Scottish golf clubs report best ever year

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 12, 2021 07:36

Scottish Golf has revealed that it has seen its biggest ever rise in club membership in one year from October 2019 to September 2020.

Across the board, the rise is by 6.1 percent, which follows several years of a general decline in memberships. Seven Scottish golf clubs reported that their membership more than doubled in that year.

The figures were released by the governing body in a report at its annual general meeting.

“One of the positives to have emerged from the pandemic is that, for the first time since 2015, we have seen an increase in club membership,” said the report.

Karin Sharp

“Our 568 affiliated clubs saw a 6.1 per cent increase in playing members (adults and juniors) of 10,920, with total playing membership of 190,777.

“There were seven clubs reporting over 100 per cent increase in playing membership from 2019-20.

“This increase in club membership is great news for our affiliated clubs and we urge all our clubs to engage fully to ensure those members can be retained as we head into a prolonged period of economic uncertainty.”

The total playing membership in Scotland rose from 179,857 to 190,777, its highest figure since 2016, although adult and junior female membership rose only very slightly from 21,151 to 21,614 for the former and from 2,535 to 2,619 for the latter.

Scottish Golf’s accounts for the year ended 30 September 2020 showed a loss of £18,350 compared to a surplus of £226,382 in 2019.

The downturn has been attributed to a ‘significant reduction’ in membership income as a result of a 25 per cent affiliation fee rebate, which represented a grant of £580,145, offered to all clubs as they were hit by the initial coronavirus lockdown.

“We are in unprecedented, remarkable times. Since March 2020 we have all been reminded how important the wonderful game of golf is in our lives,” said Eleanor Cannon in her final report as chair of Scottish Golf.

“We have learnt how much we, as individuals, appreciate the golfing communities that we are part of, and how much the camaraderie offers us personally through good times and bad.

“The past 12 months have been challenging and for many harrowing.

“I am extremely proud of the speed at which the Scottish Golf team acted to reassess our financial position and reprioritise activity.

“The outcome of this review was being able to provide support to our affiliated clubs both financially, by rebating our affiliation fees, and practically, through regular Covid-19 updates.

“Throughout my time as chair, we have been working on a variety of long-term growth initiatives which support the organisation’s vision of Making Golf Scotland’s Game For Everyone and 2020 was a big year of implementation as we saw a number of these plans come to life.”

The annual report has also revealed the full details of how Scottish clubs utilised money made available by The R&A through a ‘Club Relief Fund’ and ‘Covid-19 Fixed Cost Grant’.

Scottish Golf provided investment worth £685,000 to Scottish golf clubs. A total of 354 clubs applied for and received the £500 Covid-19 fixed cost grant totalling £173,340.

In addition, 163 clubs were recipients of the Club Relief Fund receiving a total of £512,560 allocated. In total, 370 of Scottish Golf’s affiliated clubs received funding from one or both of The R&A Club Relief Fund.

Martin Gilbert

“I leave Scottish Golf under the excellent stewardship of Karin Sharp (Scottish Golf’s chief operating officer) and Iain Forsyth (chief commercial officer),” said Cannon.

“It gives me great pleasure to know that Scottish Golf will be in safe hands as Martin Gilbert, one of Scotland’s best-known business figures, is set to become chair.

“This is a tremendous coup for golf in Scotland and the entire game should be delighted that Martin, whose passion and support for the sport are very widely known, has agreed to take on this role.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 12, 2021 07:36
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