Funding body's warning to golf ahead of merger vote

PUBLIC funding of Scottish golf will be re-considered if the proposed amalgamation of the Scottish Golf Union and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association is not adopted next week.

The warning was delivered by sportscotland after it was reported in The Scotsman yesterday that it seems unlikely the SGU will get the required 75 per cent support from the 16 men's area associations.

That is despite the two bodies seeking to unify having discovered that, of 532 clubs that have responded directly to them, more than 90 per cent are in favour of the proposal in full.

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"We are delighted to hear of the significant support for amalgamation from member areas, counties and clubs and hope it will be adopted," said a sportscotland spokesperson.

"We see the proposal as both fit-for-purpose and robust, giving Scottish golf the long-term opportunity to build on the excellent base of operations already in place.

"Should the proposal not be accepted then sportscotland would have to consider how and where public investment into Scottish Golf was placed and focused."

Just over a year ago, sportscotland pumped over 2 million into Scottish golf at various levels, including 1 million to help the country's best young players make the transition from amateur to professional.

"As an amalgamated body Scottish golf would provided a stronger platform for sportscotland and commercial sponsors to invest in the future of the game," added the sportscotland statement.

The SGU vote takes place next Thursday, the day after the SLGA puts the proposal to its members, with a "landslide" being predicted by its chairman, Shona Malcolm.

Asked how she will feel if the SGU vote fails, she told The Scotsman: "It will be frustrating because we have put a lot of our own time into coming up with a very robust proposal which is fair to everybody.

"However, we are hopefully going to deliver our part of the bargain and I would like to think that, even at this late stage, some of the areas will see sense. They (the men's Areas] are all saying they are in favour in principle but they need to put the money where their mouth is."

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The SGU also issued a fresh statement last night in the wake of The Scotsman poll, which indicated that as many as ten areas, perhaps even 11, look set to vote against the proposal.

It said: "Both the SGU and SLGA's affiliated golf clubs have voted overwhelmingly in support of the full proposal, with 91.9 per cent of the 532 clubs responding saying 'yes'.

"We believe that this sends a very strong message to the Areas who are, after all, supposed to be representing the views of their member club.

"We know of a number of clubs who would be extremely unhappy if their Area went against the views of the majority of their clubs. All the other stakeholders involved in the amateur game in Scotland are strongly in favour of the amalgamation proposal, including the SLGA's counties and clubs, the SGU's clubs, our biggest funder sportscotland and our other sponsors and partners.

"It would be hugely disappointing if those Areas voting against the changes find themselves isolated on this issue."