Scottish Golf is to extend its period of consultation to finalise a new strategy until March next year, therefore cancelling a scheduled Special General Meeting (SGM) planned for 2 December.
Instead, the date will be used to hold an open forum to engage with golfers, clubs and stakeholders to debate the future direction for golf in Scotland, with a view to creating a collaborative set of proposals for the governing body’s Annual General Meeting in March 2018.
The SGM was scheduled to allow members to vote on key recommendations that would enable the governing body to implement a four-year strategy, by delivering much-needed investment into the game and making golf clubs – and the game as a whole – more sustainable.
Those remain the core strategic objectives, but in light of the departure of Chief Executive, Blane Dodds, and having consulted with a wide range of stakeholders in recent weeks, the Board believe the immediate priority should be securing a new leader for the organisation.
In a statement released today, the Board of Scottish Golf said: “In the interests of transparency, the December meeting will be a public event to bring some of the many private conversations that take place about the future of the game to a wider audience. It will be a conference-style event, with the opportunity for all stakeholders to attend.
“The Board is pleased that the proposed strategic plan has created wide-ranging discussion among all those who care passionately about our sport. Critical to this consultation period is listening to our members, which is why we believe the date already scheduled in the diary for the SGM should be utilised to provide a platform for debate.”
Executive Chair Eleanor Cannon met with the Board of sportscotland earlier this week and they are supportive of the modernisation of the game in Scotland. They are pleased with the objective of the organisation to be self-sustaining, removing the over-reliance on external funding.
Stewart Harris, sportscotland’s Chief Executive, said: “Scottish Golf made a well-constructed presentation to sportscotland’s board on Wednesday 25 October, and we are supportive of the governing body’s direction of travel, which is inherently consistent with our governance framework.
“We remain committed to working closely with Scottish Golf and supporting them in reaching their objectives of increasing self-sustainability and modernising the sport. This autumn, we received an ambitious strategic plan from the governing body and we look forward to discussing it with Scottish Golf and their stakeholders at the public event on 2 December.”
The process of appointing a new Chief Executive for Scottish Golf is already under way and the Board has been pleased by the calibre of potential candidates who have already expressed an interest. The position will be formally advertised shortly, as the Board seek to identify and appoint the best candidate as quickly as is practicably possible.
The statement from Scottish Golf continued: “It is imperative that we utilise this two-way conversation to discuss and address the very real challenges facing golf now and in the future. On that note, it should be said that the Board has decided to use the organisation’s reserves to bridge the immediate funding gap. However, this is not a long-term approach and we will seek to rebuild those reserves in the coming years.
“On 2 December, we want to engage golfers in debate and discussion on a number of subjects. These include the key trends and challenges facing golf in Scotland and the potential impact of these on club revenue and membership fees; what feedback and surveys suggest members increasingly value and demand for their membership fee; addressing our ageing demographic profile and low uptake of membership amongst young people and women; embracing digital and technology capability to enhance the experience for all golfers; reviewing governance and structure; and engaging our communities to grow club revenue.
“In light of the well-documented cut in public funding and continued decline in club membership, it is essential that we hear as many perspectives as possible as we look to address significant challenges now impacting the game in Scotland.
“This is the backdrop against which changes will be proposed to the game’s shareholders in 2018. We will do so with one objective: to secure the future for our game in the Home of Golf.”