Grants totalling €130,000 have been allocated to 12 emerging Irish professionals with Gavin Moynihan and Stephanie Meadow receiving the largest individual grants of €20,000 each. Additionally, 32 starts on the Challenge Tour have been secured with 27 already allocated among eight pros.
“It is incumbent on Team Ireland to focus on these young, talented players and our ambition is to help them progress on to the main tours,” said Des Smyth, Team Leader of Team Ireland Golf. “Playing on a pro tour is not cheap. We are trying to prepare these players to make the grade. It does not happen instantly. It takes a few years.”
Smyth led a fundraising drive during 2017 and the success of the first ever Team Ireland Golf Pro-Am has resulted in a funding increase of €40,000. Team Ireland Golf was established in 1999 and, with three new players joining the scheme in 2018, it brings the total number of players who have received support to 100.
The three newcomers are John Ross Galbraith, Stuart Grehan and Conor O’Rourke. All three players turned professional in 2017 and will benefit from grants worth €6,000 each plus four Challenge Tour starts.
“The invitations for Challenge Tour events are the most important element for the players,” said Smyth. “They provide a stepping stone for the players to try and make their mark.”
As well as providing direct funding for players, the CGI make a significant investment in the Irish Challenge – one of two Challenge Tour events on Irish soil. It is through this investment that Team Ireland secure playing invitations for other events on the European Challenge Tour. This year’s Irish Challenge takes place at Concra Wood from October 4-7.
“From my understanding a lot of players just would not be able to continue without these grants,” continued Smyth. “The grants are important because when you have some financial support it frees up more of your time to focus on your golf.”
As part of the Team Ireland support package, all golfers can use the practice facilities at the GUI’s National Golf Academy.