Cannon Fodder: Story behind three Scottish Golf executives to leave the post

Three chief executives have now come and gone since Eleanor Cannon took over as Scottish Golf chair in 2015. Here is her track record in terms of appointments for the top post:

Eleanor Cannon is now searching for her fourth chief executive since being appointed as Scottish Golf Chair in 2015. Picture: Scottish Golf
Eleanor Cannon is now searching for her fourth chief executive since being appointed as Scottish Golf Chair in 2015. Picture: Scottish Golf

HAMISH GREY

The Kiwi stepped down in March 2016, just three months after he was appointed to lead the new unified body following the amalgamation of the Scottish Golf Union and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association.

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Grey had moved to the UK in 1997 and joined the Scottish Golf Union the following year, succeeding the late Ian Hume.

In his time at the helm, Grey steered the SGU through troubled waters on two occasions.

First, he had to sort out the financial mess left by the ill-fated Scottish National Golf Centre at Drumoig, where the £4.6 million project was abandoned after losses amounted to around £1m.

Grey was then initially left frustrated as a bid to amalgamate the SGU and the SLGA failed at the first attempt before it was given the go ahead in 2015.

BLANE DODDS

The former Scotland international tennis player was appointed by Cannon in June 2016 and took up the post two months later after leaving his role as CEO of North Lanarkshire Leisure.

He'd previously held various senior management roles within sports management and marketing, the health and fitness industry and charitable trusts.

At the time of his appointment, Dodds was the chair of Tennis Scotland, a position he retained, apparently, while working for Scottish Golf, and also UK president of the European Capital of Sport Association.

The highlight of Dodds' reign was Scottish Golf entering a partnership with Aberdeen Asset Management, SSE Hydro and Bounce Sports Management to help promising youngsters make the transition from amateur to professional.

Through that, the likes of Grant Forrest, Bob MacIntyre and Ewen Ferguson all secured starts on the Challenge Tour as amateurs and quickly found their feet in the professional ranks.

Dodds resigned in October 2017 to take up the post of chief executive of Tennis Scotland, leaving Scottish Golf just six weeks before stakeholders were due to vote on a hike in the affiliation fee paid by club members.

ANDREW McKINLAY

He was appointed in February 2018, switching sports as he joined Scottish Golf from the Scottish Football Association, where he had worked in a number of senior management roles over the previous six years, including a stint as as chief operating officer and interim chief executive.

McKinlay, in fact, was offered the job by Cannon as he flew out to Switzerland to stand in for Stewart Regan at a UEFA meeting following his departure from the Hampden-based organisation.

After taking up his new post at the beginning of May 2018, McKinlay spent his first day announcing a sponsorship extension with Aberdeen Standard Investments. “I see it as a huge opportunity," he said of the post, "and I genuinely feel that if this job is done well, then it is the best job in Scottish sport as we are the home of golf."

In October that year, stakeholders gave Scottish Golf the green light to raise the annual affiliation fee paid by club members from £11.25 to £14.50, increasing revenue by approximately £500,000 in the process.

The following month, McKinlay described an App being worked on by Scottish Golf as a "game-changer that could potentially bring in millions" for the governing body and help member clubs at the same time.

However, that has not yet been fully launched and the announcement about McKinlay's departure on Tuesday came after Scottish Golf had been accused of failing to show strong leadership since golf clubs closed four weeks ago due to the COVID-19 crisis.