Golf club members have been warned that paying a £24 affiliation fee to Scottish Golf will feel “like a walk in the park” compared to seeing their annual subscription rocket by more than 80 per cent in ten years’ time.
The governing body’s proposal to more than double the £11.25 currently paid by every club member was met with strong opposition, leading to a scheduled vote on it by stakeholders being put on hold.
Delegates at Saturday’s first Scottish Golf national conference were told, though, that there is still a possibility that £24 will be the figure on the table at the organisation’s annual general meeting in March.
Eleanor Cannon, Scottish Golf’s chair, described the situation facing the game in Scotland as “urgent” due to declining membership and the board member tasked with trying to increase participation pulled no punches either.
“This is not going to be fixed by a silver bullet bought from Amazon,” said Stewart Darling, one of the keynote speakers at an event attended by more than 500 delegates in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. “It is going to take time and needs everybody to do it. We need to act collectively and can’t give up when the going gets tough. If we keep going as we are, the game as we know it is not going to be here for kids and that, for me, would be a travesty.”
Responding to one delegate claiming that the proposed affiliation rise should be scrapped, he added: “The harsh reality is that whether it is £15 or £24, if we don’t fix it and you are a club member then your fees are going to be 34 per cent higher in five years’ time and 84 per cent higher in ten years’ time and that will make £24 look like a walk in the park. So we need to fix the problem in the game.”
Cannon acknowledged at the start of Saturday’s event that there appeared to be a “disconnect” between the governing body and its stakeholders but said after an event lasting four-and-a-half hours that she felt everyone in attendance were now on the “same page”.
She added: “The work starts here. The team at Scottish Golf will sit down next week and plan how we communicate all of the outcomes from today. The reality is that what we have created today is a force for good for Scottish Golf based on our current reality.
“I am not suggesting for one minute that there wasn’t a force for good out there for Scottish Golf, but it was perhaps based on a mixed sense of what the current reality was.
“In the coming weeks we will continue to consult about all of the ideas that have come forward. I asked you to suspend disbelief and concentrate on the future and I thank you sincerely for doing that. It has been an incredibly uplifting experience when faced with the challenges for the game we all love.
“Let’s look forward to working together in a guiding coalition to build golf, to build participation and help clubs to become stronger and to look forward to a very healthy future for this wonderful game.”