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£8m revenue drive

New plan to halt alarming slide in Scottish Golf

Blane Dodds

Blane Dodds (left), with Scottish Golf consultant Stephen McAllister, knows it’s a critical period for the sport  (pic: Craig Watson)

Scottish Golf has drawn up plans to halt a slide in the number of players and double its revenue to £8 million in the next four years.

The governing body for amateur golf hopes the strategy will also arrest falling sponsorship deals and decreasing government funding.

The plan includes a rise in fees, an international licence for foreign visitors playing at the home of golf and improving facilities to put golf clubs at the heart of their communities.

With just 11% of Scottish Golf’s membership below the age of 34, there will be a push to make the sport more attractive for families, especially women, who make up just 14% of the playing membership.

Thousands of golfers in Scotland will see their club’s annual membership fees increase if the proposals are voted through at a special general meeting in Stirling in December but Scottish Golf chief executive officer Blane Dodds is hopeful players will see the benefit of the greater good.

He will be writing to members and stakeholders to explain the benefits of the changes and he said: “The time is now to make a change and change for the better.

“December 2 is a line in the sand for Scottish Golf. It is a big opportunity for creating a new, more united direction for all the clubs.

“It’s all about the greater good so we can all play a part in unlocking the commercial benefit of golf in this country so we can create huge investment and get growth back into the game.

“Golf is a sport and needs to be enjoyed and be much more family orientated.

“We need more young people coming into the game. We have to enjoy the history, heritage and traditions but also move with the times.”

All club members pay a National Affiliation Fee of £11.25 to help support the development of the game and while Mr Dodds wouldn’t put an exact figure on the proposed increase, he said it would equate to  “a sleeve of golf balls” for its 211,000 members, the suggested rise bringing in substantially more to the coffers than the current £2.025m.

Given a packet of three balls can cost around £10, Scottish Golf members could see their affiliation fees double under the new proposals.

The number of people playing golf has dropped in recent years (pic: SNS Group).

It’s hoped an additional £1.5m would be generated by the new customer relationship management system, with a similar figure brought in by the new annual fee paid by hundreds of thousands of golfers from abroad.

“Scotland the Home of Golf is a massive pull to an international market but how much of that green fee money is re-invested back into clubs to support them and participation development performance programmes? None of it apart from that small green fee element,” said Mr Dodds.

“There are ways through our programming plans we can actually bring in new sources of income through the international licence and the tee-time booking module, and actually invest significant new funds in clubs that need it the most in areas and counties.

“There will be investment in clubs’ facilities, participation development programmes so we can actually spend more on club coaches doing more outreach programmes for grassroots participation, which in turn can have a knock-on effect at all levels.”

However, should the plans fail to gain sufficient membership backing, Mr Dodds told Daily Business that golf in Scotland would suffer, with the budget having to be slashed by £400,000.

“If 2 December isn’t successful in terms of new affiliation and new investment it is going to be very challenging for golf over the next few years in terms of reductions and lack of investment,” he said.

Mr Dodds hopes as many of the 587 golf clubs in Scotland will be represented at the meeting in December, saying: “It’s such an important decision for the future of golf.

“The vote is one of the most important in the recent history of Scottish Golf as it will dictate two different ways forward: investment and growth, or reductions.”

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