Blane Dodds:'˜Time is now to make change for the better'

Blane Dodds is 'confident' golf club members in Scotland will cough up an estimated additional £10 in their subscription fee from next years onwards as part of a plan to give the sport a £4 million boost.

Blane Dodds, CEO of Scottish Golf. Picture: Craig Watson
Blane Dodds, CEO of Scottish Golf. Picture: Craig Watson

That target also includes a proposal to start charging foreign visitors a licence fee to play courses in this country and the introduction of a new national tee-time booking system, with Scottish Golf’s chief executive urging clubs raking in money to stop adopting an “I’m all right Jack” approach by buying into it.

Dodds has found himself having to deliver an “ambitious” new strategy for the amateur game’s governing body in Scotland after seeing sponsorship revenues fall, Sportscotland funding slashed from £1.5m to circa £700,000 and income from affiliation fees drop due to club memberships declining over the past few years.

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He will be forced to reduce his next budget by £400,000 if a proposal to raise the per capita fee from its current rate of £11.25 by the “equivalent value of a sleeve of golf balls” doesn’t get the green light in December. Dodds reckons no one involved in the sport in its birthplace wants to see that state of affairs and is promising
rank-and-file golfers they will see a return for supporting him as the money he plans to raise will be ploughed into clubs around the country.

“There’s a line in the sand,” said Dodds as he unveiled his strategy during a media briefing at Ratho Park, having held a series of club seminars earlier in the year. “Let’s be open and honest, if we don’t get this over the line, then I’ll be making £400,000 cuts in the our budget next year as resources are diminishing.

“There will be a lot less club support and less money spent on participation and performance programmes. No-one wants that. The time is now to make change and change for the better.”

By raising the per capita fee – the actual figure will be released directly to clubs over the next few days – Scottish Golf would have funds to follow in the footsteps of countries such as France by introducing a customer registered management system that would be mandatory at every affiliated club.

According to Dodds, it would save clubs £5-6,000 per year, as well as having the potential to bring in £1m per year to the governing body through sponsorship.By charging a nominal fee for an international licence for foreign visitors, an additional £1.5m would be raised per year, with the same amount in the pipeline if Scottish Golf claimed just £1 every time booked through the proposed new national system.

“Absolutely,” replied Dodds to being asked if he believed the vote on this strategy was one of the most important in the history of the sport in Scotland. “It is going to dictate two different ways forward – investment and growth or reductions. Clubs are the bedrock of growing the game and we want to reverse trends because clubs have suffered. A hundred are very successful, a hundred are at risk due to serious issues and the middle tier of three hundred are just surving. We want them to grow and will be setting up both a golf club development fund and a greenkeeping fund if we can get this over the line.

“The Royal Troons, Cruden Bays and Royal Dornochs are saying they are happy with their current systems. Of course they are as they have loads of money coming in and they are investing that the way they want to do it. But there are only going to be a few clubs left if that’s the argument against this strategy. We are all in this together and can all benefit from Scottish golf growing.”