Scottish Golf scraps December vote on new strategy

Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris met with Scottish Golf chair Eleanor Cannon and chief executive Blane Dodds on Wednesday
Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris met with Scottish Golf chair Eleanor Cannon and chief executive Blane Dodds on Wednesday
Have your say

A vote on a new four-year strategy for Scottish Golf will no longer take place on 2 December.

A special general meeting planned for that date in Stirling has been cancelled by the governing body.

Instead, it will now be used to “debate the future direction for golf in Scotland” after Scottish Golf extended its consultation period for the new strategy until next March.

The move follows a series of developments, including the resignation last week of the organisation’s chief executive, Blane Dodds. The man who was fronting the proposed strategy is leaving to take up the same post at Tennis Scotland.

The decision also follows a Scottish Golf board meeting earlier this week, as well as chair Eleanor Cannon and Karin Sharp, the corporates services director, meeting with sportscotland chiefs yesterday.

In a statement released today, the Board of Scottish Golf said: “In the interests of transparency, the December meeting will be a public event to bring some of the many private conversations that take place about the future of the game to a wider audience.

“It will be a conference-style event, with the opportunity for all stakeholders to attend.

“The Board is pleased that the proposed strategic plan has created wide-ranging discussion among all those who care passionately about our sport.

“Critical to this consultation period is listening to our members, which is why we believe the date already scheduled in the diary for the SGM should be utilised to provide a platform for debate.”

It is believed the new strategy, which included a proposal to increase a national affiliation fee from £11.24 to £24, was dead in the water after being met with widespread opposition from members and clubs.

The statement continues: “It is imperative that we utilise this two-way conversation to discuss and address the very real challenges facing golf now and in the future.

“On that note, it should be said that the Board has decided to use the organisation’s reserves to bridge the immediate funding gap. However, this is not a long-term approach and we will seek to rebuild those reserves in the coming years.

“On 2 December, we want to engage golfers in debate and discussion on a number of subjects. These include the key trends and challenges facing golf in Scotland and the potential impact of these on club revenue and membership fees; what feedback and surveys suggest members increasingly value and demand for their membership fee; addressing our ageing demographic profile and low uptake of membership amongst young people and women; embracing digital and technology capability to enhance the experience for all golfers; reviewing governance and structure; and engaging our communities to grow club revenue.

“In light of the well-documented cut in public funding and continued decline in club membership, it is essential that we hear as many perspectives as possible as we look to address significant challenges now impacting the game in Scotland.

“This is the backdrop against which changes will be proposed to the game’s shareholders in 2018. We will do so with one objective: to secure the future for our game in the Home of Golf.”

According to Scottish Golf, sportscotland are “supportive of the modernisation of the game in Scotland” and “pleased with the objective of the organisation to be self-sustaining, removing the over-reliance on external funding”.

Stewart Harris, sportscotland’s Chief Executive, said: “Scottish Golf made a well-constructed presentation to sportscotland’s board on Wednesday, and we are supportive of the governing body’s direction of travel, which is inherently consistent with our governance framework.

“We remain committed to working closely with Scottish Golf and supporting them in reaching their objectives of increasing self-sustainability and modernising the sport.

“This autumn, we received an ambitious strategic plan from the governing body and we look forward to discussing it with Scottish Golf and their stakeholders at the public event on 2 December.”

The process of finding a successor for Dodds, who is not due to start at Tennis Scotland at the beginning of next year, is already under way.

“The Board has been pleased by the calibre of potential candidates who have already expressed an interest,” states a press release.

“The position will be formally advertised shortly, as the Board seek to identify and appoint the best candidate as quickly as is practicably possible.”