A group calling itself “The Requisitionists” is seeking support from the Scottish golf community to resuscitate a much-publicised proposal to increase the annual affiliation fee paid by around 170,000 club members.
The behind-the-scenes development, which is aimed at helping offset cuts in funding, has been in the offing for around six months and is being driven by a belief that a different outcome than a narrow “no” vote would have been likely first time around if Scottish Golf’s stakeholders had been provided with more information before casting proxy votes.
“The Requisitionists” are particularly keen to give Scottish Golf, the unified governing body, a chance to look at how it can raise income from “nomadic” golfers who pay-and-play at courses at cut-price rates at a time when club membership is declining. Made up of seven of the Area and County associations around the country, the group already has sufficient support to call a special meeting of Scottish Golf and is proposing to increase the affiliation fee to either £14.05 or £14.50.
A rise of £3.25, the higher figure is just 50p less than the one that was rejected by stakeholders at an agm in March, a decision that was met with “deep disappointment” by the Scottish Golf chair, Eleanor Cannon. She described the vote as “a real setback for all associated with the game in this country”, warning that job losses were likely as cuts of up to £450,000 had to be implemented.
The bigger figure proposed by “The Requisitionists” would not only counter a £505,000 cut in the funding Scottish Golf receives from SportScotland but also raise an additional £76,500, which the group wants to see used effectively for the good of the game at grass-roots level.
“This was triggered by comments from clubs, Areas and Counties at the end of the Scottish Golf agm last March,” said Allan Shaw, secretary to the Requisionist Group, which is made up of Glasgow, Lothians, North East, Perth & Kinross and Renfrewshire out of the men’s Areas and Midlothian and Renfrewshire among the women’s Counties. “We heard a lot more then than in the lead up to the agm that might have influenced the voting.
“We (the Lothians) spoke in favour of looking at the per capita issue again, as did Renfrewshire, and we have been talking about this on and off to find out what people are thinking. We also waited until the new CEO (Andrew McKinlay) had settled in and to see how receptive Scottish Golf would be to providing supportive information.
“We got support for a briefing paper straight away from seven-like minded bodies – five Areas and two Counties – and that has now been made public. By the end of this week, we will review the feedback, which has been mixed so far, and we will be announcing next week if the group want to call a special meeting.”
The aim is for the affiliation fee to be increased next year, but, with Scottish Golf having to provide 21 days’ notice of a special meeting, it will be a race against time for clubs to be given what “The Requisionists” describe as “reasonable warning” before setting their own subscriptions for the 2019 season.
“We already have sufficient support to call the meeting,” added Shaw, a former president of the Lothians Golf Association. “We need five per cent of the voting membership and have 70 votes, which represents nine per cent, between us at the moment.
“We are encouraged by support from different sizes of clubs as well and we have already had some preliminary discussions with Scottish Golf about providing ‘back up’ information to be published with the ‘Call of the General Meeting’, if that goes ahead, which we hope it will.
“It has come out in the first round of the new regional forums that there will be a lot more cutbacks next year if there is no increase in the per capita and we have requested to get information on what they will be and on what any extra funds would be used for. That was something that didn’t happen in the lead up to the agm in March.
“We are particularly keen to see systems developed to draw some income from ‘nomadic’ golfers which in itself will help to contain per capita fees in the future.”