In The Loop… January

Three things you need to know from the last few weeks in the golf industry…
1. England Golf’s new governance structure…

What’s happened: England Golf, based at Woodhall Spa, have voted to change their governance structure to meet the Government’s gold standard.

This will see the board reduced from 15 to 12 members, comprising of eight elected directors, three independent members and the chief executive. What does it mean? England Golf have been undertaking a number of measures to try and modernise how the game is run, while complying with the Code for Sports Governance.

That is designed to ensure that UK sports bodies lead the world with the highest levels of governance and transparency.  While that’s obviously beneficial, it’s also essential if you want to qualify for public funding. England Golf currently receives £8.48 million from Sport England, spread over four years.

Nic Coward, England Golf’s independent chairman, said: “From the outset England Golf has been a high-performing organisation leading the way for change and (this) vote is another positive statement.”

2. Are membership fees in Scotland going to rise?

What happened: More than 500 delegates from across Scotland descended on Edinburgh for Scottish Golf’s first national conference.
This was arranged after a Special General Meeting, which was due to discuss a controversial proposal to more than double the affiliation fees clubs play to the organisation, was pushed back following the resignation of former chief executive Blane Dodds.

The consultation for that has been extended until March.  According to reports, attendees at the ‘Future of Golf in Scotland’ event were told that the price of membership may need to rise in the future because of the ongoing funding crisis in the game.

What does it mean? Writing in The Scotsman, Martin Dempster reported board member Stewart Darling saying that clubs had been losing around 5,000 full members every year over the past 10 years.

He warned that without bringing in new blood, an average subscription could rise by 34 per cent in five years’ time and 84 per cent over a decade.  Arguing that some clubs were not welcoming to women and children, he said that was a “fundamental issue”.

Eleanor Cannon, the Scottish Golf chair, who has assumed an executive position in the wake of Dodds’ departure, was also reported to have described the membership situation as “urgent”. Proposals are now due to be discussed at Scottish Golf’s Annual General Meeting in March.

3. Can this sounding board help ensure healthier clubs?

What happened: Golf club managers from across the country, and the GCMA, have come together with England Golf to shape the business support it offers.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 10.51.31The Club Managers’ Advisory Group aims to provide “an ear to the ground, offering feedback and opinions on the programmes and resources offered by England Golf”. What does it mean? Creating stronger clubs “which are thriving, healthy businesses” is the aim and, quite rightly, England Golf say they require the views and needs of club managers.

Niki Hunter, the GCMA’s education coordinator, is part of the group, which will act as sounding board.  The group is chaired by Alistair Booth, chairman of Frilford Heath, and among the other members are Aldwickbury Park general manager Emma Clifford and Gary Pearce, general manager at Fulford, in York.

The pair are both former winners of the Golf Club Manager of the Year award.

By Marie J. Taylor

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