Presidential Address to National Convention 2024

Presidential Address to 2024 National Convention


   A Chairde  


                I am delighted to welcome you all to the Annual Convention of our organisation, Pitch and Putt Ireland. On behalf everyone in our game I thank you for joining us today, those who attend this convention represent the interest of our members and players throughout the country. 

 I would especially like to welcome our Patrons, Padraig O Shea and Christy Broe who are with us today, and to our Past President Mervyn Cooney, I am delighted that Phil Allen is with us today so we can once again express gratitude for all she and Vincent have done for our game. Welcome also to Michael Murphy, Fippa President and to our auditor Michael Sargent and Hon Auditor Sean Minogue and other invited guests. We also welcome Dwyne and Miriam to their first convention, and I would like to thank them for their preparations for today's gathering.


To say the past year has been on change in our sport would be an understatement, the retirement of both Michael and Anne at the end of June left a void which needed to be filled, I announced at last year's convention our intention to appoint a CEO to help take our sport forward in a modern and dynamic manner, after a lengthy recruitment process overseen by the Accension recruitment agency we whittled over 50 candidates down to a shortlist of 6 and from there we appointed Dwyne Hill as our new CEO, at the same time we conducted interviews for a part time office administrator and we appointed Miriam Valentine to that position, the learning curve has been steep for both in getting to grip with our sport but I am more than happy with the progress we have made in a short time. 


As you will see in our accounts the financial situation of our sport is quite healthy, a large part of this comes from an application made under Dormant Account funding which must be used for specific programmes as outlined in the application, we also facilitated the allocation of €28,500 in electricity grants to our clubs and I want to thank our treasurer Breda for overseeing this scheme, as in 2023 we have also received a further Covid Recovery grant of €50,000, we intend to use this to further develop and promote our sport as we move forward in 2024. 



In 2023 we made a large amount of sponsorship available to encourage County/Regional boards to revitalise the Youth section of our sport, we are very happy with the efforts made so far but more needs to be done, to that end we will once again provide the funding to sponsor U16 Strokeplay and Matchplay Championships in each County /Region in 2024, an additional caveat this year is the required entry of teams to Provincial U16 Inter County Championships in order to access the funding. Our ladies' game is also undergoing transition and the appointment of a specific Ladies Officer should aid us in communicating with Ladies and ensure they have a voice in how their side of our sport goes forward, the fact that four ladies now sit on the NEC signifies the willingness and importance that we place on growing this side of our sport. 


I want to thank everyone who helped us in 2023 to run our Championships and competitions, from clubs to volunteers, referees and our players, nothing is possible without any of them, we had some fantastic performances throughout 2023 and I want to congratulate all our Champions on their victories. May I also congratulate our number 1 ranked players in Chrissie Sheedy and Damien Fleming, no easy feat to attain those top spots, our ranking system however needs overhaul and is being examined at present to make it relevant going forward. 

2024 will see major change in our Championships, this year will see the advent of a National Matchplay for Intermediate and Junior Gents, and we have also changed qualifying to a weekend to facilitate those working and traveling midweek. 

This year all County/Regional Matchplay and Strokeplay Champions will automatically qualify for Provincial Championship finals and those Champions will in turn qualify for the relevant National Championships, unless they are already qualified and as long as they are still in the same grade, we hope this will encourage entries to all Championships and give those who missed out in qualifying an incentive to play. 


Our Handicap system as always garners plenty of talk and discussion where ever we meet members, the most important thing to ensure the handicap system works for all is participation, the more members who play and return scores the better, one thing to note, apart from extreme cases such as players who have had a major illness or surgery for example we will not be making anymore manual increases to members handicaps during the season, clubs have had the best part of 7 years to apply these and it now comes to an end, the system will recommend changes at the end of the year as long as players are active in the system. 

The number of non-compliant clubs within our game has dropped from 27 in 2022 to 12 in 2023, encouraging but more to be done and the same rules will apply as in 2023 for those clubs, the only negative feedback were from players who are active in supporting Opens and Scratch Cups who felt they were being harshly treated and many simply did not play until their clubs became compliant, this year we propose that any player whose club is not compliant in the system will themselves receive .1’s back once they have entered 5 scores in the system thru Club or Open Singles competitions. 


Work on our new Strategic Plan is ongoing and we have engaged an outside agency to oversee this important work, our CEO Dwyne is heavily involved along with NEC members and questionnaires have been distributed today for Clubs and Boards to fill in and return, we will also be having a number of Zoom and in person conferences with stakeholders to formulate the new plan, it is important for everyone to engage to give us a true picture of what members want for our sport in the future. 


During 2024, I have sought and received help and advice from a great many people within our game, I want to thank each one of them for all they do as it is a selfless and unseen contribution. I also want to thank all those who help at our Championships and Competitions to ensure the smooth running of the same. 

I want to thank my fellow officers for their tireless work throughout the year, we may have the occasional difference of opinion but our focus is and always will be on the betterment of our sport, I need to pay tribute to both Jason O Connor and Stephen Ennegues who are stepping down as NEC officers after many years of service, both are staying involved in various aspects of our sport and on behalf of us all I thank them for their immense contributions. 


Finally, as we move forward in 2024, I want to wish all our members the best and may the year be successful and rewarding for all, the one thing I would like is for us to be and stay positive about the future of our game, let us put aside the negativity and drive this game forward. 

Think positive, act positive and we will be successful. 


Go Raibh Mile a Maith Agat  


Mark Keohane 

President Pitch and Putt Ireland