The unique nature of links golf has been enshrined in an initiative set up to both protect and enhance Irish links golf. The Irish Links Initiative (ILI), which is the brainchild of Brian Coburn, the greens convenor of Royal County Down, was officially launched recently.
The ILI first came into being early in 2008 when an initial meeting attracted over 100 people all associated with links golf courses countrywide. The initial meeting was supported by the GUI, Failte Ireland, the GCSAI and the R&A, all of who have undertaken to support the initiative going forward along with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and now Toro, which involves Lely UK and Lely Ireland.
The ILI has set out the following objectives:
• Maintaining and conserving the heritage of Irish links golf
• Enhancing the links experience in its natural raw state
• Promote and drive the education of links management
• Exchange and share information among links courses
• Create greater awareness of Irish links courses
• Promote Irish links golf locally, nationally and internationally
Speaking of the Initiative Brian Coburn said that true links golf was one of the really great experiences for anyone involved in the game. He said that links game went back to the very origins of golf and as such should be cherished by all who are interested in this sport. He pointed out that true links golf courses are very much a finite resource and that Ireland is lucky to have over 30% of all the links golf courses worldwide.
He also noted that while today’s links golf courses make up approximately 10% of total Irish golf courses that they generate over 90% of golf tourist income to Irish shores.
“The two meetings we held in 2008 were highly successful. There is a real interest in preserving and enhancing this unique resource which we have. Our intention is to continue with the series of meetings and possibly regional workshops. Provisionally we hope to meet in Co Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point in October of this year.
“We also believe that there should be greater promotion of the whole links experience and to that end it is our intention to develop a website. This website would not only have a section for our members dealing with problem areas such as climate change and coastal erosion but it would also have a visitor or tourist section.”
In the future ILI hopes to network and liaise with other European links courses with a view to achieving a common voice across the EU on sensitive environmental issues. The ILI believes that in turn this will give positive support to the promotion of Irish links golf courses in North America and further afield.
Brian Coburn can be contacted through Roddy Guiney, chairman, Wilson Hartnell Public Relations, Dublin. Office: +353-1-6690030 Fax: +353-1-6690039 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org