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Job losses inevitable

Scottish Golf facing cuts after fee increase rejected

Andrew McKinlay

It’s going to be a tough start for Scottish Golf’s new chief executive Andrew McKinlay (pic: SNS Group)

Scottish Golf is bracing itself for further budget cuts and job losses after members rejected the proposed increase to the annual affiliation fee.

As part of the governing body’s revised strategy, increasing the fee by £3.75 from £11.25 to £15 was outlined to help cover the organisation’s shortfall in sportscotland investment of £350,000.

However, with a majority of over 50% required when the vote was held at today’s annual general meeting in Edinburgh, the proposed affiliation charge increase was voted against by 270 votes to 235 (with 10 abstentions).

It means Scottish Golf continues to face significant investment challenges going forward to run the organisation, support clubs and grow participation.

Overheads have already been reduced by £700,000 since amalgamation in October 2015 – overseeing a staff headcount reduction from 48 to 32 – with more overall cuts thought to be between £300,000-£450,000 now expected over the next 18 months.

Admitting more job losses are inevitable, Scottish Golf chair Eleanor Cannon said: “We are deeply disappointed that we will be making more cuts at a time when we should be growing the game not just to make clubs more sustainable, but to hand the game over to our children and their children in a much better state than we found it after 10 to 15 years of decline.

“Following the optimism that emerged from the first ever ‘Future of Golf Conference’ in early December, we were hopeful of continuing our momentum so today is a real setback for all associated with the game in this country.

“The board will now look again at the budget and our focus will remain on the future of the game in Scotland and the legacy we leave future generations.

“The culture of decision making in Scottish golf must change and there are tough choices ahead.

“This has been a bruising experience for many of us, but our resolve to strengthen golf in Scotland remains unwavering.”

Scottish Golf’s current voting structure is one vote per registered club. Each County and Area is allocated 10 votes each, thus carrying 44% of the overall voting share.

New chief executive Andrew McKinlay starts his position in May and will be taking up his post at a particularly challenging time.

“Under the leadership of Andrew, we will look to make this game better and stronger, but there is no doubt that today is a disappointment for the many Clubs, Counties and Areas who supported the change, as well as Scottish Golf’s board and the staff,” added Ms Cannon.

“It is clear golf needs to adapt to the changing demands of modern lifestyles, embrace families and dramatically change cultures and behaviours to attract new audiences, particularly the female non-golfers and the younger generation.”

The annual general meeting also saw the appointment of June McEwan as Scottish Golf’s new president, the first female to hold the role following amalgamation in 2015 and a fitting reward for her work as a volunteer across various levels of the game. Malcolm Mitchell was appointed as senior vice-president and David Fleming as junior vice-president.

With Malcolm Robertson, Roz Cuschieri, Stephen Docherty and Neil MacDonald all coming off the board following the end of their terms, four new individuals were successfully nominated.

Brendan Dick, currently chair of BT Scotland and chair of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, joins the board along with Sean Duffy, the newly-appointed CEO of The Wise Group. Bill Woodley, a senior executive with Deutsche Bank who sits on the board and Audit Committee of the Tiger Woods Foundation, also takes up a board position, joined by Lorna Brown, a procurement and supplier management professional, most recently with Sainsbury’s and the Student Loans Company.

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