Nine Scottish golf clubs see membership rise by more than 100%

Nine Scottish golf clubs saw membership increase by over 100 per cent last year as the sport’s current popularity continued in its birthplace.

In Scottish Golf’s annual report, which was delivered to members at Sunday’s agm in Fife, it was revealed that membership across the country had increased for the third year in a row.

The total playing membership of adults and juniors rose by 7.3 per cent in 2021, taking the figure to over 207,000.

Club membership in the home of golf had been declining until 2019 saw an increase for the first time since 2015 before the figure rose again the following year.

Two members enjoy a game at Murrayfield Golf Club, close to Edinburgh city centre. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

The latter coincided with golf being an option for people at a time when they couldn’t attend football, rugby or other sporting events and that overall total figure for the 568 affiliated clubs is up again.

“The good news story from last year’s growth in membership continues into 2021,” stated Scottish Golf’s report.

“A 7.3 per cent increase in total playing membership of adults and juniors, and a total playing membership over 207,000 is a confident endorsement of the game’s popularity in Scotland.

“Nine of our affiliated clubs saw an increase of over 100 per cent in their membership numbers.”

Scottish Golf chair Martin Gilbert has heaped praise on club officials and volunteers.

The news was welcomed by both Scottish Golf chair Martin Gilbert and chief operating officer Karin Sharp.

“It is testament to the popularity of golf that its resurgence has occurred during two of the most volatile and unpredictable years in recent history,” said Gilbert.

“We all thought we would be out of the pandemic woods by now, enjoying old freedoms and a return to some semblance of normality. We may have a little way to go, but hopefully the worst is behind us.”

Sharp added: “Looking back at 2021 is a reminder of how far we have come despite the challenges of a global pandemic.

“The achievements and resilience of Scotland’s clubs, golfers, volunteers and other associations connected with the sport over the last two years cannot be overstated.”

In a big boost, major winners Catriona Matthew and Paul Lawrie have been elected to Scottish Golf’s board along with Alistair Gray and Vic Skelton.

The governing body reported a surplus of £191,997 in 2021 compared to a loss of £18,350 the previous year while its Open Play membership scheme, laujnched last June, has attracted 1215 members.

“As Scottish Golf’s new Chair, I am enormously proud to have joined an organisation – and a sporting community - that has demonstrated resilience, energy and adaptability in ever-changing circumstances,” added Gilbert.

“Golf in Scotland is in rude health at present, due in no small part to the commitment of clubs, players, coaches and the team at Scottish Golf.

“Some real successes too, in performance, most notably in the women’s and girls’ games. Louise Duncan and Hannah Darling deserve special mention, having won the Women’s and Girls’ Amateur championships respectively.

“These victories garnered them invitations to play at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2022.

“In Junior Golf, we saw over 2,500 participants as part of the new National Junior Golf Framework.

“Ultimately, none of this is possible without the staunch and unflinching support of Scottish golf clubs, whose employees, volunteers and committees I would like to thank for their steadfastness in the face of continuing uncertainty.”

Since being launched in November 2020, more than 2 million WHS scores have been submitted, with over 400,000 of those being general play scores.

“Our digital journey continues apace, and we expect record numbers to be logging general play scores through the Scottish Golf and OpenPlay apps throughout the year,” said Sharp.

“The future of golf also seems bright: our most popular junior competition, GolfSixes, has seen very strong entry numbers this year, and further development of the National Junior Framework will make it easy for coaches and junior convenors to create engaging programmes for enthusiastic young golfers.

“One of our most important core functions – providing support through services, education and funding to our affiliated clubs – remains a focal point.

“We are delighted to report that all our funds are already highly subscribed, so the direct financial support to clubs we will provide this year will exceed last year’s by some margin.”

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