New governance guide for UK golf clubs launched

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 6, 2019 11:51

A new governance guide for UK golf clubs has been issued as part of a drive to modernise and grow the game.

Created by key stakeholders including the home golf unions, The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and The R&A, the downloadable guide is ‘a strong template which can either be adopted or adapted to meet needs of individual organisations,’ said a spokesman.

The document provides tools, activities, discussion points and best practice ideas for clubs to take on board.

Clubs can also find pointers on how best to tackle the challenges of an evolving membership structure, constantly-changing legal requirements and all-important safeguarding procedures.
“We know golf club membership in Wales overall has recently gone up by almost 1,000, reversing a downward trend,” said Wales Golf chief executive Richard Dixon.

“Good club governance is essential to change this trend for the long term. We are fully committed to supporting our clubs to do this, combining the support of our development team with this guide.
“We also know that increasing membership has been led by clubs with good governance, there are clear lessons in how they are showcasing the considerable benefits of club membership. They have adapted to cope with modern society and satisfy the needs of their members, as well as attracting new people to our sport.

“The Wales Golf strategy ‘Everyone’s Game, Anywhere,’ is focused on inclusive golf and stronger clubs. Governance is a key part of that and we have worked hard, along with our partners, to produce Version 2 of this guide.

“It will be added to the resources and support available through Wales Golf to help clubs operate as more effective businesses.”

A well-run club is a thriving club and the ‘9-holes of Excellent Governance’ feature of the new guide will help clubs to improve sustainability both financially and administratively, added the spokesman.

Richard Flint, England Golf’s executive director, added: “Encouraging and ensuring excellent governance has always been a key focus of England Golf.

“This is part of a wider strategy to inspire more people to get into golf and enjoy the many sporting and health benefits associated with our sport.

“In addition to the resources within this updated governance guide, our delivery team can assist clubs by providing tailored support to meet club needs and help grow their business.”

In an ever-changing marketplace, clubs can learn to manage resources, effectively recruit for staff and committee positions and meet the needs of members and golf consumers by following the good governance blueprint.

Clubs – no matter how large or small their membership, how modern or traditional their facilities – can learn how to set their own standards of excellence to drive improvement and, at the same time, develop the culture of the organisation.

The R&A’s backing for the governance guide underlines its ongoing commitment to the modernisation of golf.

“We all have a role to play in growing golf and if we are to achieve that goal then we have to modernise and make the sport more appealing, accessible and inclusive,” commented Duncan Weir, executive director – Golf Development and Amateur Championships.

“Good governance in the running of clubs is a key element of ensuring that golf is attractive both to existing members and potential new members.

“This guide is designed to promote best practice in governance and act as a reference resource for clubs to help them continue to improve and develop their management processes.”

The varied case studies from England, Scotland and Wales also provide real-time reference points to demonstrate the practical benefits of adopting good practice at all levels of club management.

The guide can be accessed here:


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 6, 2019 11:51
Write a comment


  1. Neil December 6, 12:03

    Open letter to those producing “A Governance Guide for Golf Clubs”.

    I have read and appreciate the hard work and long hours that have gone into producing this comprehensive leaflet.I am sure it is invaluable for Private Members’ Clubs.

    However I would strongly suggest and advise that the title be changed as a matter of urgency to

    “A Governance Guide for Private members’ Golf Clubs”

    A very large part of the guide does not apply to proprietary clubs and ,in fact, is just the opposite of what they need to do to thrive and grow.

    It implies that the report’s sponsoring bodies consider Proprietary Clubs are inferior and failing in their operation, and puts distance between the named governing bodies and proprietary clubs.

    This is surprising as I believe that the number of proprietary clubs is approaching that of Private members’ Clubs, and I believe proprietary Clubs and green fee golf is probably in a healthier state and is a “purer” form of golf provision.

    I am quite sure this discrimination was never the intention and I hope my comments do not offend those who have prepared an otherwise excellent paper .

    In fact it would not surprise me if many of those sponsoring the report are quite puzzled by my strong reaction. That misunderstanding of proprietary clubs by the sponsors forms the basis of Golf Proprietors’ strong feeling that they have no place at the table of GCMA and England Golf (and certainly CONGU).

    It would be wonderful if a similar guide could be produced by the same sponsors for Proprietary Clubs, and that we, (proprietary clubs), should be invited to contribute. I feel the sponsors of this guide would be enlightened by such a project.

    There is no way ,for example, a successful Proprietary Club would treat golfers the way CONGU has over the last few decades, or encourage such large unwieldy committees with grandoise names as the guide suggests.

    I hope my observations are helpful and that you will give the reports title your urgent attention.

    Seasonal Greetings to all those reading this!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter November 4, 11:36

    Great to hear ! Half the battle is recognizing the need for change and refusing to accept poor leadership as the norm ! Great success with the approach and guide !

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: