“I have enjoyed my time in Scottish Golf immensely and look back on my time with great pride,” said Grey, a 48-year-old Kiwi who moved to the UK in 1997 and joined the Scottish Golf Union the following year.
“I have been very fortunate to work with many dedicated people, volunteer and executive, throughout this time and their commitment to Scottish Golf has been an inspiration.”
Grey, who succeeded the late Ian Hume, steered the SGU through troubled waters on two occasions during his time at its helm. First, he had to sort out the financial mess left by the ill-fated Scottish National Golf Centre at Drumoig, where the £4.6 million project was abandoned after losses amounted to around £1m. More recently, Grey was initially left frustrated as a bid to amalgamate the SGU and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association failed at the first attempt before it was given the go ahead just under a year ago.
“Amalgamation is now achieved and the new body established,” added Grey of the historic move, which took place on 1 October last year and was followed just over a month later by his appointment as chief executive.
“Scottish Golf in is good health and has an excellent base from which the new board can consider the future strategy for golf in Scotland. It is therefore timely for me to seek a new challenge.”
In a recent interview with The Scotsman, Grey said he had been happy with the progress made so far by the unified body. “This has been an opportunity for us to take a hard look and say, ‘how can we make this even better’. That’s quite unique,” he said.
“The reality is that you’ve effectively got a new body and it almost breaks the shackles to say, ‘don’t look at the past, look at what we need for going forward’. That’s been the real emphasis, will continue to be and that’s exciting.”
At the same time, however, he held up his hands and admitted a blunder had been made by holding yesterday’s first Scottish Golf annual meeting on Mother’s Day. “It was set ages ago and I put my hand up that it wasn’t in my diary and then wasn’t noticed by anyone else,” he said.
Andy Salmon, Grey’s No 2, will take control until a new chief executive is appointed. “The new board of Scottish Golf will engage our clubs and our members and put in place the leadership we believe is required to help bring about the change we want to see in the game in Scotland,” said Eleanor Cannon, chair of the organisation.
“Hamish leaves Scottish Golf with our thanks for a significant contribution to the game in Scotland over a number of years and with our best wishes for the future. Our priority is to recruit a new chief executive and we have started that process. In the meantime, Andy Salmon, deputy chief executive, will report to me. The excellent work undertaken by the wider team at Scottish Golf goes on and we look forward to working with them.”
Salmon, who was previously with the PGA, or former SLGA chief operating officer Karin Sharp are obvious candidates if the post is filled from within, as is dynamic marketing and sponsorship manager Ross Duncan. Alternatively, someone like Iain Carslaw, a former Walker Cup player and ex-Scottish Amateur champion who has been hugely successful as a businessman, might be an interesting name in the frame if a fresh broom is set to sweep into Scottish Golf.
Grey’s appointment as chief executive of the mixed-gender body came as a surprise to some given that one of the clubs he’s a member of, Royal Burgess, is men only and rejected a move to admit women members just over two years ago.
He was criticised for joining the Barnton club in the middle of the amalgamation process, but was defended at the time by the then SGU chairman, Douglas Connon. “I do not see that Hamish Grey’s membership of a single-sex club has any bearing on his position as chief executive of the SGU,” said Connon. “The Equality Act allows for men and women to be members of single-sex clubs.”