Coronavirus: Scottish Golf urged to lobby government on behalf of worried clubs

Scottish Golf has been urged to lobby the government to provide financial support for clubs fighting for survival during the coronavirus crisis.

Secretary Duncan Ireland has hit a brick wall trying to come up with financial help for Duddingston Golf Club, one of the leading venues in Edinburgh

The plea was made by Duddingston Golf Club secretary Duncan Ireland after he hit a brick wall trying to come up with financial help for the Edinburgh venue.

It emerged last week that a one-off grant of £25,000 is available from the government for leisure businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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However, Duddingston is one of several capital clubs not eligible for that due to its rateable value exceeding the £50,999 cut-off.

"We can find no scheme that will help Duddingston Golf Club at present," said Ireland. "We are collecting subscriptions just now and, funnily enough, not many want to commit to paying. How can we possibly claim anything back for this lost revenue?

"We will all be looking for Scottish Golf to lobby on all clubs' behalf to try to get further help. The government must look into this because, if not, then I fear that a lot of clubs may literally not be able to survive.

"Our only hope just now seems to be trying to get a business interruption loan from the bank."

At the weekend, Crail Golfing Society manager David Roy said he feared the current closure of courses will be a "bridge too far" for some clubs in terms of being able to survive.

"There are a significant number of golf clubs currently running at a deficit and, in the absence of them being able to sell off assets or get help from a few wealthy benefactors, there is going to be an unwelcome number of clubs going to have to shut the door at the end of this," said Roy.

His comments have been echoed by Paul Gibson, the immediate past president of the Lothians Golf Association.

"Many clubs will experience extremely difficult times, indeed, are currently experiencing difficult times," he said.

"While club membership is still popular with many people, this will become more critical when the Covid-19 Virus passes.

"Membership subscriptions are the life blood of golf clubs and without them there is no future. We now need to look 'outside the box', and identify other ways of encouraging, firstly, participation, then retention in golf.

"There are initiatives aimed at girls, boys and ladies and that is commendable and should continue.

"But very soon we need to find a 'light bulb moment' which reaches out to full/senior members with a view to retention of membership and perhaps initiatives which will encourage them to stay and not to join the already high number of nomad golfers.

"The whole structure of golf membership needs to change with the times, and the current situation we find ourselves in, may spring us into action.

"Golf at the 'top end' is iconic throughout the world, and will survive this current and other challenges, too.

"However we must act to help and protect the 'bread and butter' of this sport, ie, the club members, or face an extremely hazardous and desperate future. Let's all remember that without club members, there will be no clubs."