and will also be the base for a new full time national coach and national development officer.
The proposed National Golf Academy, which will be built in partnership with the Mallaghan family, will include driving bays, a short game area, practice bunkers, putting greens, and special indoor coaching facilities which will be equipped with all the necessary computer equipment required in swing analysis.
This new development will not be exclusively for the elite players. It is expected that it will be available to the public and will certainly be part of the Union’s strategy of introducing golf to as many people as possible.
Golfing Union of Ireland www.gui.ie