Game 'still exciting'
Gilbert joins European Tour as golf goes on without fans
Martin Gilbert: keen to back golf (pic: SNS Group)
Asset manager Martin Gilbert has taken up a non-executive directorship with the European Tour and spoke up for
Aberdeen Standard Investments, which he co-founded and led to a merger with Standard Life, has become Scotland’s key sponsor for both men’s and women’s Scottish Opens for a decade, as well as individual sponsorship of a number of professional players and the national amateur teams.
The 65-year-old, who is retiring from ASI, said: “I’ll still go along to the events.
“I’m on the board of The European Tour now, so that means I’ve still got a big involvement in golf, and I’m involved with (the BMW PGA) Wentworth, which is another tournament that’s gone from strength-to-strength.
“It’s relatively new, but it’s sort of almost an extension of what we were doing at Aberdeen. The Tour is very interesting, it wasn’t a difficult appointment to accept. I think they are also keen to have people on the board who have a business background.”
Gilbert, who was on the board at Aberdeen FC, said he was confident the game will pull through the current pandemic and that events will remain exciting even without spectators.
“Although we miss the spectators, it actually still makes huge business sense for us to continue with just the TV coverage,” he said. “Anyone watching the PGA at the weekend would have seen that you don’t actually need the spectators to get the excitement that you saw there.
“This event is broadcast in over a hundred countries around the world. So anyone that asks, why do you do this, it’s purely that. This event will go all around the world, and be on live TV, as well, which is great.”
On the need to remain disciplined in line with coronavirus restrictions, he said: “I’m hoping the golfers will be more responsible than the footballers, and I suspect they will. I really don’t foresee it being a problem and let’s hope not.”
Gilbert has been keen to support women’s golf, boosting the prize fund for the LSO closer to that of the men’s Open.
“I don’t think the problems have changed, even if golf has become more inclusive,” he said. “We have just got to make golf more accessible, even perception-wise.
“I once heard someone say that one club rule is one rule too many at golf. There are just too many silly rules that put youngsters off playing.
“Also, a lot of people just want to play nine holes. I go to the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre in Aberdeen, and it’s got a nine-hole par 3 course. It’s fantastic. You get around in an hour. Absolutely brilliant and improves your golf, as well.
“So I think it’s a mixture of that, and just make it more accessible. Make it less time consuming and fewer rules.”