Scottish Golf has significantly lowered its proposed hike in the national affiliation fee – but is being warned the rise is still going to be “difficult to stomach” for the majority of golf club members.
Initially set at £24 – an increase of £12.75 – before that controversial proposal was scrapped towards the end of last year, the new figure being put on the table by the governing body is £15. That will be put to a vote by stakeholders, a group that includes close to 600 affiliated clubs, at Scottish Golf’s annual general meeting at Dalmahoy early next month.
Aimed at raising £4 million over four years to help combat funding from sportscotland having been slashed, the initial proposal was put forward by Blane Dodds before he quit as Scottish Golf’s chief executive to take up the same post at Tennis Scotland.
That, along with other proposals to introduce a national CRM system and the implementation of a golf tourist tax, had been due to be voted on at a special meeting in December before it was scrapped.
Instead, as part of Scottish Golf deciding to extend a period of consultation before finalising a new strategy, it took the form of a national conference – the first of its kind in the home of golf – in Edinburgh.
Delegates were warned that paying £24 would feel “like a walk in the park” compared to seeing their annual subscription rising by more than 80 per cent in ten years’ time, a claim made by Scottish Golf board member Stewart Darling.
However, fears that may have pointed to the national body, which is being run by chair Eleanor Cannon, pictured, until Andrew McKinlay, the newly-appointed chief executive, takes up his post in May, pushing ahead with a big rise have now been allayed.
Despite that, though, one golf club committee member has said that he still believes there will be opposition to the proposed £3.75 rise. “I personally think that the increase is still going to be difficult to stomach for the majority of golf club members as, although the actual amount is small, the percentage increase is 33 per cent,” Steven Brand, who is the match secretary at Aberdour, told The Scotsman.
“For club members to accept such a fee, Scottish Golf must address the issue of transient golfers who are not affiliated to golf clubs and they must also look to charge fees relative to a club’s turnover to help out the smaller clubs. Many members don’t see what benefit they receive from the affiliation fee, although through the match secretary role, I have experienced first hand how Scottish Golf staff help with handicap queries, rules queries, etc.
“At the moment, golfers are paying to be members of clubs, and then being charged an additional amount to be affiliated to Scottish Golf. Golfers who simply play golf at a different course every week pay neither membership fees or the affiliation fee.
“Scottish Golf have to address such issues, and they need to forget about the CRM and centralised tee booking. I would also note from their accounts that, despite funding and subscriptions falling, salaries at Scottish Golf have increased year-on-year.”