One in four Scottish golf clubs haven’t furloughed any staff

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 29, 2020 08:21 Updated

A new survey of 135 Scottish golf clubs has found a surprisingly high number have not furloughed any staff, and three-quarters of last year’s members have now renewed for this year.

The poll, by Scottish Golf, comes as the organisation has announced more funding measures for golf clubs to keep them afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The organisation is to offer its clubs a 25 per cent refund on the affiliation fees golf club members pay to it – a package that is said to be worth more than £575,000.

Every member of a golf club affiliated to Scottish Golf pays an ‘affiliation fee’ of £14.50 to the organisation, which runs amateur golf in Scotland.

The measure was announced by Karin Sharp, just days after she replaced Andrew McKinlay as the head of the organisation, following his sudden departure.

Sharp added that the governing body is also offering “interest free payment plans” to the worst-hit clubs around the country for not only the 2019/20 financial year but also for 2020/21.

But perhaps her most surprising revelation was about the percentage of membership renewals in Scotland plus the percentage of clubs that have sought government support.

It’s not clear why one in four clubs haven’t furloughed staff, one The Golf Business reader speculated that it may be because some clubs do not have the cash reserves to pay staff and then claim the wages back, another said some clubs may have too few staff to furlough and undertake essential maintenance at the same time.

“For various reasons, as of today almost 40 per cent of affiliation fees due to Scottish Golf remain unpaid,” she said.

“The payment due by date was informally extended to allow time for further internal discussion and we have made no representation to clubs chasing the outstanding balances at this time.

“On a more positive note, as of last week our membership reported an average of 75 per cent of 2020 membership has already been renewed, 64 per cent of clubs have already applied for / received their Government Support Fund, and 76 per cent have made use of government furlough. For clarity this is based on 135 clubs that responded.

“With all of the above taken into consideration, we are now in a position to announce our plans to assist golf clubs from a financial perspective over the remaining six months of this financial year, and into our 2020/21 financial year.

“We are making an immediate commitment to our clubs that offers in excess of £575,000 of support by way of refund or rebate on affiliation fees.

“This equates to 50 per cent reduction of the remaining six months of the financial year. We are also committing to interest free payment plans for any club that needs it for the 2019/20 financial year and the 2020/21 financial year.”

Sharp also talked about her organisation as a whole and its role within the sport in Scotland.

“As a member organisation it is imperative that we all are considerate of each other and work as a collective,” she said.

“Here at Scottish Golf we have colleagues, with families, who work hard on behalf of the game in Scotland and whom we have looked to treat with fairness and respect.

“Some of those colleagues we have had to furlough – others continue to work supporting the membership through these challenging times.

“Like our member clubs, we have other fixed business expenses that we must pay, however we are in a fortunate position where the combination of reserves and reallocation of budget from events and performance activity have allowed us to take the financial decision to refund part of the affiliation fee.

“We recognise that some clubs will be struggling more than others in these challenging times, particularly those who don’t have reserves on which they can rely.

“If we commit to working together and supporting each other, golf can come out of this crisis in a stronger more unified way. I will do all that I can to support every club with the resources I have, but I also ask that clubs recognise that my limited team (13 since furlough) are working flat out to adapt to an ever-changing world.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 29, 2020 08:21 Updated
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  1. Pleezy129 May 27, 10:02

    Why golf clubs need to furlough us beyond me. All clubs get paid in advance. It is bad management using money elsewhere. The rules for furlough do not include staff who could be paid

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  2. David W May 8, 12:34

    Further evidence of a sector that has too many managers and not enough leaders. Scottish golf demonstrates again a lack of leadership. “My limited team are working flat out to adapt to an ever changing world”. You shouldn’t have to work at it- adaptability is a requirement for anyone working in this ever changing world and should be part of the DNA of any organisation. You have to recruit the right people who are adaptable, embrace change and be innovative.If Scottish golf isn’t adaptable/agile then how can it support its members to do so in order to prosper?

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  3. Yvonne May 8, 09:55

    If this is a sign of resilience, then surely this is some good news. The real challenges will kick in when the restrictions are loosened. This will be an opportunity for golf clubs to take a fresh look at their customer service and the experiences they provide. Amid the turmoil, there could be some glimmers of hope, but will golf clubs be ready for the ‘new normal’?

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  4. Chris M May 5, 11:02

    Why haven’t they madness

    Reply to this comment
  5. Peter April 29, 16:29

    In my experiences, through many crisis in NYC and elsewhere, organizations that survive and thrive in times of crisis are those that keep more employed !! More ideas, more solutions, more suggestions !! More “sleeves rolled up” and More “hands on deck!” Keeping people on payroll also speaks to your culture , sets you up as an employer of choice and adds value to your brand !! It also differentiates you to your target market, a message that will “grab” their attention !!

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