Coronavirus: Scottish Golf urged to help clubs by refunding affiliation fees

Scottish Golf has been urged to help member clubs in their fight to survive during the coronavirus crisis by offering refunds on the affiliation fee paid by every club golfer in the country.

Scottish Golf, the governing body in the home of golf, is paid an annual fee of 14.95 per member by affiliated clubs. It is being encouraged by some of the Area associations to offer refunds during the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Scottish Golf
Scottish Golf, the governing body in the home of golf, is paid an annual fee of 14.95 per member by affiliated clubs. It is being encouraged by some of the Area associations to offer refunds during the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Scottish Golf

The call has been made by some of the Area associations in Scotland after deciding to either reduce or waive a separate affiliation fee paid to them every year by clubs through membership subscriptions.

While the Area fee is minimal, clubs pay £14.50 per member to Scottish Golf, which equates to £7250 for a club, for example, with 500 members.

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The Scotsman has learned that Argyll & Bute, Fife and Stirlingshire golf associations have all taken decisions to either waive or reduce the local affiliation fee and, at the same time, are urging the governing body to do likewise with the national charge.

"Argyll & Bute has taken a decision to waive our affiliation fees for this year," said secretary Graham Bolton. "We have postponed three of our events with difficulties forseen in rescheduling in what is likely to be a shortened congested season.

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"Our clubs will be facing a year of limited income and will have to make difficult decisions. Although the sums involved are not significant, we feel it is a move which will go a little way to easing their financial burden.

"Nobody knows what the impact of Covid-19 will be and it is unfair on the Area to ask for payment from our member clubs if we are unable to deliver any services.

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"Hopefully things will resolve to get some sort of golfing season and we will endeavour to reschedule our events if possible. The area has enough reserves to bear any costs we incur this year."

Fife and Stirlingshire have both informed member clubs that the area affiliation fee is being reduced by 50 per cent, with refunds forthcoming for clubs that had already paid up.

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"There's nothing too altruistic in all this," said Fife secretary Dave McPherson. "We do recognise that a) if we are not really providing a service, then it would be wrong to take money for nothing and, more importantly b) we recognise that some clubs are already struggling so a period with no income coming in will make things very difficult indeed. A refund might help a little.

"When we assess the situation, probably at the end of May or beginning of June, we will make a decision whether any of the events can successfully be completed, and, if the feeling is that this is unlikely, then we will offer the other 50 per cent back. We do very much hope that this will not be the case and we will get back golfing."

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On Stirlingshire's show of support to member clubs, secretary Gordon Campbell said:

"Our view is that although the amount of money may be a drop in the ocean to member clubs, it may help to keep staff in position in the short term.

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"Our member clubs have overnight lost their bar catering and visitor income and we don't wish to burden clubs further. We will be running less competitions have reduced spending on team matches etc.

"We have also written to Scottish Golf Limited asking them to consider a similar gesture."

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A spokesperson for the governing body told The Scotsman that it did not have any comment to make on the matter at the moment.