Appointment of a new chief executive at Scottish Golf has coincided with renewed controversy over club affiliation fees levied on amateur golfers.
Scottish Golf’s annual meeting next month will be asked to approve a hike in annual affiliation fees from £11.75 to £15.
The amateur sport’s governing body had originally wanted to put the fees up to £24. It said the money was needed to introduce measures to combat a crisis in the game caused by falling golf club membership, an aging cohort of players, rising costs and reduced funding.
The October departure of previous chief executive Blane Dodds, who moved over to head Tennis Scotland after only 16 months in the job, and the re-branding of a planned December consultation meeting as Golf Scotland’s first national conference, has coincided with a re-think on fees.
Even so, there are already rumblings that suggest many see even the reduced increase as too much.
Andrew McKinlay, who shares his name with a former Scottish Young Magician of the Year, is the new Golf Scotland chief executive. But he will not take up the reins until May, having first to see out his notice at the Scottish FA, where he is currently interim chief executive.
The former banker and lawyer, who has been with the Scottish FA for the past six years, will need his own magic touch to re-invigorate amateur golf in Scotland. Having attended Scottish Golf’s December national conference, McKinlay, a keen golfer himself, he already has a good idea of the challenge he is facing.
‘I know the many benefits of playing golf regardless of age, gender or ability’, he said. ‘I believe the passion and collective will throughout the membership gives us a terrific foundation on which to build a bright future for our game’.
Meanwhile, despite accepting that its originally proposed fee increase was too steep, Golf Scotland’s board says it remains ‘committed to addressing the downturns in participation, commercial income and public funding’.
Currently Scotland has just short of 600 golf clubs with an aggregate of just over 200,000 members. The majority of those members are over 55 years old. Only one in ten are under 24 and only one in seven are women.