New Scottish Golf chief executive Andrew McKinlay has called for Areas, clubs and members to work together to improve the game’s current situation in the home of golf.
In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with bunkered.co.uk on his first day in office, McKinlay also spoke about:
• How better relationships and communication methods must be forged between Scottish Golf and its membership;
• How his background at the Scottish Football Association leaves him better equipped for the role than predecessor Blane Dodds;
• His willingness to get out and visit clubs and aid those that are struggling.
McKinlay was appointed in February but has had to wait to leave his role as interim chief executive at the Scottish Football Association, a position he assumed upon the departure of Stewart Regan.
In the three months since, Scottish Golf has endured a turbulent period, coming to a head in March when the proposed affiliation fee hike from £11.25 to £15 was rejected by its membership.
It's clear, then, that for McKinlay - a member at Pollok Golf Club - one of his key aims is to build and repair relationships that have broken down over a period of time.
On… building relationships
"The fact that the affiliation fee hike vote was lost shows there is a disconnect with the membership – and work is already being carried out to try and fix that. One of the big things for me is to get out, see the membership and understand what their issues are to see how we can help them. Getting out there is what I see as a quick win – maybe not an easy win – but being visible is so important. I think the whole membership and everyone involved in Scottish Golf wants to make the game better. Instead of fighting with each other, let’s work together to improve it."
On… improving communication with members
"I think there’s a view that some of members’ money goes towards sending these talented young players off to South Africa. It just doesn’t – that’s why we’ve got the support of Aberdeen Standard Investments. But that’s not the fault of the members for thinking that. That’s our fault for not communicating it properly. For members to vote against a small increase - £3.75 per year – means there’s something not right. When something isn’t right, it generally means there’s been a breakdown in communication. It’s an obligation of Scottish Golf to make sure the members value us and appreciate what they’re getting for their money."
On… what his SFA background can bring to the role
"I’ve come from the world of football so I’ve got a pretty thick skin. I’m resilient and I’m hoping that I can speak to people, build relationships, trust and honesty. Where I come from is one of the hardest sports organisations from a political and governance standpoint. This time in the evolution of Scottish Golf, what it requires is somebody that understands corporate governance and I don’t think I could have had a better grounding for it due to my time at the Scottish FA. There are huge parallels between governing bodies as well. So at the SFA there was a Development and Performance function. I know the issues they’ve had and, yes, there will be differences. But there will be a lot of things from my previous role that will be equally applicable here."
On… the differences of clubs and members
"What’s important is that not all clubs are the same – it’s not one size fits all. Some clubs are surviving fine the way they are and we know that but others are struggling. We really need to help them with ways they can diversify their income. A primary obligation must be towards our membership because we’re a members organisation but we must try to involve those who don’t want to be club members. Whether that’s to find out why they don’t want to be members, things that can change to bring them into the fold, or if there are other ways they can be involved. But a very crucial message to the membership on that is it can’t be done at the cost of the membership feeling, ‘Well what’s the point in me being a member?’ We need to make being a golf club member an attractive a proposition as possible."
On… Scottish Golf’s current situation
“I’ve been keeping one eye on Scottish Golf. My first interview was at the end of November and, on the first week, I went to the Scottish Golf Future of Golf Conference in Edinburgh. I sat at the back of the conference, incognito, and I looked around and it gave me a great understanding of the issues that are around. I could have gone to the conference that day and came away thinking, ‘This is a disaster’, but I came away thinking that there are massive opportunities here. I think that conference was a watershed moment and that’s why I feel really privileged to be assuming the role at this time. Yes, we’re six months down the line and other things have gone on, but now it’s time to pick up the pace and drive on. We all know about the problems – and now it’s time to fix those.”