A bid to raise the levy paid by each playing member of an affiliated Scottish golf club from £14.50 to £15.75 had been due to be voted on by stakeholders at Sunday’s annual general meeting at a hotel in North Queensferry.
But, after taking on board feedback from Area and Counties in a series of meetings with Interim CEO Fraser Thornton over the past couple of weeks, a decision has been delayed until later in the year.
The proposed rise would see the governing body bring in additional £225,000 through that revenue stream but some of the Areas and Counties have questioned the need for such a step to be taken at a time when reserves currently stand at approximately £1.6 million.
“We postponed the vote on the levy until September because it’s quite clear that we need to do a bit more consultation,” Martin Gilbert, Scottish Golf chairman, told The Scotsman at the conclusion of the meeting in Fife.
“I think people want to understand what it’s going to be used for basically, so Fraser is going to work on that for the next six months and then we’ll go back to the membership with the overall strategy and thinking on the levy.”
At the meeting, Paul Gibson was voted in as the new president while nominations were approved for Alan Grant, Robert Cook and Ian Smith to become board directors.
“The tone was very positive today,” added Gilbert. “There were some very good points raised, including one of the members, for instance, pointing out that in England you only pay once but, in Scotland, you can pay multiple times, so we said we will look at that.
“One of the things that has probably made members think is that we are sitting on quite a bit of cash pile as we’ve got a good surplus this year so, quite rightly, they are saying ‘why do you need it?’
“I think they just want to know what the strategy is going forward. We are very ambitious and I don’t think we have probably got that through to the membership yet.
“We took the view from some of Fraser’s consultation with the Areas and Counties that they wanted further dialogue with us, so we have postponed that resolution until September. We want to be seen to be consultative and communicative.”
Thornton stepped off the board to act as interim CEO while a search is undertaken for someone to fill that role on a permanent basis. Karin Sharp, the COO, and Iain Forsyth, the chief commercial officer, were in attendance at the meeting, with both having been encouraged by Gilbert and Thornton to throw their hats in the ring.
“It wasn’t hugely negative to all the things in principle as such,” said Thornton of his meetings with the Areas and Counties. “It was more around them saying that we feel we want more engagement around these things before we unilaterally ask to sign up to whatever it might be. That was really the message that I got and it was interesting that when we moved into the question session today, there weren’t an awful lot of questions.”