The Executive of the South of Scotland Golfers’ Association is disappointed in the Draft Strategy document in that there is very little detail with important facts and figures omitted. To not include these is paramount to commercial blackmail.
The Executive, with the approval of all the Clubs in the Area, organises an IMT Card scheme whereby Members of local Clubs purchase a booklet containing cards which permits the member to play any course within the Area at half price. This can provide income for the Association of up to £2,000 per annum and is ring fenced for the development of Junior golf. This, I assume, in the new strategy will be disallowed.
Dumfries and Galloway Golf Partnership, now in its fourth year, has seen Clubs in the region working collaboratively to increase the golf experiences for their members by forming arrangements whereby members can play free rounds at other neighbouring courses. This raises the question as to whether or not a national CRM system would support this arrangement.
Clubs have also been encouraged to form partnerships with local accommodation providers to offer Golf Holiday Packages which offer participants special green fee rates as part of these deals. Clubs benefit from this arrangement by increased revenue and free advertising through the accommodation providers. The Partnership also works collaboratively with the Regional Accommodation Provider Organisation, Visit South West Scotland, and VisitScotland to further promote these special offers via annual advertising campaigns linked to our website, South of Scotland Golf. Currently the Partnership is exploring the possibility of expanding advertising to be included in P&O Ferries Packages to Northern Ireland which will also involve reduced green fees. Again, will a national CRM system be able to support these arrangements, or actually make them unmanageable?
These and other similar initiatives, I assume, will have to be discontinued if the strategy is approved and the Association will lose valuable funding. The only alternative is to increase the members’ affiliation fee to the Association, which on top of the increase in affiliation fees to SGL, will see a reduced membership in all Clubs and in particular the possible demise of the smaller Clubs. These smaller Clubs cannot afford to lose any members. Over the past few years they have worked diligently to maintain their membership, reduced their expenditure by increasing their efficiency and are using volunteers to maintain their courses. Only now are they beginning to see a partial recovery and any reduction in membership will tip them over the cliff.
Membership of Clubs in this Area is divided into two categories, those who play competitive golf and those who play social golf amongst themselves and their friends. A very large part of the membership is contained within the latter category. The numbers playing competitive golf has been reducing dramatically over the past few years. If the per capita fee is increased, a figure of £24 has been suggested, members will leave in droves and never return. To replace them from the 750,000 nomadic golfers at higher subscriptions will be impossible, particularly in rural areas. Is this the legacy the present Board of SGL wishes to leave?
The present system of all Club members paying the same level of affiliation fees hugely disadvantages smaller clubs. An alternative method of calculating SGL Affiliation Fees could be to use a percentage of the Club’s subscription.
In Dumfries and Galloway an affiliation fee of £11.25 represented as a means that the Club with the lowest subscription £210 is sending the SGL 5.4% of every sub, while the Club with the highest subscription £525 is sending only 2.1% of each sub. Using 19 Clubs in this region for this exercise, the average % of member subscriptions used for the £11.25 affiliation fee works out at 3%. If 3% had been applied instead of the set £11.25 for all, the SGL would have realised approximately an additional £9,500.00 on top of the approximate £51,000.00 they did get. 8 Clubs would have paid less, while 11 clubs would have paid more. The % system is fairer and would definitely help smaller Clubs, but larger Clubs, that have been paying very low percentages, may struggle to meet this increase. If the SGL is going to increase affiliation fees it has to do so in such a manner as it does not continue to discriminate against smaller Clubs, as at present. If the SGL chose to up the rate for everyone, say to £24 per head, all our Clubs would be paying more than through the above proposal. The lowest % being paid would be 4.6% and the highest 11.4%! The average would be 6.3%.
To provide the CRM tee booking system is a massive undertaking and is unlikely to be rolled out countrywide to start all at the same time. I would suggest that a pilot study be instigated over a couple of areas so that the effects on all types of clubs, both small and large, can be assessed. This would also help in identifying problems and pitfalls so these can be rectified before going “global”.
To introduce the CRM System in South Area, where a third of the Clubs use an “honesty box” to collect green fees and some do not have a Club computer will be hugely expensive and if commission plus possibly VAT is taken will be another hammer blow to the Clubs.
I believe the draft strategy does not meet the concerns of the average golfer in Scotland. As the governing body it is your duty and responsibility to provide what the golfer wants and not what you want to provide at enormous cost. At no time, as far as I am aware, have you asked the average golfer what he wants from his national association. This should have been your first consultation exercise and the strategy formed from their concerns.
I look forward to examining the completed document to, not only determine what changes have been made from this exercise but to, determine if it will be the panacea for the way forward for Scottish Golf.