The most comprehensive survey ever of the country’s golf clubs and golfers has given the game’s governing bodies a mandate to launch a new Facilities Plan aimed at improving the development of Scottish Golf at all levels over the next decade.
The highlight of the plan is the creation of 50 Development Centres, enhancing existing clubs and facilities which have been earmarked for further improvement to support players seeking to improve beyond the first two stages of ClubGolf, the national junior programme.
A further key outcome is the predicted requirement of £7.2m over the next eight years to fulfil these goals – an average total investment of £900,000 each year to 2020 – to be funded from a variety of public sector and private sources. This figure builds on the investment in excess of £5m that has already gone into golf facility development since the inception of ClubGolf in 2003, again from sportscotland and club generated funding.
The in-depth audit of 1,300 golfers and 498 clubs or facilities across the country provided an invaluable insight of what is required to improve facilities, support the development of players and help clubs grow their membership during these ever-challenging economic times. The survey highlighted a lack of good practice facilities, either indoor or outdoor, with limited access to coaches, preventing the average Scottish golfer from reaching his or her potential.
Some of the key findings from the wide-ranging survey reveal:
- New 18-hole courses should only be considered in exceptional circumstances;
- A total of 597 golf courses inScotland;
- 108 driving ranges of which 51 are floodlit;
- 89% of clubs are actively seeking new members;
- 69% of clubs have introduced a transitional or intermediate category of membership to target young adults;
- 14% of clubs have a waiting list for new members;
- 85% of clubs have a junior membership;
- 70% of clubs provide regular coaching for juniors;
- 49% of clubs did not make a profit in the past 12 months while 42% did not expect to make a profit in the next 12 months.
Among the proposals is a hierarchy of facility development, encouraging existing clubs to act as ‘Introductory Centres’ by welcoming beginner golfers to learn the game and improve, with 450 such clubs and facilities to be in place by 2020. At least 75% of clubs would already match this criteria without any additional investment.
Encouragingly, the feedback illustrated a strong emphasis towards junior development, with 85% of clubs having a junior membership, while 70% provided regular coaching for juniors. There was also a clear move towards retention of juniors into adult membership, with 69% of respondents having introduced an intermediary category to target young adults.
On the negative side, membership retention and growth remain major challenges. The majority of municipal courses are seeing significant decline in rounds played and season ticket sales – although some are showing a rise – while 49% of club respondents did not make a profit in past 12 months. Indeed, the research suggests the domestic market is near saturation and new 18-hole courses inScotlandshould only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
Andy Salmon, Scottish Golf Development Manager, said of the survey: “This comprehensive survey identifies and establishes the priorities for investment among Scottish Golf’s stakeholders, such as sportscotland, local authorities and golfing bodies. The findings have helped us shape our Facilities Plan to provide a more structured approach to supporting the long term sustainability of clubs and courses.
“Investment in facilities has previously been relatively ad-hoc however we can now direct funding where clubs are committed to good practice in terms of governance, business planning, access for juniors and environmental standards.
“We will also ensure that the investment will meet the needs of the individual golfer, reflecting their feedback which included a desire for better practice facilities, improved clubhouse facilities and a better quality of course.”
Click here for more information on the Facilities Plan on the SGU website
The national Facilities Survey was undertaken to identify the needs of golf facilities across Scotland and provide clearer direction for investors such as sportscotland, local authorities and golfing bodies to identify where the priorities lie for future facility investment, supporting the long term development of the sport and sustainability of clubs and courses.
Agreed in the spring of 2011, a steering group was established to oversee the project, with representatives from across Scottish Golf, including the Scottish Golf Union (SGU), the Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA), the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), ClubGolf and sportscotland.
The nationwide plan was produced by Porteous Leisure and Leisure Markets Ltd, funded by sportscotland and the SGU.
Scottish Golf Union www.scottishgolf.org
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