‘Golf clubs still need to be welcoming’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 18, 2021 07:42

The new chair of Scottish Golf has warned clubs not to be complacent about the recent surge in participation and said that they still need to be as welcoming as possible.

Martin Gilbert told The Scotsman that there remains a “fear” of joining golf clubs, which should be eradicated, and that clubs need to get away from issuing rules, particularly over dress codes.

He said that while membership numbers around Scotland have risen during the pandemic, growth should not be “taken for granted”, with the sport having experienced decline at an alarming rate before the welcome turnaround in numbers.

“We had a really good year last year with growth,” said Gilbert of Scottish golf clubs enjoying a 6.1 percent rise in the total playing membership last year.

Martin Gilbert

“But what we don’t want to do is take that growth for granted and think it is going to continue. I think we’ve just got to be careful not to think the problem has gone away in the long term. We really need to try and build on last year’s success this year.

“We’ve got to grow the game again in Scotland and that would be my strong ambition. We’ve got to encourage participation at a younger age and, to do that, we’ve got to encourage clubs to take away the fear that you need to be a good golfer to join a club.

“A lot of people fear how they are going to enter golf and get started and that’s what we are trying to overcome.

“What I am keen to see along with Karin Sharp (Scottish Golf’s chief operating officer) and Iain Forsyth (the governing body’s chief commercial officer) is to improve the diversity of golf, make it more inclusive, and really grow it from the bottom.

“The rules of golf clubs can vary enormously and I remember speaking to a guy who runs 4,000 golf clubs in the US and hearing him say that one rule is one rule too many in a golf club.

“You look at a lot of our golf clubs and you are not allowed to wear shorts or whatever it might be. I’d really like to see this fear of how you start in golf taken away from people, encourage participation and make it a more inclusive and diverse sport.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 18, 2021 07:42
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  1. PReeve June 20, 20:00

    We’ve been saying exactly this for sometime. Let’s hope action is taken and clubs retain their “new” as well as their old, members.

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  2. Steven Morgan June 19, 13:11

    Spot on. The surge has been fantastic to see but the underlying problems remain and will return if clubs do not continue to change. Fingers crossed management teams and those involved in running golf clubs understand this and plan ahead.

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  3. Peter June 18, 17:46

    Smart man !! The problems, money and time, that kept people away from the sport , will certainly reappear, down the road !! The time to act, is NOW !!! Understanding a members’ value, having an internal marketing plan,, checking offerings and services, creating pride and value, encourage complaining behavior !! Creating “moments of truth !” Lots of work to do !! I assure you, only the very best are working on it !! Others are “slapping themselves on back !”

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