Shocking report kick-starts radical change

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 5, 2012 01:24

Golf in Scotland is to receive a radical facelift following a new survey that highlights the dire state of the country’s golf clubs.

The ‘National Facilities Survey’ of 498 of the country’s 597 clubs has been described by the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) as ‘the most comprehensive survey ever of the country’s golf clubs and golfers’. It found that 89 per cent of Scottish clubs are actively seeking new members and half have not made a profit in the last 12 months, while there are a lack of good practice facilities and golfers only have limited access to coaches.

The SGU has responded to the report, which also found that 69 per cent of Scottish clubs have introduced new membership categories to attract young adults, by stating it will create a ‘masterplan’. This will see an investment of £7.2 million, funded by a mixture of private and public sources, by 2020 into the creation of 50 ‘development centres’ that will offer improved coaching to junior golfers.

The aim of the centres, which will be existing practice facilities, will be to turn children, typically aged 12 and 13, that have been introduced to golf via the junior golf programme, clubgolf, into members of golf clubs.

All golf clubs will be encouraged to become ‘introductory centres’, in which they welcome beginner golfers to learn the game and improve. However, the vast majority will not receive funding to achieve this.

Andy Salmon, the SGU’s development manager, said: “We’ve been aware for some time that we needed a masterplan for all of the golf facilities in Scotland, and this comprehensive survey identifies the priorities for investment.

“We’ve been successful at putting clubs in the hands of kids and teaching them the basics of the game, but less successful at getting them to improve their game, get a handicap and join a golf club. The development centres will address that.

“Plus, historically, clubs who have been considering investing in their practice facilities have come to us and asked what guidance we can give. But we couldn’t really give them any.

“Now, though, we can give them the guidance as to the facilities we’re looking to develop in our plan. We will be able to direct funding where clubs are committed to good practice in terms of governance, business planning, access for juniors and environmental standards.

“We will also ensure that the investment will meet the needs of the individual golfer, reflecting their feedback which included a desire for better practice facilities, improved clubhouse facilities and a better quality of course.”

Salmon also reiterated the SGU’s call, made at the end of last year, that no more golf clubs should be built in Scotland.

“We don’t need any more 7,500-yard championship courses,” he said. “If there are going to be new courses, there’s a need for shorter courses such as six holes, or three loops of six holes instead of two loops of nine holes. All the research tells us that the number one barrier to golf is time – even ahead of money.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 5, 2012 01:24
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  1. Mork July 7, 10:57

    Hahaha uve got no chance your only saying what most people are thinking!

    Reply to this comment
  2. John July 6, 11:33

    Brian, grow a pair and get over it, move on, if you cant take criticism don’t make comments. Especially comments that are going to upset people.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Brian Inglis July 6, 10:31

    I wouldn’t expect to see Vivien Saunders and the AGCO being knocked down in the rush from “North of the border” as she quaintly describes the nation which gave the game of golf to the world.
    I ran a proprietary facility and associated members’ club in Scotland for several years and can’t recall any communication from this organisation in all that time – these were the “Boom” years of course…….we paid our taxes while our course was full and our membership was full with a waiting list. Out of touch established clubs looked upon us as “Noisy Neighbours” and everything in our garden was rosy. We had never heard of the AGCO….

    As for Vivien’s tireless re-hashing of the VAT issue (even in this case posting a rambling post on an unrelated article on golf in Scotland) I’m not going to comment – the last time I did I was the subject of some crass and tasteless comments from other contributors, including Vivien herself. My request for an apology from her has gone unheeded and I’m led to believe that this is a rather fanciful hope on my part. You never know though…..

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  4. Vivien Saunders July 5, 18:13

    Andy Salmon says that over half the clubs in Scotland haven’t made a profit in the last 12 months. The member-owned clubs are supposed to be “non-profit making” – hence their VAT exempt membership subscriptions. So they shouldn’t be making a profit. Leave commercialism where it belongs to those who charge VAT, pay their corporation tax and pay their business rates in full.

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  5. Vivien Saunders July 5, 18:10

    We have been pressing the Government for reduced rate VAT of 5% for sport, asking them to level the playing field on tax in sport, campaigning with a court case to minimise the distortion of VAT in golf and sport and raising funds to assist the proprietary golf sector that helps and encourages new golf. We have asked the R and A for help over this for years, and asked Scotland to provide us a list of the proprietary clubs in Scotland. We had a meeting in London with the Treasury on behalf of proprietary golf clubs, particularly the small and newer clubs. We have a list of all such clubs in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Scotland could not even give us a list of the small proprietary clubs to take to the Treasury. There is a very serious issue in golf. That is that the large member-owned clubs have competed so commercially for green fees, driving the costs down and failing to declare their green fees for corporation tax that they have effectively bankrupted the game. There are instances of large member-owned clubs taking £1 million a year in green fees and failing to pay a penny in tax. Meanwhile the new clubs catering for beginners are being driven to the wall. Add to that a handicap system that doesn’t inspire adults to have lessons and attempt to improve, and we have a game that is dying on its feet in many parts of the UK. When Scotland, the Home of Golf, realises the game is in trouble perhaps something will be done.. When the Ladies’ Golf Union ran women’s handicapping the game for women thrived. Now that has been eroded into a pastime for the casual player rather than a serious sport.
    We have been begging the Government to adopt Reduced Rate of 5% for golf (all sport) and tried to get golf going again. Our volunteers at the Association of Golf Course Owners are doing everything we can and would love some support from North of the border!!

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  6. Stephen McTaggart July 5, 09:22

    dont think you can read into that sean, there are reasons for a survey to happen I think than for the sake of a survey

    Reply to this comment
  7. James Greenfield July 5, 09:21

    So we get money put into 50 clubs and the rest watch their juniors leave to go there. Very good for those 50 clubs, the rest?

    Reply to this comment
  8. Stephen McTaggart July 5, 09:21

    Do you recon that someones funding for junior golf is about to run out and they need a new injection? #obvious

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