Borders U-turn over amalgamation vote

THE Borders Golf Association will now be backing the amalgamation proposal for Scottish amateur golf after being accused by clubs that it was set to put forward an "undemocratic view".

The late U-turn ahead of Thursday's vote by the 16 men's Area associations in Scotland follows representatives of a handful of clubs in the Borders reacting angrily to what Scottish Golf Union Council member Jack Keeney told The Scotsman last week.

He claimed that he had phoned all 21 Borders clubs and, on the strength of the response he had received, the BGA would be voting to reject the proposal on the table for the amalgamation of the SGU and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association.

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That view was challenged by representatives of Melrose, Cardrona and Torwoodlee through Les Wallace, David Millar and Keith Allan respectively. And, according to Kenney, the BGA has now done an about-turn. "There has been a lot of activity down here in the last few days and we will now be voting 'yes' on Thursday," he said last night.

While unwilling to say much more, it is understood the matter has created a divide among officials and clubs in the Borders that also appears to be prevalent in some other Areas over the proposal.

Before Kenney confirmed the change of stance, Wallace said: "I have just got back from a golf trip to Portugal and have been reading The Scotsman reports on the proposed amalgamation. I was astonished to read that the Areas were against the proposals and that they could stop this progressing by using their votes.

"My views are firm on this and I was able to explain the proposals to the Melrose committee. The result was that we voted in favour. I also know through contacts that the Border clubs voted in favour by a considerable majority.

"I have also made enquiries on how the BGA voted and cannot believe the BGA Council could vote 'no' given the vote of the member clubs."

In a letter to Keeney and BGA secretary Ron Scott, Wallace had asked why it did not arrange a meeting of the Borders clubs to discuss the vote of their area. He also questioned the grounds of the BGA Council's likely vote against the proposal when the member clubs in the area appeared to support it. "It had no mandate to vote 'no'," said Wallace. It has been claimed, in fact, that the Borders clubs voted 15-5 in favour of the amalgamation and Wallace said it would be "reckless" if the vote on Thursday did not reflect that view.

Cardrona secretary Millar claimed that Keeney had not contacted his club when he spoke to The Scotsman. "In a telephone conversation (with Keeney], he said that contrary to the report he had not contacted all the Borders clubs but sufficient to provide him with the 'no' vote," said Millar.