"Dodds has taken the dishonourable way out"

Blane Dodds

In truth, Blane Dodds’ decision to leave Scottish Golf after just over a year at the helm doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Rumours have been circulating about the chief executive’s position since the summer, with suggestions that he was keen on a role with Tennis Scotland something of an open secret in certain circles.

The fact that he continued to act as chair of Tennis Scotland whilst in post at Scottish Golf - at least, that's what it says on his LinkedIn account - did nothing to silence the murmurings.

What is surprising is the timing of his departure. In just over six weeks’ time, a new strategic plan for Scottish Golf – essentially, the fruits of Dodds’ labour over the last six to nine months – will be debated at a Special General Meeting before Scottish Golf stakeholders will be asked to vote upon them.

If conversations on social media are anything to go by, it appears that there is very little chance of the proposals being passed.

Speaking to Dodds in St Andrews two weeks ago, I got the sense he knew that, too.

He cut a (ironically enough) resigned figure. Downbeat, downcast, defeated. What he didn’t appear to have was the stomach for a fight – and that’s the exact opposite of what Scottish Golf needs right now.

By his own admission, he inherited an organisation that was in a bad way. He told me that, when he came in, expenditure was outstripping income and so he set in place a new business strategy in an attempt to balance the books and make Scottish Golf better fit for purpose.

The decision by sportscotland to slash its funding to the body was a further complication he could have done without but it appears to be the broadly negative response to his proposed strategy overhaul that has broken this particular camel’s back.

Do his staff, stakeholders and golf club members have a right to feel disappointed in his decision to, effectively, abandon ship? Absolutely. He’s outlined his vision for the future, encouraged everyone to buy into it – and, at the first opportunity, made a dash for the hills.

He will say that an opportunity to return to an organisation and a sport that is, by all accounts, his first love was too much to resist and that he has to do what is right for him. That’s as maybe. But he has led another organisation and another sport down a path that, from what I gather, he had little intention of seeing through to the end.

That, to me, is dishonourable.

So, what next? First and foremost, the Scottish Golf board has a massive responsibility to make sure that the next appointment is the right one. That’s on them and they’ll know that. If they don’t, they should. Dodds was the current board’s man. Like it or not, they’re partly accountable for his tenure.

Whether or not the proposals outlined in the strategic overhaul still get debated at the Special General Meeting on December 2 remains to be seen. For what it’s worth, I’d listen to the noise and go back to the drawing board rather than attempt to push through the agenda of somebody who didn’t have the gumption to see it through themself.

These are troubled, worrying times for Scottish Golf and things may get worse but if there is any silver lining, it is this - it’s better to know now the commitment of the man at the helm than find out further down the line.

Chief executives are meant to lead by example. Sadly, the only example Dodds has set is how not to do it.

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