Former Waterford boss O’Donoghue tees up chairmanship of golf umbrella group

John Roche, director of golf and business development at Confederation of Golf in Ireland, with Pádraig Harrington and Redmond O’Donoghue, chairman of the confederation board, at the unveiling of the board’s development plan

John Roche, director of golf and business development at Confederation of Golf in Ireland, with Pádraig Harrington and Redmond O’Donoghue, chairman of the confederation board, at the unveiling of the board’s development plan

Fri, May 9, 2014, 01:04

Redmond O’Donoghue, the former Waterford Wedgwood chief executive who chaired Fáilte Ireland until last September, has swung in behind the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI), the new sports industry group he chairs.

O’Donoghue, who took a keen interest in golf tourism when at the State tourism authority, is an enthusiastic amateur but he’s no Tiger Woods, bless him. He told me during the week of a funny conversation he had last year at a dinner with the golf pro Jamie Donaldson, who won the Irish Open in 2012.

“He said I knew lots about golf and asked me my handicap. I told him it it was 20. He looked at me funny and said: ‘Oh. But what used it be, what was the lowest?’ I told him 19.” No worse than the rest of us.

The CGI is run day-to-day by John Roche, the founder and former chief executive of media tech company Eurotek. It has released a development plan for the sport, launched last week by Pádraig Harrington, focused around attracting new players and helping the proliferation of clubs that sprung up during the boom, many of whom are now struggling.

One of the confederation’s brighter ideas is to put together a team of development officers to go into clubs that require help, to advise them on how to attract new members and turn clubhouses into more family-friendly, and hence profitable, environments.

Roche, a respectable 13 handicapper, says the CGI is planning to commission an economic impact study to assess how much golf is worth to the economy. A study of the sport’s infuriating impact on the emotional wellbeing of anguished amateurs wouldn’t go amiss either. I’m sure O’Donoghue would agree.

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