Unified golf body still very much in the pipeline

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IT’S MORE than two years behind schedule but Hamish Grey is confident the bid to create a unified body to run the amateur game in Scotland is moving in the right direction and, ultimately, will bring it into line with most other European countries.

A messy first attempt led to the proposal to amalgamate the Scottish Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association being thrown out by the men’s Area associations around two-and-a-half years ago. That led to a working group being set up and an independent chairman, Alastair Thornton, being appointed, but, when the subject was raised at last month’s Lothians Golf Association AGM, a delegate claimed the bid was “threatening to be a mess again”.

Providing an update on the amalgamation talks, Grey denied that was the case and revealed a revised proposal was in the pipeline, though the SGU chief executive is keen the matter is played out in a less public fashion.

“I think it is frustrating for everyone that amalgamation hasn’t happened by now,” he admitted. “But everyone I talk to says it is the right thing to happen. We’ re not doing this for the next year; we are doing it for the next 50-100 years. So we are going to make sure we get that right – and that is right by everyone’s definition.

“That takes time and engagement and, though I know it is easy for people to sit back and say it should have been done by now it’s not as easy as people believe.

“There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. The working group are starting to write up a proposal, about which we’ll have more to say collectively between the SGU and the SLGA in due course.

“There’s a lot of passion out there – and that is great. We are making sure that everyone has a chance to input into this internally and, in the end, these people are the ones that will decide if it goes forward or not. With respect, we are not going to conduct this through the media.”

In many respects, the two bodies are already working as one. They have a joint-strategy and both Steve Paulding and Andy Salmon have roles in performance and development respectively that cover both the SGU and the SLGA.

“If the amalgamation is agreed, it is going to be quite a simple transition in my view,” added Grey, who declined to comment on one of his own clubs, Royal Burgess, holding a referendum at present to see whether it should consider admitting women members.