A vote to merge the EGU and EWGA into a single ‘National Governing Body for golf’ will take place on Wednesday, 16th November 2011. Each organisation will have its own vote and each will require a 75% ‘yes’ for the merger to be agreed.
Under the terms of the merger, the EWGA would join the EGU under a modified structure. The EGU would be expanded to incorporate the activities and assets of both existing companies, with a new management structure reflected in revised Articles. England Golf would be the trading name for the EGU following its amalgamation with the EWGA.
The feeling in the air is that the EWGA’s big vote will return the necessary majority from its members. The EGU’s vote is harder to call. Due to a constitutional request, a ‘poll vote’ must take place, which means that rather than every county lodging one vote (eg: 27 out of a total of 36 votes would be needed for merger), the county casts a block vote by the number of clubs in the county (eg: Lancashire has 139) making a total of 1,878 club votes to be counted, and around 1,409 ‘yes’ votes needed.
However, under these rules, a county committee does not have to consult with its clubs before making a block vote. The largest county will therefore submit nearly 200 ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes. To deny a merger – therefore – it is possible that four large counties could between them lodge ‘no’ votes of more than 469, enough to make more than 25% against the merger (this is theory of course, as we don’t know how the largest counties will vote).
The EGU has been holding roadshow meetings with counties and the majority appear to have been communicative with their clubs.
In a joint letter sent to all members of golf clubs, written by the chairmen of the EGU and EWGA, Nigel Evans (chairman EGU), Sylvia Perrins (interim chairman EWGA), and Sue Whittaker (past chairman EWGA), the benefits of the merger were outlined clearly.
Under one heading: ‘Speaking with one voice’, they write: “One National Governing Body will give a powerful message about the direction and approach of the leadership of the sport. It is a message that will be more appealing to younger generations who are our future players and golf club members. With the increasing difficulty of attracting people into golf club membership, the sport, more than ever, needs to be aligned with today’s culture and society. If golf does not reflect societal change, it cannot hope to attract the next generation of golf club members.”
Other benefits of merger are said to include:
- Unified marketing and better media coverage
- Greater attraction for commercial partners
- Reduced duplication, enhanced efficiency
- Improved support and service to clubs.
It is argued that if no merger takes place, consequences include:
- The negative perception of golf being a divided game and not welcoming to all will be reinforced and have a damaging effect on clubs striving to attract new golfers.
- The decline in golf club membership will be more difficult to reverse.
- The sport will be perceived in many quarters, including media and the government, as being out of touch with today’s generation.
- Future government funding cuts for the sport.
The GBN view:
A new governing body for England would send a message that the sport is no longer saddled with the embarrassing baggage of ‘us and them’ or ‘him and hers’.
People outside the game look at golf’s divided structure and dismiss golf as an anachronistic or elitist sport. This merger will remove a barrier which stops many people taking up the game and, even worse, causes them to talk it down to their families, friends and colleagues.
Joining the two organisations will cost money (relocation packages for staff, redundancies, new marketing material etc), but there will also be net efficiencies in administration which have been estimated as £1m every five years, the equivalent of around 190,000 member affiliations at today’s rates.
This money could be ploughed into the future development of the sport.
GBN.com believes that the majority of club members want the merger to happen so that new players and corporate partners see golf as a “welcoming sport that is united, rather than divided into two bodies”.
We hope that the vote itself will reflect their views.
EWGA www.englishwomensgolf.org EGU www.englishgolfunion.org