Portmarnock Golf Club, Dublin, will host the next assembly of the Irish Links Initiative (ILI) on Tuesday 18 October 2011. The forum, which was first established in March 2009, will bring together a large number of delegates from Irish links golf courses to discuss the preservation and future management of this classic form of the game. Played over firm and fast-running greens and fairways, amongst natural rough, Irish links have produced several Major winners. The ILI was established to safeguard the unique approaches to management which are required for Ireland’s seaside courses. As such, the ILI’s core objectives are:
- to maintain and conserve the heritage of Irish links golf
- to enhance the links experience in its natural raw state
- to promote and drive the education of links management
- to exchange and share information amongst links courses
- to create greater awareness of Irish links courses
- to promote Irish links golf locally, nationally and internationally.
Brian Coburn, President and Founder of the ILI, commented: “Links are a finite resource and Ireland is lucky enough to have over 30% of the world’s links golf courses”. Aside from the importance of the Irish links landscapes, these golf courses also make a notable contribution to tourism; "Although links only make up 10% of Ireland’s golf courses, they account for 90% of its total golf tourism”, added Coburn.
Delegates at previous assemblies of the ILI have enjoyed practical sessions out on famous links courses including Royal County Down, County Sligo, Ballybunion and Portstewart, with discussions around topics such as coastal erosion, gorse management and playing performance.
The R&A has supported the ILI since its inception, as a component of its objective to promote the sustainable management and development of golf courses. “Ireland holds some incredibly important golfing terrain, both historically and also in ecological terms”, noted Steve Isaac, The R&A’s Director – Golf Course Management. “The management of these courses requires a very specific approach and the ILI is working to ensure that this knowledge is developed and spread throughout the links course management community in Ireland”. At the upcoming event, The R&A will be showcasing information from their new website, www.randa.org/thegolfcourse, while also discussing a simple method for measuring the performance of putting surfaces.
The 2011 ILI conference will be the second visit to Ireland for The R&A in recent weeks, preceded by an extremely positive meeting with the Golfing Union of Ireland’s Greenkeeper Training and Ecology Committee at the GUI HQ in early October. The GUI is one of a number of European national golf associations that is proactive in supporting The R&A’s stance on sustainability and this relationship is expected to yield many examples of good practice from the Emerald Isle, which will be available from this website in due course.