Tuesday, April 28, 2020

SCOTTISH GOLF - Subscription refund announcement not so positive after details are released

The announcement at the weekend from Scottish Golf that clubs would be refunded 2019 - 2020 subscriptions has proved less attractive with the release of the details of the decision this week.

Unlike most of the Area Association in Scotland, who have already made the decision to refund between 50% and 100% of subscriptions to member clubs this year, the national body are proposing a return to clubs of just 25% of monies paid, and only if clubs apply on an individual basis for the refund.

With around 40% of Scottish Golf affiliation fees, which should have been paid by the end of March,  still outstanding from member clubs this year, Scottish Golf are still looking for the remaining clubs to pay 75% of the full affiliation fees due this year. Though there has been an indication of flexible finaince options being available, it is not clear how Scottish Golf will proceed with clubs who do not, or are not able, to pay the fees due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

The full statement sent to member clubs this week is reproduced below:-

Dear Member Clubs,

In my first newsletter since taking the lead at Scottish Golf, I wanted to offer a more detailed outline to our membership on decisions that have been made recently, and the strategy and rationale behind them. Making key decisions in such uncertain times is a challenge all businesses are facing and at Scottish Golf we have a responsibility to protect the organisation and all the clubs we represent. In such difficult circumstances, it was important that action was taken to deliver tangible offerings to all golf clubs. If ever the “one size fits all” theory is not ideal, it is now, but to act swiftly this is the model that has to be used. From a financial planning perspective, there were many uncertainties where robust information was required to ensure that responsible business decisions were made.

Decisions recently made:

Events – Cancel all events for 2020

Rationale - The decision to cancel all events was not made lightly, or purely on the basis of when it would be possible to play a round of golf, or even run an event in the future. We had to take into consideration the full requirements to run a National Championship and the impact it would have, like:
When would courses be open for Championship play?
Would it be fair to close a member’s course for up to a week and deny that membership their facility when they have been starved of golf for many weeks/months at a key time of the year?
Would it be safe for our staff and volunteers to run events?
Where would the participants stay (would hotels, guest houses be open)? Once at the event, would clubhouses and restaurants be open for them to eat at?
When will normal playing conditions be achieved? We could be playing with upturned cups, no rakes for bunkers etc for some time post restrictions being lifted and we question whether National Championships should be contested under potentially restricted playing conditions?
We have been in touch with all of the 2020 Host Venue Clubs and given them first refusal to host the same event in the 2021 season. We continue to work through the logistics of this with the current and subsequent year venues but with staff furloughed both in clubs and at Scottish Golf, this process is going to take some time and we will provide further updates on the 2021 calendar in the coming months.

Performance – Cancel the performance programme for the remainder of 2020 playing season

Rationale - Another decision not taken lightly, with many of the reasons for cancelling our own events also being relevant to performance activity, along with the additional key aspect of not knowing when international travel might be permitted. In taking an early decision in consultation with external funders to the performance programme and by making our position clear, it enabled us to redirect funds for golf club support.

Golf Club Financial Survey – To issue a short survey to all clubs

Rationale - This was the final key part in our planning to give us a clear picture on the facts behind the current landscape. Contrary to the thoughts of some, this was never intended as an intrusive survey, more to ensure we were basing decisions on facts as opposed to opinions. A personal thank you to all the clubs who completed this survey in such a timely manner.  Through recent work, and with sportscotland’s assistance, we are now also gaining a clearer understanding of the number of clubs impacted by possible grant restriction based on their rateable value. This will continue to be an ongoing discussion with Government for us.

What next?

Return to Golf – A topic that many have been asking about and one which we are actively engaging with many key partners to move forward. We have had positive discussion in the last few days with government (through key contacts in Active Scotland and sportscotland) and have their support in what is a planning phase. We are also collaborating with key industry partners to ensure that across GB&I we are developing a consistent approach that can be adopted when the time is right. It is highly likely that any return will be in phases, with single golfers or household groups in the first instance to ensure that the golf industry continues to adhere to government guidelines – within our clubs, we will have a mix of front line & key workers, along with vulnerable groups who have been shielding or self-isolating for lengthy periods and we must continue to ensure we can keep everyone safe. To be clear, we are very much in the planning phase to ensure that when the time is right, we are well placed and have the support of key partners to be able to move quickly to update clubs with detailed information as to what a phased return to golf will look like. In the meantime, whilst we remain in lockdown with the restrictions in place we must continue to stay home and save lives.

Affiliation Fees – As you know our financial year runs from 1st October to 30th September, so the Coronavirus Pandemic impact on Golf Course closure happened just a few days short of 6 months into the current year. The Regulations of Scottish Golf state that all affiliation fees are in fact due by the end of January, but in recent years Scottish Golf moved this to the end of March to try and assist clubs with cash flow based on when a large portion of club membership fees fall due. For various reason as of today almost 40% of affiliation fees due to Scottish Golf remain unpaid. 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% of 2020 membership has already been renewed, 64% of Clubs have already applied for/received their Government Support Fund, and 76% have made use of Government Furlough. For clarity this is based on 135 clubs that responded.

Scottish Golf Support - 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 6 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% reduction of the remaining 6 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.

Summary of our commitment:
All clubs can apply for a 25% refund on their total 2019/20 affiliation fee invoice. Clubs that have already paid can apply for a refund or carry over a credit to the 2020/21 invoice year.
All clubs can apply for an interest free payment plan for both the 2019/20 period and the 2020/21 financial year.
Any club that elects not to take the 25% refund/discount, we will commit that value to a club support fund which will be used for clubs under considerable financial strain. The value of this fund will become clear once all refund applications have been processed and the outcome will be published.
Scottish Golf will communicate the application process to all clubs within the next 14 days (noting it will be different for clubs who have paid, those who are adhering to committed payment plans and those clubs who have not communicated their intent).

A final thought:

As a member organisation it is imperative that we all are considerate of each other and work as a collective. 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. Following on from today, I will be in dialogue with the Areas and Counties to gain a clearer understanding of the challenges they are hearing of at a local level (many of these calls were scheduled at the end of last week), and I will also make myself available to assist our wider membership in any way that I can.

Thank you and stay safe.

Karin Sharp
Chief Operating Officer

Saturday, April 25, 2020

AYRSHIRE GOLF ASSOCIATION - Subscription and entry fee refunds sent to clubs

Following the recent decision to support member clubs through the present COVID-19 crisis, refunds of the 2019-2020 Ayrshire Golf Association subscriptions and entry fees to the 2020 competitions have been sent to all member clubs.

The refunds, in the form of cheques, were posted to club secretaries on Friday 24th April.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

SCOTTISH GOLF - Leadership changes announced following departure of Andrew McKinlay

Scottish Golf have today announced changes to their leadership arrangements following the departure of Andrew McKinlay from the organisation intimated yesterday.

The following statement was released today:-

Following the statement yesterday that Scottish Golf CEO Andrew McKinlay has decided to leave the organisation, today they are announcing a number of key steps to ensure a sustainable future for Scottish Golf, along with targeted initiatives to support their 575 affiliated clubs through these extremely challenging times.

This month the governing body significantly reduced staffing numbers through utilisation of the Government furlough scheme. In addition, and in response to the global health crisis, they felt it sensible to take early decisive action and cancel all events and performance programmes for the remainder of the 2020 season enabling available resources to be reprioritised towards golf club support.

Eleanor Cannon, Chair of Scottish Golf said: “The Board and Executive Team have had to make very tough decisions in order to focus on ensuring we are in a sustainable position going forward when courses reopen. With many clubs feeling the financial strain, which in turn has had a knock-on effect on our income, we have prioritised expenditure accordingly.

Now more than ever we need strong leadership backed up by robust actionable plans. I am very pleased to announce that The Board has invited Karin Sharp to lead the organisation with immediate effect, from her current role as Chief Operating Officer. Karin has outstanding operational pedigree gained through various leadership roles within RBS where her career spanned 23 years, predominately in their Corporate & Commercial Banking Division. She joined Scottish Ladies Golfing Association in November 2013 as Chief Operating Officer and, following the amalgamation in 2015, has ultimately continued in the same role for Scottish Golf.”

Karin said: “In response to these unprecedented circumstances we have issued a short financial health check survey to our member clubs which seeks to gather key information, specifically around the impact of COVID-19 to golf club operations. This detail will directly contribute to, and significantly inform, our ongoing dialogue with Scottish Government in relation to the struggles faced by golf in Scotland. This information is crucial. To enable us to represent the situation accurately and effectively, I urge all clubs to complete the survey at the earliest opportunity. In addition, this Thursday we will host the first of our weekly support webinars, open to all member golf clubs. We have brought together experts from golf club management, finance, marketing and commercial disciplines that are on hand to offer advice on the significant challenges our clubs are currently facing.” Karin will continue to be supported by Iain Forsyth the Scottish Golf Chief Commercial Officer. Iain has more than 30 years’ commercial leadership experience working in the golf industry. Both Karin and Iain have voluntarily decided to take a 20% pay cut for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

COVID-19 RESPONSE - Ayrshire Golf Association cancel county competitions for 2020 season and Member club subscriptions to be refunded in full

The Ayrshire Golf Association executive have taken the regrettable, but necessary decision to cancel all Ayrshire Golf Association competitions for the 2020 season, as a direct result of the present COVID-19 pandemic situation and associated restrictions in place at present, and projected going forward.

The decision has also been taken to support member clubs through these difficult times by refunding all per capita subscriptions paid for the 2019 - 2020 period, and utilise a proportion of reserve funds to cover outlay to date and future outlay until the AGM in October.

The Ayrshire Golf Association executive last met in February and was due to have their next meeting on 12th May.

At the last meeting, the decision was taken to suspend all AGA competitions until a review on 12th May. The present restrictions make it unlikely that any formal executive meetings will take place in the forseeable future.

The executive members have considered a number of matters relating to county golf as a rrsult of the present national and indeed international, situation and consensus has been reached on the following issues which will directly affect, or be of interested to members of Ayrshire Golf Association affiliated clubs.


The Junior Team Championship, Strokeplay Championship and Matchplay Championship had already been postponed from the fixture list in April and May.

It has been agreed to postpone the remaining scheduled fixtures for 2020. These fixtures are

5th July – CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS (Loudoun)
14th July – AYRSHIRE SENIORS (Troon Fullarton)

Although these events have been postponed, it has also been agreed that, should circumstances later in the year permit, that consideration will be given to reinstating one or more of the events at short notice if it proves practical to do so. This will be closely monitored and all clubs will be advised if the position changes in any way.


The six extended competitions that the AGA run have already been suspended until at least 12th May, and with no likelyhood of an early return to 'normal' circumstances to allow these events to continue this year, it has been decided that the extended competitions will be cancelled for 2020.

The events concerned are:-

The Champion of Champions Trophy
The Ayrshire Fourball Championship
The Gary Bryden Memorial Salver
The President's Putter
The Ayrshire Scratch Leagues
The Ayrshire Handicap League Championship

This also means the Finals Day in September will be cancelled.


Discussions are ongoing with the other five West of Scotland Area Associations regarding the position of the Mens, Youths and Boys League fixtures as well as the Mens and Boys West of Scotland Open events.

Any decision reached will be circulated in due course.


The vast majority of The Association's 63 member clubs have paid their 2019-2020 subscriptions to date and The AGA Executive have decided that the most practical way in which The Association could support the member clubs at this time is to refund any subscription paid for the 2019 - 2020 period IN FULL.

It was also agreed to refund extended competition entry fees IN FULL for the cancelled events in 2020.

Any costs for the 2019 - 2020 period will be covered from existing funds held by The Association, including reserve funds set aside for just such unforseen or emergency situations as The Association and their member clubs find themselves in at the present time.

Secretaries of The Association's member clubs will be contacted over the next few weeks regarding refund payments.

The Association hope that that this information is helpful at present in relation to county golf matters, and hope that the early notification, albeit with the regrettable decision which had to be taken regarding event cancellation, will assist everyone involved in golf in Ayrshire, at a county or club level, in clarifying the position for the remainder of the year.

The decisions taken will hopefully allow The Association to give as much practical support as possible to our member clubs through these testing circumstances we all find ourselves in. 

SCOTTISH GOLF - Chief executive Officer Andrew McKinlay steps down.

Scottish Golf Chair Eleanor cannon today released a statement advising that the Scottish Golf Chief executive Officer Andrew McKinlay has stepped down from his post.

The surprise announcement was contained in the following statement:-

"We are living in unprecedented times and, as we are all very well aware, sport has no immunity to the impact of COVID-19. Scottish Golf, like all businesses and indeed golf clubs across the country, is having to assess its business model. The governing body has had to make some very difficult decisions regarding income and expenditure, to ensure sustainability in the current circumstances.

To this end, our Chief Executive, Andrew McKinlay, has decided that he should step aside in order to help the organisation come through this situation. He leaves having worked with the team on a revised structure that will be fit for purpose when we emerge from the national lockdown.

Eleanor Cannon, Scottish Golf Chair: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Andrew for his contribution to Scottish Golf over the past two years. He brought a wealth of experience to what can be a pressurised role.

“He has helped take the organisation forward and has now taken a very difficult decision at this challenging time. I thank him for doing so and wish him the very best for the future.”

Andrew McKinlay: “It has been a privilege to lead this fantastic organisation and, I am grateful to Eleanor and the board for the opportunity. Above all I am indebted to the team at Scottish Golf for their commitment in implementing the objectives to take the game forward towards a sustainable and, indeed, prosperous future.”

Eleanor Cannon, Chair, Scottish Golf

WEST OF SCOTLAND MENS OPEN - Renfrewshire Golf Union announce postponement

The Renfrewshire Golf Union have announced that The West of Scotland Mens Open, scheduled for the 10th May at Gleddoch GC, has been postponed.

The event has been rearranged for Saturday 26th September 2020. All entrants will be informed individually  by email.

Friday, April 17, 2020

BELLEISLE CUP - Ayr event is the latest cancellation due to COVID-19 crisis

The 2020 Belleisle Cup is the latest golf event in Ayrshire to be cancelled due to the uncertainties arising from the current COVID-19 crisis.

The event, one of the highlights in the Ayrshire county calendar,  was due to take place at Ayr Belleisle on Sunday 31st May 2020, but the organisers of the event, the Ayr Belleisle Golf Club, have decided it will not be feasible to run the competition this year.

As the club have have no control over when the course or clubhouse will re-open, or what social distancing rules may still be in place by the scheduled date of the event, cancellation was considered  the only practicable option open.

There are no plans to try to reschedule the event later in the season.

The club do hope they can still stage the Belleisle Open this year, planned for end of July, but this too will be under review depending on the prevailing conditions over the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

COVID-19 - Scottish Golf cancel full national programme of events for 2020

Scottish Golf have today intimated their decision to cancel all national events and performance programmes for 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The decision was outlined in a statement issued by the Chair of the national body, Elanor Cannon.

Statement from Scottish Golf

First and foremost, I want to send our best wishes to each and every one of you, our members, from the team here at Scottish Golf. This is the most difficult time we have all had to face in a generation, both personally and professionally. All of us have been affected by COVID-19 either directly or indirectly.

For now, it is a time to pull together. As a community we represent so much more than golf. Together, locally, we represent camaraderie, friendship, and support.  We are all pulling together in the golf clubs that we love, reaching out to each other, making sure that our golfing friends who are on their own and vulnerable are being looked after and feel supported by their club and their fellow members.

I recognise that, for each of our 575 affiliated clubs, our committees, employees and members, it is a time of uncertainty and stress. Tough decisions are being taken by your management teams so that your clubs can re-open their doors in as strong a position as is possible. Clubs need their members more than ever to support their them financially so that they can survive the lockdown in an already tough market, and so that we each have our club to come back to.

Scottish Golf, like its member clubs, is having to make some tough decisions in light of a significant delay in our member income, so that we can continue to support our clubs as we come through these difficult times. To this end we have furloughed the majority of our employees and made the necessary decisions as regards our season’s calendar of events.

We have taken the decision to cancel all our all our events and our performance programmes for the remainder of the 2020 season. 

There is important work that we will continue to deliver to ensure we are in a positive position when our clubs and their courses reopen. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about this work now.

Scottish Golf are continuing the development of our Hive eLearning platform. This will allow clubs to access self-learning tools to manage various aspects of the club, including assistance with educating members on WHS.

Secondly, the works continues on the development and testing of VMS. We know that many clubs are using the current down time to learn the new system and we have retained team members to support you in this.

We are also in the final stages of completing the build of our WHS system, which will allow golfers to see what their new WHS handicap index will become.

Scottish Golf want to support you and your clubs during these challenging times. As each of the skeletal team is working remotely, the very best way to seek support on specific issues is to email:

We continue to liaise with sportscotland and the Government and we will ensure that we communicate with you as and when decisions about the game are made.

In time we will all get back out there onto our courses. For now, we must look after each other and the communities that our clubs serve. Once we can start playing the game we love again, we will all work together to re-establish golf as the life blood of our communities. Thank you for the commitment you have shown us. We look forward to working with you all both now and in the future.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a peaceful Easter weekend. I urge you all to continue to follow the Government guidelines to stay at home.

With very best wishes,
Eleanor Cannon