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Golfing community encouraged to input to amalgamation consultation proposal

Scottish golf’s governing bodies tell you why they should come together for the good of the game

AS the proposal to amalgamate the Scottish Golf Union and Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association is discussed, the chairs of the SGU and SLGA, Tom Craig and Beth Paterson, come together to set out the positive impact amalgamation can have on the game in Scotland should it be confirmed.

SCOTLAND’S golfers, clubs, areas and counties are being encouraged to give feedback on the proposal to amalgamate the Scottish Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association.

Back in mid-March, plans to amalgamate into a single, unified governing body made significant progress after a consultation document was sent to all of the nation’s clubs, areas and counties for consideration.

A series of consultation meetings with stakeholders have since been staged by the SGU and SLGA throughout Scotland over recent months, with feedback from all parties welcomed up until Thursday 31 July.

Amateur golf is the largest participant membership based sport in Scotland. There is no other sports governing body in Scotland which maintains gender segregation. Golf is lagging behind modern thinking and it is vital to bring golf into the 21st century. It is essential for the future health of the game.

To provide further information on the consultation process and encourage the golfing community to feedback on the document, Scottish Club Golfer sat down with Tom Craig and Beth Paterson, for an in-depth Q&A on the subject.

Can you provide further background to the Amalgamation Proposal?

The ‘Consultation Proposal’ is the result of the endeavours of the Amalgamation Joint Working Group, formed in 2013 under the independent chairmanship of Alastair Thornton and made up of representatives from the SGU and SLGA.

The group’s remit was ‘to propose the basis for amalgamating Scottish Golf Union Limited and Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association Limited into a single, inclusive, modern, democratic and fit for purpose governing body.’

Having met regularly gathering input, the Group sent their Proposal for Amalgamation to all voting members of the SGU and the SLGA, as well as to clubs, in mid-March.

Thereafter, all feedback will be considered by the Working Group before it finalises its proposals to go to the Boards of the SGU and SLGA, and then to the membership of the two bodies for approval later this year. We appreciate it has taken us time to reach this stage, however we are committed to the long term future of our game’s
governance.

How can people feedback on the Proposal?

We feel that significant progress has been made in producing the ‘Consultation Proposal’ and the right approach is being taken by consulting widely at this time.

We are seeking comments and constructive criticism of the proposals from all interested parties: club members, golf club committees, area and county associations, government agencies, and all

Scottish golfers. Please submit any thoughts you would like the Joint Working Group to consider by 31 July 2014, to Mrs Karin Sharp, Scottish Ladies Golfing Association at k.sharp@slga.co.uk or Mrs Ruth Hughes, Scottish Golf Union at R.Hughes@Scottishgolf.org.

How vital is amalgamation to the whole of Scottish amateur golf?

We are one of only three golfing governing bodies in the world which are gender separate. A single national governing body will give a powerful message about the direction and approach of the leadership of our sport. It is a message that will be more appealing to younger people who are our future players and golf club members.

With the increasing difficulty of attracting people into golf club membership, the sport, more than ever, needs to be aligned with today’s culture and society. If golf does not reflect societal change, it cannot hope to attract the next generation of members, or even keep the current generation.

Having a single governing body where all golf clubs, together with the men’s Area and ladies’ County associations are voting members, will provide a much more conducive environment for Clubs to engage with their associations and governing body, and vice versa.

Amalgamation would also provide unified marketing, greater attraction to commercial partners, government investment (including sportscotland), enhanced efficiency and improved media coverage. Amalgamation will enable Scottish Golf to become a mutually supportive partnership among clubs, areas, counties, board and staff.

The SGU & SLGA are already working closely...

The reality is that the SGU and SLGA are now working more closely than ever before. We have a joint strategy, our boards and senior staff have recently had a joint planning meeting, there are joint staff meetings and many of our staff work across both organisations. So, if and when amalgamation does happen, it should be a simple transition.

What are the broad consequences of not amalgamating?

The negative perception of golf being a divided game and not welcoming to all, will be reinforced and have a damaging effect on clubs striving to attract new golfers and increase membership. The decline in club membership will be virtually impossible to reverse if the game is not seen to be meeting the expectations of our younger people and future generations. There is a pressing need for Clubs to be supported at a time when membership is falling, especially within the women’s game, because of long term social trends.

The sport will be perceived in many quarters, including media and the government, as being out of touch with today’s generation and not being reflective of the wishes of men and women playing sport in Scotland. Failure to amalgamate could also have a severe impact on future Government related funding, as well as sponsorship. There will be very significant risks to the sustaining level of income available to carry out the governing bodies activities, which would impact across all areas from support to clubs through to coaching and championships.

Can you explain the proposed membership and voting proposals?

It is proposed that the membership of ‘Scottish Golf Limited’ will be: The Clubs, Men’s Areas and Ladies’ Counties. It is proposed that each member Club will be entitled to one vote. It is proposed that each Area and each County will have 10 votes (equivalent in aggregate to approximately one third of the overall vote). This recognises the contribution these organisations make to the running of the sport, and reflects the important role which Areas and Counties have, and will continue to have, in the middle tier of Scottish golf.

Golf Clubs are the key to the future success of Scottish Golf. It is vital that they are engaged in the wider issues facing Scottish golf. Enfranchising them and encouraging them to participate in Scottish golf is a key element of that.

Can you explain why there is gender representation?

It is desirable that golf is recognised as an inclusive sport for all: men, women, boys and girls, i.e. the whole family. Importantly, the female voice has to be heard at the highest levels in Scottish golf and women will be represented on the Committees and Board of the proposed ‘Scottish Golf Limited’. It is recognised that there are too few women on company boards.

How strong will the organisation be financially and in terms of quality of governance?

Both organisations are in good financial health and there is no financial impediment to an amalgamation of the bodies. It is recognised that a key benefit of amalgamating SGU and SLGA is the potential it opens for more efficient operations, better promotion of the sport and attraction of more resources into the organisation so that men’s, women’s and junior golf can flourish.

For further information, the ‘Consultation Proposal’ and related documents are available to view on both the SGU and SLGA websites.

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