The Irish Links Initiative (ILI) was set up in 2008 with the aim of ‘Protecting, Preserving and Promoting’ links golf in Ireland. The Initiative was the brainchild of Brian Coburn, the greens convenor of Royal County Down. He saw the unique asset that is Irish links golf courses. He also saw the need to ensure that those courses were preserved for future generations as true links courses with their unique landscape and other features. He was conscious that as golf course agronomy developed there was a real danger that the very nature of the true links could and often was at risk. Happily his thoughts were shared by others.
An initial meeting to discuss the subject of links golf in Ireland attracted over 100 people all associated with links golf courses countrywide. And out of that meeting the Irish Links Initiative (ILI) was born.
That initial meeting was supported by the Golfing Union of Ireland, Failte Ireland, the GCSAI and the R&A all of whom undertook to support the ILI going forward. Subsequent to the meeting the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and equipment manufacturer also came on board.
The ILI set out its objectives at that meeting, a series of objectives that are still its guiding principles;-
- 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 among links courses
- To create greater awareness of Irish links courses
- To promote Irish links golf locally, nationally and internationally
Speaking at that time, Brian Coburn said that true links golf was one of the really great experiences for anyone involved in the game. “If we are to preserve the heritage of our great links courses we believe there needs to be more education for links golf courses superintendents and course managers. We feel there is a real opportunity to share information and ideas on low maintenance links green keeping. We consider the future is all about less interference as we preserve this wonderful asset.”
Since its foundation the ILI has hosted a series of educational meetings every year mainly aimed at course superintendents and golf club managers.The emphasis has been on preserving Ireland’s unique links in their true state by following ecologically sound agronomy programs and where possible a policy of least interference.