Scottish Golf to benefit from R&A £7m funding package

Cash will be used to support clubs in crisis as result of coronavirus shutdown
Martin Slumbers: The R&A wants golf to thrive at grassroots. Picture: PA.Martin Slumbers: The R&A wants golf to thrive at grassroots. Picture: PA.
Martin Slumbers: The R&A wants golf to thrive at grassroots. Picture: PA.

The R&A has launched a 
£7 million funding package, The R&A Covid-19 Support Fund, to help golf deal with the impact of the pandemic.

The fund to aid golf clubs and facilities facing financial difficulties during the crisis will be largely aimed at national associations and other affiliated bodies in Great Britain and Ireland.

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It means Scottish Golf, for instance, will be eligible for a chunk of the money as it continues to support clubs in the home of golf after being closed since 23 March.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “The pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on golf and many clubs are facing dire financial situations through no fault of their own.

“Golf is in our DNA and we want to see the sport continue to thrive from grassroots right through to the top level on the professional tours. We have a responsibility to do what we can to help in such a crisis.

“The R&A Covid-19 Support Fund will enable national associations and other key bodies to provide support to some of their members.

“We know that many challenges lie ahead, but club 
golf is the bedrock of our sport and hopefully this fund will help to begin the process of recovery.”

A statement said the R&A is “working with its national associations and other selected organisations on communications, with each body being responsible for controlling and allocating its share”.

The R&A reinvests the proceeds from the success of The Open in growing and supporting golf and has launched the new fund despite this year’s event having been cancelled.

The St Andrews-based governing body already provides financial support to a wide range of organisations in addition to national associations, including the European Tour, the LET, the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland and the Golf Foundation.

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In February, Slumbers delivered his most vocal assessment of the club scene since taking over the R&A reins from Peter Dawson five years ago, pulling no punches as he reflected on dwindling membership and course closures.

“If you were to say that my first five years was the commercial side of the business, the Open and what we’ve done with that, I think the next phase will be much more about participation,” he said in a media briefing.

“But we have to change. Grassroots is going to struggle unless the game changes. If you look at the traditional way of looking at the health of golf in GB&I, the traditional way is the number of golf club members. That’s about a million golfers.

“But, if you look at how many people consume golf, so 18-hole golf, 9-hole golf, driving ranges, par-3 courses, adventure golf, TopGolf, all of those aspects, that group of people is 10.2 million people in GB&I.

“There’s only two sports in GB&I that have more people who participate in it if you look at golf that way. That is swimming and the gym. That’s it. That’s 18 per cent of the 
GB&I adults. It is also a group that is much more diverse. It is also a group that is much younger.”

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