Sunday, 28 November 2010

SLGA/SGU Amalgamation

Sixty-six ladies converged on Kingsknowe Golf Club, last Wednesday, this being the venue for one of the SLGA organised roadshows to promote the proposed amalgamation between the SLGA and the SGU. It was not an opportunity for all and sundry to come, have a free coffee and biscuit, listen to a presentation, ask some questions and go home, satisfied that they had left apathy at home and shown a positive interest in ladies' golf affairs. This was a limited invitation of two representatives from each club in Midlothian and East Lothian - and they wanted answers.

Sixty-six must have seemed a fairly respectable number considering Fife drew in approximately thirty-five and Angus, only fourteen and that included both speakers and the person who put out the chairs. Sixty-six at Kingsknowe still meant that some clubs were unrepresented. Was this a measure of the interest in this historic proposal which is effectively the death-knell of more than a century of the SLGA - not of course the death-knell of ladies' golf but the beginning of a new phase - whatever that might be.

To present the SLGA "side" was Lorna Bennett(pictured above) a Fife lawyer, Senior Ladies Internationalist and the SLGA representative for the East of Scotland. She was assisted by Janet Wake who is approaching the end of her term on the the SLGA, was a former Midlothian County Captain and is now the Midlothian President. Lorna did not require any back-up as she was, typically,very well prepared indeed, knowing exactly what she knew and, what was equally valuable(and freely admitted) exactly what she didn't. At the beginning of her talk, she invited the ladies present to ask questions at any time, before, during or after her presentation. What she couldn't answer she promised to relay back to the Board for clarification and this hopefully would lead to inclusion or acceptable changes to the proposal.

Lorna went through the proposal, which is available for all to see on the SLGA website, pretty much point by point in uncomplicated detail. Initially the audience was quiet and attentive, until one person asked for clarification on a point and after that the floodgates were opened and the questions came fast and furious. Furious is the wrong word because of course no one was in the slightest bit hostile as there was no reason to be. Maybe there might have been an initial feeling of "shoot the messenger" by those openly against the amalgamation, but Lorna's calm and obviously sincere approach prevented any such thing. And so questions flowed from the stalls and were answered to general satisfaction from the floor, the flavour of the evening being definitely more of a discussion than a pre-general election hecklers' meeting.

Topics causing most concern were first of all, possible redundancies of SLGA staff together with the anomaly of having at one and the same time possibly three CEO's - one from the SLGA, one from the SGU both with contracts still to run and a new CEO representing the new Scotland Golf Limited - a huge financial outlay. Lorna was at pains to allay any fears with regard redundancies from the SLGA side, who could not possibly run with less and she thought it highly unlikely that the SGU would feel they could do with less staff either. She identified two officials on the existing SLGA Board - all voluntary of course which is often forgotten or ignored - who give so much of their time to SLGA business, they must have forgotten what their own firesides looked like. It was to be noticed this did not include reference to herself and this was the third roadshow in so many days!

The per capita situation was also discussed where all ladies would be members of a county whether they wished to be or not, although counties would not be forced to adopt this.

The gender issue was contentious, whereby the number of ladies initially on the new body would be protected but only for three years. Thereafter there was a genuine fear that by virtue of sheer weight of numbers - gents:ladies are 6:1 - ladies might never be voted in with a potentially disastrous effect on matters appertaining to ladies.

Sponsorship issues and Sportscotland and how much would actually come the way of the ladies especially after the Ryder Cup in Scotland had been and gone. Lorna freely admitted that she was under the impression that this legacy would feel the draught of the current economic situation.

Both the SLGA and the SGU have separate premises, neither of which would be large enough to house the new body with its combined staff. Obviously new premises would need to be found but the leases of both properties have years to go so no saving here, only increased expense as these existing leases are seen out. As for bringing out a new logo and the rebranding of everything under the banner of the new Scotland Golf Limited, has this been costed?

It does seem that to continue to push all this through when there are so many unresolved loose ends, is, to say the least, a little hasty. Even supposing all the niggles and doubts and genuine worries are taken on board, is there now enough time to have it all completed by their cut-off date? The fact remains that maybe this amalgamation is indeed the best way forward but only when every angle has been examined and resolved. Where is the advantage in rushing everything through at breakneck speed if it is not done properly. It is much too late after the event, when it is signed, sealed and delivered legally only to find that there are areas which have not been clarified. So it made complete sense when a proposal came from one of the ladies to defer the amalgamation completely until we had all the facts before us, to our complete satisfaction. More to the point when we would have a better idea of exactly how much all this would cost.

Roadshows promoting the proposed SLGA/SGU Amalgamation are taking place all over Scotland. There may be some objection, to the word 'promoting' as if this event is a frantic sales pitch but there has been very little obvious attempt to involve the membership in this process up to the issuing of "The Proposal". We therefore can scarcely be blamed for feeling left-out. What have we got an SLGA for, one may argue, if we don't let them get on with running the day-to-day affairs. We should be grateful to them. Well we are (grateful) and we do (let them get on with the day-to-day running of our affairs, more-or-less) - but the total break-up of the SLGA as we have known it, the handing-over of everything that women have lived and died for - OK that's a bit OTT - is surely worthy of a little more of a say in something as important and final as this. You are involved (they may say) you're getting roadshows aren't you, you can ask questions can't you and if we can - or want to? - we'll answer them. Ladies, if you may recall last year at the SLGA AGM in Perth, an attempt was made to ask about financial matters pertaining to the future amalgamation. The lady in question was snubbed - and that is the perfect word for it. No polite answering with an apology for the lack of specificity at this stage - just plain snubbed. Which led straightaway to the question, why. The SLGA run our golfing affairs, they are not our masters and they should be transparent at all times. Why cannot we ask questions and why would we not get answers. But with regard to this amalgamation, whether it has been intentional or not, there has been an element of secrecy which can only lead the more cynical to wonder why. When all said and done, this amalgamation might truly be the very best step forward for ladies' golf but is there really such a need to rush it in, especially when the financial situation in the country is, if not fragile, at least uncertain. We know the contribution from Sportscotland is going to decrease this coming year, but it is not known by how much. We have only to look at the papers and television to see what a dreadful state Ireland is in just now. Last year, did the man, or woman, on the street in Dublin have any inkling how bad things would get for them this year? Are they going to be pouring money into Irish Ladies' Golf this coming year. How can we possibly know how we will be situated ourselves. Nothing is guaranteed. It is not possible for anyone holding the moneybags to give any guarantees. Why not wait? No one on the SLGA seems able to categorically say how much we will get from Sportscotland , not because they are withholding this information for their own dark and desperate designs - they don't know. Lorna said this. Get a proper feed-back from the members. Take the time to fill out this proposal with more detail about all the financial queries, include all unanswered questions and send it out again and then, if necessary repeat the whole process. Then and only then will the proper course of action be formulated, one way or another. And what is more, they will know for sure they are carrying the majority of the membership with them which could well be not what they are doing at the moment.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Murrayfield wins the Mail on Sunday Classic in Spain

When competitive golf in Scotland has virtually hibernated, it is something to cheer about to hear of Murrayfield's great success in the Mail on Sunday Classic, held at El Rompido on the Spanish Costa del Sol. The four semifinalist teams, two from Scotland and two from England, bundled all their golf gear on to the aeroplane and met to do battle on November 23rd and 24th far from these shores. However, to all reports, this was hardly played out in lovely warm conditions such as might have been expected as apparently the rain in Spain had not stayed mainly on the plain and it had been raining cats and dogs in El Rompido. At least it has been dry here in the Lothians albeit a trifle nippy!

Three East Vets contributed to Murrayfield's great win - these being Norma Richmond, (their ace reporter), Caroline Johnstone and Ray Lynch, the remaining members of the team being Margaret Fergusson, Lyn Wilson and Rosie Dennis. On Day One, Murrayfield played and won against Wildwood Golf Club from Surrey, the scoreline being a convincing 5 : 0 and this in the face of the opposition all having caddies, always a major advantage in soggy conditions, which according to Norma had to be seen to be believed. Those who played in this game were Margaret Fergusson, Rosie Dennis, Lyn Wilson, Norma Richmond and Caroline Johnstone. The other Scottish team, from Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire were only just beaten to the post 3 : 2 by Beau Desert from Staffordsire or it would have been an all Scottish final.

On Day 2, Murrayfield then faced Beau Desert (weather conditions unclear in the final but obviously the same for both). The Murrayfield team was unchanged except for Ray Lynch playing in place of Rosie Dennis. Margaret Fergusson won by 5 and 4 and Lyn Wilson by 2 and 1. Ray Lynch got a very honourable half in spite of being dormie 2 down - so very well done indeed Ray. Norma unfortunately met heavier opposition and lost by 4 and 3, pushing the scoreline to a knife-edge at 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 with one game to play. All depended on Caroline's game but a 4 and 2 win meant the trophy was their's. Well done indeed Murrayfield and we all hope the well-deserved champagne headaches weren't so bad the next day.

Suffice to say that at a meeting of Midlothian and East Lothian Ladies in Kingsknowe golf club, news of the result was relayed before it started and a rousing cheer could have been heard not only in Murrayfield but even in El Rompido.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Winners at Midlothianladies County AGM and Prizegiving

East Vets managed to walk off with a good proportion of the prizes at the Midlothian Ladies County Golf Association AGM and Prizegiving at Liberton Golf Club tonight. Mary Richardson (Craigmillar Park) took over the captaincy reins from Tracy Laughland - as Mary said in her opening words,a hard act to follow and likewise Janet Wake(Merchants) is the new Midlothian President. Margaret Rodger is now taking a well-earned rest.

Winter Foursomes
Winners Maureen McKay (Kingsknowe) partnered with Katharine Logan
Runners-up Fiona Hunter (Baberton) partnered with Sharon McPherson
Spring Meeting
Bronze Division 1st handicap - Susan Tudball (Murrayfield)
Silver Division 1st Handicap - Denise Mitchell (Murrayfield)
Best Overall Nett Score - Pam Townsend (Murrayfield)
2nd Best Overall - Norma Richmond (Murrayfield)
2nd scratch - Karen Ballantyne (Craigmillar Park)
Midsummer Foursomes
2nd handicap - Maureen Stewart(Glencorse)
Summer Meeting
Silver Division 2nd Handicap - Kate Johnston (Baberton)
Autumn Meeting
2nd scratch - Ruth Brown (Lothianburn)
Summer Hole & Hole
Bronze Quaich runner-up - Susan Tudball (Murrayfield)
Silver Division semi-finalists - Maureen McKay (Kingsknowe), Elsa Todd (Prestonfield)
'B'Championship Cup
Winner Denise Mitchell (Murrayfield)
Runner-up Isobel Halliday (Merchants)

Well done everyone