Chief executive Blane Dodds urges decision-makers to get behind plans to change financial structure of national governing body
By SCG Newsdesk
SCOTTISH GOLF Chief Executive Blane Dodds is urging members to support changes to the governing body’s financial structure that he believes will create much needed and significant investment to the grassroots game in Scotland.
Investment which, as Dodds says, will be “reinvested back into the clubs, Areas, Counties and programmes to develop growth in the game that everyone will benefit from.”
Having spent a year in post following his appointment by the new Board of Scottish Golf last August, Dodds has been challenging some of the traditional ways of thinking to bring about positive change within the sport. Tasked with delivering a new four-year strategy for the organisation to address a downturn in clubs and membership, Dodds embarked on a consultation with members and partners.
The strategy programme has been driven by the detailed research available to the golf industry via The R&A and other partners, the feedback from results in the organisation to date (continual reduced membership at club level), and Scottish Golf’s own draft plans to address the issues and deliver growth.
Dodds said: “Many of the solutions have already been delivered by other European countries and this has led to significantly more resources being realised which Scotland is currently missing out on. I would like to rectify that for Scotland, The Home of Golf.”
The members are expected to vote at a Special General Meeting in November. It is understood that Dodds and his team at Scottish Golf are describing in detail how the new resources will be used to invest in key areas of support in clubs, in a new National database to better market and communicate to all members and prospects locally and nationally, and in performance coaching via Areas and Counties as well as National Performance programmes.
One of the major topics up for debate in clubhouses up and down the country is the national affiliation fee, which currently stands at £11.25 per adult member; this is one of the lowest per capita charge among European golfing bodies. Scottish Golf believes a change in the way the fee is administered would help alter perceptions of how the funds are being invested to grow the game.
“We want to also encourage golfers to see it as their contribution to the development of the game in Scotland, which is then reinvested back into supporting clubs and other grassroots initiatives so that those investing can see the benefit of their investment,” said Dodds.
“The important issue here is that we can generate significantly more funds than currently being invested and we have identified areas that will generate significant commercial return to increase investment and deliver sustained growth.”
Dodds refers to the Customer Relationship Management system that Scottish Golf suggest is necessary to “unlock the potential of Scotland’s largest sports membership.”
“We have many ways we can develop our clubs and bring new resource, ideas, marketing activity that will deliver results and benefit our clubs,” he said.
“There are lots of fantastic opportunities if we can get clubs working together with us more collectively. Embracing new technology through not only the national Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), but also developing an online tee-booking platform and a golf club member APP could be a real game-changer for the organisation if we have the chance to invest in these areas
“That in turn would create new opportunities for sponsors and commercial partners to support us, which can then generate more investment for the game.
“Having met with my counterparts across the world in recent months, we’re one of the few countries who don’t operate this type of system, so we’re falling behind. A CRM system can be a fantastic tool for clubs and ultimately save them money on what they’re currently spending on software licenses with their current providers. If we invest our resources in this platform, we’ll remove the financial burden from the clubs, but add more benefit and income for all in the process.”
With the consultation process concluding this month with the collation of stakeholder feedback, representatives from Clubs, Areas and Counties will be invited to attend a Special General Meeting, to be scheduled for November, at which they’ll vote on the proposals.
Dodds added: “The time is now to make a change. If we don’t then the same performance and lack of investment will be the drivers over the coming years. I want to ensure that the years of under investment and lack of growth is reversed so that we all can benefit from a successful, growing sport so important to the culture and communities of Scotland.
“If we are not successful in making the case for change via investment rather than reductions in investment then we will require to seek further cost cutting measures in line with the resources available to us.”
It is noted that sportscotland cut its funding to most governing bodies of sport in Scotland and golf was included in this.
Dodds said: “I would urge voters to consider the bigger picture and the long term future of the game. I fully appreciate that clubs are operating in challenging times, but I firmly believe Scottish Golf can be the catalyst for positive change to help all clubs embrace the modern times and get back on a journey of growth that we can all benefit from.”
Look out for further communication regarding Scottish Golf’s plans to benefit Clubs, Areas & Counties and club members at www.scottishgolf.org