Scottish Golf braced for funding cuts

Blane Dodds

Scottish Golf CEO Blane Dodds has confirmed that the governing body is set to be affected by the widespread Scottish Government budget cuts.

Last week, it was revealed that £2m has been stripped from the funds collectively issued annually to the 50 national governing bodies by sportscotland, with Scottish Golf currently in negotiations with the government as to how severe the cuts will be.

There will be a reduction, we know that

- Blane Dodds

Currently, a sizeable 25% of the body’s total income stems from the Scottish Government – roughly £1m – and Dodds has stressed the importance of golf to Scotland from both a sporting and economic point of view as he awaits the result.

"We’ll know in the next two to three weeks for sure as to where we’ll be at but there will be a reduction," said the Scottish Golf CEO (above). "We know that, it just depends at what level it ends up at."

Dodds also explained that the Scottish Government-backed Scottish Golf Support Limited (SGSL) – which in 2015 supported Ladies European Tour players Sally Watson and Pamela Prestwell with £23,000 – has also finishedalthough news of a new scheme is expected in the coming weeks.

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Scottish Golf

“We’ve been told roughly where that’s going to be but I’d rather not say where it’s pitched at the moment because we’re in negotiations with the government.

“What I will say is that golf is positioned very differently from other sports in terms of its economic benefits. It employs 15,000 people in Scotland alone, it’s worth £4.4b to the UK economy, we’ve got 600 clubs and we produce 20% of the economic benefit despite having only 8% of the population.

Golf is an incredibly important asset to Scotland

- Blane Dodds

“Why is that? There are three main reasons: the high participation rate in Scotland compared to other countries, the very successful golf tourism industry and the major events that we hold because every time we stage The Open, it generates around £100m for the Scottish economy. Golf is an incredibly important asset to Scotland.”

Golf will be vying with other sports in order to make its budgets cuts as minimal as possible and while Scottish sports stars in the likes of tennis and athletics have enjoyed widespread success in recent years, at the top level in Scottish golf, the same can’t exactly be said, with only the primarily US-based Russell Knox (below), Martin Laird and Catriona Matthew in the world top 200 of their respective world rankings.

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Russell Knox

But will the current performance of Scottish golfers at the top level have an impact on the level of the cuts facing Scottish Golf? Dodds doesn’t believe so.

“It’s based on a strategy that we submit to sportscotland,” he explained. “They invest into that strategy and expect returns and outcomes such as growth in the game and performance criteria such as winning Championships, Walker Cup places etc.

“Performance in terms of outcomes will come into it but overall, the language that we’re hearing is it’s not so much that that’s the reasoning behind it, more so that the government is deciding to put more money into other areas outwith sport. It seems to me that there’s a strategic shift away from sport and into other areas.”

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Wat 9190

Dodds was speaking at Haggs Castle Golf Club today upon the announcement that former Scottish golfer and two-time European Tour winner Stephen McAllister (above, right) is to join the body on a consultancy basis to help open up new markets and explore wider commercial opportunities, something which had been in the pipeline long before the news of the Scottish Government cuts.

Since the 1990s, McAllister has been managing corporate golf days and events on behalf of clients across a number of sectors and he will now seek to use his extensive business network in the domestic market to grow commercial partnerships for Scottish Golf, while aiming to attract new overseas investment from the likes of North America, the UAE and China.

I feel I can bring various connections to Scottish Golf at a high corporate level

- Stephen McAllister

“These are exciting times and I very much look forward to working with Scottish Golf,” said McAllister. “I’ve known Blane for a number of years and we’ve discussed various opportunities, as he has very ambitious growth plans to reshape Scottish Golf.

“I share his ambition and enthusiasm as I feel I can bring various connections to Scottish Golf at a high corporate level and also look at how we can bring international investment through individuals with a passion for The Home of Golf.

“The foreign attitude towards golf in Scotland is very strong, notably for links courses. Golf has its challenges right now, but when I travel abroad I don’t see negativity.”

Budget cuts for Scottish Golf

What do you make of the widespread budget cuts across Scottish support and the cuts in the pipeline for Scottish Golf? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ section below.

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