Financial support for the golf industry in England and Scotland: The latest coronavirus updates

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 31, 2020 16:01

Sport England has announced £195 million of funding while some golf clubs in Scotland have reported that they have been unsuccessful in applying for a one off COVID-19 grant of £25,000.

In England, Sport England, which has provided funding to England Golf, has confirmed that it is making up to £195 million of funding available through the ongoing pandemic crisis.The package is additional to any funding support provided by the government and is made up of the following:

  • A £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which will be opened immediately for local clubs and community organisations to bid into. Grants between £300 and £10,000 are available.
  • A £5 million pot for existing partners to bid into if they are facing specific and immediate financial difficulty.
  • An additional £55 million to support sectors during an ongoing period of restrictions, to fund new and innovative ways to keep people active and then, when the period of restrictions is over, to help organisations get back to business and adjust to a different environment.
  • A £115 million rollover of current funding into 2021/22 to give long term certainty to over 100 well established partners who play a vital role in the delivery of sport and physical activity in England.

Alongside this, given the cashflow concerns in the sector, Sport England has also agreed that it will consider requests to release six months of the coming year’s funding (50 per cent of awards) to its partners, meaning additional funding will be available sooner.

Sport England is also working closely with local authorities and the organisations that run their leisure facilities and has been actively supporting this part of the sector to access the government support now available.

The package follows Sport England’s recent decision to offer major flexibilities to those who currently receive funding – including the ability to change timings, KPIs, targets and conditions, and redirect money to new activity in response to Covid-19. It has been drawn up following significant consultation with organisations across the sport and physical activity landscape in England.

Sport England CEO, Tim Hollingsworth said: “As the body responsible for the growth of sport and physical activity at a grassroots level, we have an important role to play both in ensuring that we support those with short term cashflow concerns and immediate loss of income, as well as those facing medium and long term survival challenges and financial difficulties.”

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: “We are doing everything we can to keep Britain active and support the sport sector through these challenging times. This multi-million-pound package of public funding will not only help local sports clubs facing financial concerns but also encourage people to stay fit at home.

“When it is safe to do so, we want our brilliant community sport organisations to bounce back and we will work alongside Sport England and others to make that happen.”

Scottish golf clubs have called for sportscotland to follow suit.

“I think it is terrific that Sport England have responded to the crisis so quickly and announced these funding measures that undoubtedly will be required by various clubs throughout England in the coming months,” said Gullane Golf Club secretary Gordon Simpson.

“Physical activity will play such an important part in the recovery of communities once the lockdown has been lifted and we need to try to safeguard the futures of every local bowling, golf or football club around.

“This will be tremendously difficult in this economy so this assistance can be the difference between carrying on or not.

“Obviously I sincerely hope that sportscotland come out with something similar in the very near future as it could be the savior of many clubs throughout Scotland.

“I just wish that we were the driving force behind this rather than waiting with baited breath to see if Scotland follows the example set out by England Sport.”

Ratho Park secretary Robert Dobbie added: “My reaction would be that it’s good news for sport and sports clubs across England, hopefully sportscotland won’t be far behind announcing their package.

“Sport in Scotland is facing the same difficulties as sport in England.”

Meanwhile, also in Scotland, some clubs have stated that they have been unsuccessful in their application for a one-off grant of £25,000 that is available from the government for leisure businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to The Scotsman, Duddingston Golf Club ‘is one of several’ golf clubs not eligible due to its rateable value exceeding the £50,999 cut-off.

“We can find no scheme that will help Duddingston Golf Club at present,” said secretary Duncan Ireland. “We are collecting subscriptions just now and, funnily enough, not many want to commit to paying. How can we possibly claim anything back for this lost revenue?

“We will all be looking for Scottish Golf to lobby on all clubs’ behalf to try to get further help. The government must look into this because, if not, then I fear that a lot of clubs may literally not be able to survive.

“Our only hope just now seems to be trying to get a business interruption loan from the bank.”

Paul Gibson, the immediate past president of the Lothians Golf Association, added: “Many clubs will experience extremely difficult times, indeed, are currently experiencing difficult times.

“While club membership is still popular with many people, this will become more critical when the virus passes.

“Membership subscriptions are the lifeblood of golf clubs and without them there is no future. We now need to look ‘outside the box’, and identify other ways of encouraging, firstly, participation, then retention in golf.

“There are initiatives aimed at girls, boys and ladies and that is commendable and should continue.

“But very soon we need to find a ‘light bulb moment’ which reaches out to full / senior members with a view to retention of membership and perhaps initiatives which will encourage them to stay and not to join the already high number of nomad golfers.

“The whole structure of golf membership needs to change with the times, and the current situation we find ourselves in, may spring us into action.

“Golf at the ‘top end’ is iconic throughout the world, and will survive this current and other challenges, too.

“However we must act to help and protect the ‘bread and butter’ of this sport, ie, the club members, or face an extremely hazardous and desperate future. Let’s all remember that without club members, there will be no clubs.”

For any UK golf club interested in accessing financial support, there is more information here.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 31, 2020 16:01
Write a comment


  1. Douglas C April 4, 10:28

    Golf courses should be open – within strict guidelines

    Reply to this comment
    • Luke April 4, 17:10

      Couldn’t agree more Douglas, play in 2 balls , keep at least 2 meters apart, don’t touch the flags, keep the club house and pro shop shut …… nothing wrong with this and would give all clubs a much needed cash boost

      Reply to this comment
  2. djm April 2, 18:48

    Has the Golf Industry Quango given any guidance for Clubs being able to claim on their insurance for loss of income ?

    I think we should be told

    Reply to this comment
  3. Graham P April 1, 11:07

    Maybe any financial support for the golf industry should in the first instance be targeted at the proprietary sector. It is these clubs that have been paying VAT on their subscriptions and greenfees and paying full business rates as they cannot qualify for CASC. Remember it is not that long ago members clubs were in receipt of large sums of refunded VAT courtesy of HMRC

    Reply to this comment
  4. Nick Hill March 31, 23:10

    These private member golf clubs want to have their cake and eat it. For years and years they have made little contribution to HMRC and the state with their tax avoidance schemes.

    The have only paid a very small % of their rates bill through discretionary relief with the councils. They have paid no VAT on their green fees from corporate business.

    The question is how can they now ask for help when they have not contributed to society in the past. Royal Dornoch being the prime example hiding behind a charitable sport club status.

    Reply to this comment
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