SCOTTISH Golf chief executive Andrew McKinlay has been replaced by Karin Sharp after he stood down yesterday, in the wake of the financial hit the governing body is suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief operating officer Sharp was asked to lead the organisation with immediate effect by Eleanor Cannon, who chairs Scottish Golf, which has now lost three chief executives in four years since the former Scottish and Newcastle brewery director took over as head of its board in 2015.
McKinlay, who joined from the Scottish Football Association in February 2018, decided to leave Scottish Golf on Tuesday to “ensure a sustainable future for Scottish Golf.”
His successor has already taken a 20 per cent pay cut, as has chief commercial officer Iain Forsyth, who will assist Sharp in her new role.
Earlier this month, the game’s governing body significantly reduced staffing numbers through the Government furlough scheme.
In addition – and in response to the global health crisis – the board acted quickly to cancel all of this year’s championships and Scottish Golf events, as well coaching session for its performance squads for the remainder of the 2020 season.
That move meant available resources could be prioritised towards supporting Scottish Golf’s 575 affiliated golf clubs through the “extreme financial challenges” brought on by the closure all clubs in the UK under the Government lockdown, introduced on March 23.
Eleanor Cannon said in a statement: “The board and executive team have had to make very tough decisions in order to focus on ensuring we are in a sustainable position going forward when courses reopen.
“With many clubs feeling the financial strain, which in turn has had a knock-on effect on our income, we have prioritised expenditure accordingly.
“Now more than ever we need strong leadership backed up by robust actionable plans.
“I am very pleased to announce the board has invited Karin Sharp to lead the organisation with immediate effect, from her current role as chief operating officer.”
From banking to golf administration
SHARP worked for RBS for 23 years, mostly in its corporate and commercial banking division before moving into golf adminstration.
She joined Scottish Ladies Golfing Association in November 2013 as chief operating officer and, following the amalgamation in 2015, continued in the same role for Scottish Golf.
Karin said: “In response to these unprecedented circumstances we have issued a short financial health check survey to our member clubs which seeks to gather key information, specifically around the impact of COVID-19 to golf club operations.
“This detail will directly contribute to, and significantly inform, our ongoing dialogue with Scottish Government in relation to the struggles faced by golf in Scotland.
“This information is crucial. To enable us to represent the situation accurately and effectively, I urge all clubs to complete the survey at the earliest opportunity.”
Scottish Golf is also hosting the first of its weekly support webinars, open to all member golf clubs, later today.
Sharp added: “We have brought together experts from golf club management, finance, marketing and commercial disciplines that are on hand to offer advice on the significant challenges our clubs are currently facing.”
A spokesman added that Scottish Golf: “Continues to be in active dialogue with Scottish Government, sportscotland and the R&A on the up-to-date guidance and advice relative to the current health and economic crisis.”
Sharp will be supported by Forsyth, who has spent more than 30 years working in the golf industry, and is behind the introduction of Scottish Golf’s venue management system (VMS).
The new product has attracted public criticism from some clubs who feel they are being forced to ditch their existing software systems.
That is because the new World Handicapping System will only be accessible via Scottish Golf’s new VMS, when it is rolled out north of the border later this year.
The VMS will allow clubs to sell tee times online and manage other club functions as do rival software systems.
The latter can also calculate handicap allowances for all club competitions, home and away under the current arrangement with CONGU, but have been told they will not be able to when WHS is introduced.
Former Scottish Football chief leaves after two years
McKINLAY, who left the Scottish Football Association in Feburary 2018, paid tribute to the team he worked with at Scottish Golf, for just over two years.
He said: “It has been a privilege to lead this fantastic organisation and I am grateful to Eleanor and the board for the opportunity.
“Above all I am indebted to the team at Scottish Golf for their commitment in implementing the objectives to take the game forward towards a sustainable and, indeed, prosperous future.”
Cannon thanked the outgoing chief executive who was forced to put two-thirds of his staff on furlough leave under the UK Government scheme last month.
Cannon said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Andrew for his contribution to Scottish Golf over the past two years.
“He brought a wealth of experience to what can be a pressurised role. He has helped take the organisation forward and has now taken a very difficult decision at this challenging time.
“I thank him for doing so and wish him the very best for the future.”
Dodds succeeded Hamish Grey, who had steered the Scottish Golf Union through its drawn-out merger with the Scottish Ladies Golf Association – which was finally approved in 2015.
Grey stepped down from his increased role as head of the combined organisation just three months after his formal appointment to the new role.