In conversation with… Scottish Golf COO Karin Sharp

Scottish Golf’s Chief Operating Officer has had an eventful 15 months. She talks coronavirus, independent golfers and the future of the game with Steve Carroll… Coronavirus brought huge upheaval for everyone and Karin Sharp was no exception. Scottish Golf’s Chief Operating Officer found herself leading the governing body when Andrew McKinlay stepped down as Chief Executive in April 2020. She steered the sport through the first lockdown and was instrumental as golf stayed open in Scotland when later restrictions closed it in every other part of the UK. Karin’s first year at the helm has also seen the development of OpenPlay, the first independent golfer scheme to be launched, and a revamp of both the nation’s performance and junior programmes. We caught up with her to look back over a tumultuous first 15 months in charge… You took on leading Scottish Golf through one of the most challenging periods any of us have ever witnessed. Clearly you had a lot of experience within Scottish Golf but how did you get through it? It has been a challenging year across the board within Scottish Golf.  We had to make a lot of big decisions at a time of significant uncertainty and many of the early challenges we had to face included furloughing more than half of the staff team and still managing to provide a service to the golf clubs with a much smaller team operating. But, equally, in the very early days it was about providing strong representation for the sport with government and, in the first instance, to say ‘let’s try and get things back open again’. As Chief Operating Officer, how do you deal with that? When you took on Andrew’s role, clubs were shut, staff were furloughed, people were working remotely. And you’re still trying to coordinate the sport and get it ready for a restart… There was strong communication across the team, particularly with those who were continuing to work within the business and who, in most cases, were taking on expanded roles and having to do an element of cover outwith their usual area of expertise and authority.  Whilst the team were all fairly established within the organisation there were many who hadn’t worked cross departmentally much before so strong and regular communication across the team, keeping everybody tight and ensuring we had a high awareness of workloads and there was support for each other. If one person was asked to pick up certain areas or particular tasks, and if the volume was starting to ramp up, we had somebody else waiting in the wings that could have their back - because we were having that strong level of conversation and ensuring that, across the board, we were being supportive, rolling the sleeves up and getting on with it as a strong unit that did what it took to service our membership through a challenging time. It was also really important to keep the team that were furloughed in contact, up to date and up...
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