Over 100 delegates gathered at the Scottish Golf Union’s Annual Conference over the weekend, with clubs invited for the first time to reflect the theme of working together.
At the University of Stirling’s campus, the SGU and its 16 Area Associations welcomed affiliated clubs for an excellent education and networking opportunity as some of the key issues facing Scottish golf were considered.
The 2012/13 financial year again proved a challenging one for the SGU, but was ultimately positive as the organisation continues to work across more areas of the golf industry than ever before to meet the demands of clubs and deliver its strategy.
The SGU increased turnover by 8% to £2.896 million and invested record levels in supporting clubs, at the same time as generating £1.38 for every £1 invested by member clubs, meaning subscriptions now equate to 42% of income to illustrate a wider spread of income across the organisation.
Notably, the SGU continues to work with a strong portfolio of sponsors and partners to enhance its activities and, during the last financial year, sponsorship income increased by 23% to record levels despite the difficult financial climate.
While the SGU are acutely aware of the trend of declining golf club membership – a pressing issue across Europe – time was spent in Stirling discussing factors contributing to the decline, including changes in consumer and social behaviour, and how to counter them.
On Saturday, interactive sessions and case studies exploring best practice in golf clubs, as well as a key note speech from Troed Troedson, a renowned expert on understanding consumer behaviour who has worked with the Swedish Golf Federation, provided an invaluable insight to clubs.
Sunday’s activities continued the theme of working better together, while the SGU reported its activities for the year across its seven strategic pillars – More Golfers, More Members, Stronger Clubs, Talented Golfers, Outstanding Championships, Excellent Governance and Strong Partnerships – before proceedings concluded with the SGU Annual General Meeting.
Ian Howarth, President of Stirlingshire Golf Union and a past member of the SGU Finance Committee, was elected as the 52nd President of the SGU and the first from his Area since 1997.
“I’m very honoured to take up this role,” said Ian. “With Scotland privileged to host both the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup, 2014 has all the hallmarks of being a hugely memorable year.”
Two new board appointments – voluntary like all post-holder positions other than the chief executive –were also approved.
Sandy Anderson, past captain at Sandyhills Golf Club and a member of the Glasgow Golf Union Executive Committee, has been appointed to oversee Club Development, while Bill Buchan, a key driver in setting up Edinburgh Golf to deliver sustainable growth across the capital, has taken up the position to oversee Participation.
Tom Craig, the SGU Chairman, said: “Our Annual Conference, held in Stirling for the first time, proved hugely beneficial for all involved, especially for all the delegates who attended from across the country.
“It’s been another challenging year for all involved at the SGU, but everyone is working hard to support clubs and their members, and encourage more people into the game.
“Over the coming weeks, we are undertaking further research among club managers, club members and casual golfers, looking at what the future golf consumer wants from a club, and continuing to support clubs, particularly with regard to business planning and good governance.”
Providing an update on the proposed amalgamation with the Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA), Craig added: “The SGU and the SLGA continue to work very closely together, with much of our work now shared across both organisations.
“Our goal remains to amalgamate and the Amalgamation Working Group, independently chaired by Alastair Thornton, has made good progress. It is anticipated that a proposal for consultation will soon be available in 2014 as we seek to establish a governance structure for Scottish golf for the next 50 years and beyond.”
Scottish Golf Union www.scottishgolfunion.org
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