The move to bring the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association (SLGA) together as a single governing body has gathered momentum with a formal proposal being delivered to each organisation’s members this week.
It is proposed that the new joint organisation be called Scottish Golf Limited, and will be operational from 1 October 2011. Consequently the SGU and SLGA have developed a twelve month timetable to consult with members and refine and finalise the details of the proposed amalgamation.
The SGU’s existing shareholders are its 16 Area Associations, while the SLGA comprises affiliated ladies clubs and sections along with 15 County organisations, each with a vote on how the governing bodies are run at present. The proposed changes have now been sent to each of the member groups for consideration, with the two bodies conducting a series of meetings during October, November and December to gather the views of those groups.
Donald Turner, Chair of the amalgamation working group, welcomed the move to meet with the existing members: “It is vitally important that we harness the views of our existing members while explaining in detail the rationale behind the change which I believe is right for Scottish Golf. The SGU and SLGA have now been working very closely for a number of years and amalgamation is a natural step in the right direction which can have great benefits for the development of the game in Scotland.
“At a time when we are encouraging clubs to work towards equality, it is important that every golfer – regardless of gender – is given the same level of opportunity to participate and succeed in the game and that can only happen through amalgamation. At the heart of the game lies our clubs and during these particularly challenging times, clubs need the support of a strong governing body.
“There is much history and heritage within the SLGA and SGU as well as their respective Counties, Areas and clubs. However, we must look to the future together if we are to succeed with the ambitions shared by both governing bodies.”
Funding from sportscotland accounts for more than one third of the combined income of the SGU and SLGA at £1.3m and are key partners in the development of the game. sportscotland’s Chief Executive, Stewart Harris commented: ”sportscotland has been investing in and working with the Scottish Golf Union and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association on the amalgamation of the two bodies for a number of years. We look forward to working with SGU & SLGA to finalise the amalgamation process to allow golf to enjoy the benefits of having one united body responsible for governing and developing the amateur game in Scotland. Our support and investment to golf will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. We anticipate that one strong amateur golf body would be a more efficient way for sportscotland to invest in the future, and propel Scottish Golf to even greater heights.”
The joint proposals include the creation of a single Board of Directors with a new Chair to be appointed as both Shona Malcolm (SLGA Chair) and Douglas Connon (SGU Chair) have indicated they will step down at the end of their current terms. It is intended that the Company will be limited by guarantee, with the voting members comprising the Areas, Counties and golf clubs throughout Scotland.
Under the proposal, existing Counties and Areas will retain their identity and boundaries, with Counties being offered the opportunity to explore a different method (consistent with the Areas) of promoting membership and collecting club subscriptions. The new body will unify the level of per capita subscription it collects from clubs, which is currently different for men and ladies, and this will remain for playing adults only, with an agreement to continue a policy of not charging for juniors.
Following the consultation period, the amalgamation working group will conduct a debrief and review before updating the proposal, which will be further discussed at the SGU and SLGA AGMs in January 2011. Further seminars will then take place among Areas, Counties and clubs in the spring, with a final proposal anticipated to be put to respective EGMs in May 2011. On approval of the proposal by the respective voting members, an appointment process for the inaugural Board will be undertaken in time for a smooth handover of responsibilities from the SGU and SLGA to Scottish Golf Limited from 1 October 2011.
Shona Malcolm, Chair of the SLGA, said: “We have made excellent progress throughout 2010 and trust that the various stakeholders will be in agreement with our proposals. We welcome the feedback of our clubs and Counties over the coming months and their input will be invaluable to enable the new body to act in the best interests of Scottish Golf.”
Her counterpart at the SGU, Douglas Connon, added: “We welcome the proposals put forward by Donald Turner and the working group. We believe the timetable we have put in place can now be achieved. Having worked so closely with the SLGA for a number of years across many key projects, it makes perfect sense to be working together under one single entity for the betterment of Scottish Golf and giving our clubs and golfers the best opportunity to develop. Scottish Golf demands and deserves this step change.”