Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shona Malcolm and Hamish Grey ... "worked tirelessly behind closed doors."

Unification is the way ahead for Scots golf

The Scottish Ladies' Golfing Association and the Scottish Golf Union used to be next door neighbours at Drumoig before going their separate ways. The SLGA moved to Perth and, more recently, the SGU transferred its base to The Duke's Course outside St Andrews.
It may be completely off the mark to suggest so, but it always seemed, from the outside looking in at least, that these organisations that run the amateur game in Scotland were not exactly on the best of terms.
Even a year ago talk of a possible amalgamation was a prickly matter, a senior SGU official getting his knuckles rapped for simply commenting on the subject and, believe me, he wasn't even close to saying anything controversial.
Twelve months on, though, it's a case of full steam ahead as far as that amalgamation is concerned and much of the credit for the progress being made should go to Shona Malcolm, the SLGA chairman, and her SGU counterpart, Douglas Connon.
Behind closed doors, they've worked tirelessly to get things moving in their respective associations and, while there's still work to be done, they are definitely getting closer to the day when Scottish amateur golf will be run by one unified body.
Scotland will be falling in line with most of its continental cousins and, closer to home, Wales, where a unified body is now entering its third year of existence. By all accounts, it's an arrangement that works perfectly well and, more to the point, it's something that needs to happen in Scotland at a time when a Single Equality Bill is going to shake things up in golf clubs.
The government intends to extend current discrimination laws to private members' clubs so as to end the treatment of women as "second-class members."
The consultation paper for this Bill specifically mentions the practice of restricting the times when female members have access to golf club facilities.
According to Hamish Grey, the SGU's Chief Executive, the majority of golf clubs in Scotland are already operating equally on a day-to-day basis while the others are working their way towards it.
Unfortunately, nothing is being done to outlaw those pre-historic, male-only and female-only clubs but, for the time being, we should applaud some progress being made and, for the women golfers out there, that's going to mean them having to dig deeper into their pockets, if they're not doing that already, to enjoy their equality at the golf club.
While Shona Malcolm, whose day job is as the LGU's chief executive and, therefore, has her finger on the pulse, believes this will result in some women golfers being lost to the game – it was noted at a seminar before Sunday's SGU annual meeting that female golfers at certain clubs have voted against becoming full members – she thinks the drop-off will be minimal and, what's more, is confident it can be offset by the joint-efforts of the SLGA and SGU in trying to encourage new participants into the sport.
Donald Turner, a man with a strong business and golf background, has been appointed as independent chair to lead a new working group and will oversee the consideration of all measures necessary to achieve the amalgamation which, according to those at the sharp end, is being welcomed at clubs throughout Scotland.
"It seems as though there is a will out there to make this happen," noted Malcolm, while Connon, who sat on the committee that oversaw the amalgamation of the Gordon Highlanders and the Queen's Own Highlanders in 1994, added:
"This amalgamation is a natural progression – it is the right thing for Scottish golf."
In Connon, the SGU currently has a strong individual at its helm and his 'team' for 2010 includes some new faces following the appointment of George Macgregor, Michael Clark and Maurice Shields as directors. Macgregor needs no introduction and the former Walker Cup player and captain is a first-class choice to take over from Robert Burns as the Director of Championships.
As for the SGU's new president Bert Leslie, he's done a pretty good job over the years in backing up Bernard Gallacher, Eric Brown and Stephen Gallacher in putting their beloved Bathgate Golf Club on the map and we wish him well in his year in office.
Any comments? You can E-mail your view to Colin@scottishgolfview.com

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google