We can learn from the Scots
It’s not altogether surprising that Scottish golfers have been dominating the SA Amateur Championship (May issue) in recent years. Amateur golf in the UK, particularly Scotland and England, is highly organised all the way up from grassroots to elite level, and the work of these gol ng bodies is having great results thanks to excellent funding and disciplined strategies.
A Scottish golfer, Connor Syme, 20, also won the Australian Amateur in January, arguably an even better achievement than his countryman Craig Ross winning the SA Amateur at George. At grassroots level, ClubGolf Scotland introduced more than 50 000 primary school children to golf in 2015.
There’s much that the SA Golf Association can learn and copy from Scottish Golf, if they had the mind and will to do so.The two countries have a good gol ng relationship, and there are key parallels between us. Neither of us are that big in world gol ng terms, but we have a shared passion and talent for the game. During the boom years Scotland reached a peak in 2005 of 263 000 member golfers at 600 courses. That is now down to 220 000 members, but campaigns have turned the tide of declining membership.
We have also seen a liated members of clubs drop to under 120 000 men and 17 000 women, but no one at the SAGA appears to be tackling this as a national problem.
The Scottish Golf Union website presents a clear picture of how di erently they view the future of golf compared to how we do so here. Scottish Golf works closely with each and every one of its clubs, and they have a powerful vision of how to build and grow the game. Their site provides an instructive experience for golfers with valuable and relative information, particularly those new to the game. There’s a Club Finder tab which reveals everything you need to know about every golf club in Scotland – membership o ers, special deals, open competitions for visitors.
You can nd jobs in the golf industry on this site. There’s a Scottish Golf radio show, a 35-minute digital podcast which can be downloaded weekly, and a Scottish Golf membership card for club members which provides a variety of benets. When you look at what they’re doing, and the way they promote the game, by comparison we’re still in the 20th century. Golf clubs here are expected to do everything on their own, without national support.
One of the headings within their website is, What Does Scottish Golf Do For Me? That one statement shows a commitment and promise to every club golfer in Scotland. Could the SAGA get away with saying something like that, and coming up with answers?
Scottish Golf has 7 key goals which they believe will help them realise their vision for the game. They are: Stronger Clubs, More Golfers, Quality Coaching, Winning Golfers, Outstanding Events, Excellent Governance, and Strong Partnership.
Once the new Golf RSA body is up and running, we need to reinvent our vision of golf in this country. Our a liated fees need to be used in growing di erent areas, promoting golf, and not just going to elite programmes and expensive overseas trips.And we need to relook at our development programmes.Are the right children being targeted, or is development only about the underprivileged? There is incredible golfing talent in South Africa, the game is still popular, we have wonderful courses, but we need improved and inspirational leadership from those who control the game here.