Troubled Times for Scottish Golf at a Time When Unity is Needed

By: | Tue 28 Apr 2020 | Comments


AT A time when it needs unity, Scottish Golf, which looks after the sport in the country that gave us the game, appears to be in eye of storm, after the resignation of its third chief executive in four years. Andrew McKinlay stepped down after just two years in the job and Eleanor Cannon, the organisations chair, has quickly moved to deflect criticism.

"I don't actually think what's really important right now is how many chief executives we've had," Cannon said. "What's important right now is that we support our clubs and support our members. Because nobody is free from what's going on right now.”

McKinlay, who has been replaced by Karin Sharp, joined Scottish Golf in February 2018 to succeed Blane Dodds, who left for the equivalent position at Scottish Tennis after one year.

Development director Ross Duncan and head of operations Louise Burke also left last month, which indicated that all is far from well at a time when increasing numbers of courses have closed for good. 

Cannon has confirmed struggling clubs will receive a 25% rebate on affiliation fees amid the coronavirus pandemic, and that Scottish Golf is working on a plan with governments for a safe return for the sport. "We are working with all our stakeholders to build an emergency fund to support clubs who are finding themselves in dire straits as a result of the lockdown," she added.

Unsurprisingly, she says the organisation has had to make "some very difficult decisions" to remain sustainable. Scottish Golf has issued a "financial health check survey" to gather information, about the impact of Covid-19 on golf clubs.

"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," Sharp said. "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."

Sharp, who worked for Royal Bank of Scotland for 23 years, has been with Scottish Golf as COO since 2015. She and chief commercial officer Iain Forsyth, has taken a voluntary 20% pay cut.

"Now more than ever we need strong leadership backed up by robust actionable plans," said Cannon. "Karin has outstanding operational pedigree gained through various leadership roles within RBS where her career spanned 23 years."

McKinlay succeeded Blane Dodds after working at the Scottish FA, and Cannon said McKinlay "has helped take the organisation forward and has now taken a very difficult decision".

He described it as a "privilege" to have led  the organisation.


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