By John Cockayne | From BG Magazine


JC: You are on record as saying that the sport of golf needs to be aware that environmental and governance-related legislation continues to be promulgated, at an ever-increasing pace, with the regulatory authorities building capacity to enforce compliance. In this same context, you have also said that it would be better to be ahead of the requirements in terms of compliance, as opposed to sitting on our hands now, and then trying to play catch-up, when we hear the inevitable knock on the door. In terms of environmental awareness and governance, as a sports community, in a summarised form, where are the key areas that you feel we need to ‘up our game’?

AC: In the 2021 John Collier Survey for South African Golf Courses, the research indicated that in terms of good governance and environmental compliance, the level sat at just under 31%. The results for 2022 are due to be published shortly, and it will be very interesting to see where this number will be. Notwithstanding, that many of South Africa’s golf clubs have started the ‘journey’, and in fact are already well in step with the requirements, I feel that the summary would be best pitched at its most basic level, within which, I think that the following elements are key. First, club management needs to put in place a rigorous process that monitors, records and reports relevant data in and around the course. The mantra is; that which is not monitored cannot be managed.

The second is participating in an independent third-party review of the aforementioned data.

JC: We hear much said about the need for transparency, especially in terms of corporate and government activities. Where does this need fit into the golf sector and how important is it?

AC: Simply put, and irrespective of the business sector – transparency is a cornerstone of good governance. It is therefore vital for golf, as this transparency builds confidence in the management team, and builds trust in the brand (i.e., the golf club) with its members, potential members, the general public and regulatory authorities.

JC: We have covered this point, albeit in a fragmented form, through various FAQs segments within the John Collier Survey’s section, in previous issues of BGM, but I think that it would be well worth revisiting here, and possibly in more detail than we were able to before. In phrasing the question, it is from the perspective, as per your previous comment, of those golf clubs that might not have started the process at all, or who are behind where they should be.

The question is in two parts:

  1. There is a raft of compliance requirements, in an environmental sense, required of all clubs – what are the ‘essential’ and non-negotiable items that apply to all golf clubs, irrespective of resources, staff size, etc.?
  2. A number of queries have come from smaller clubs, in which concerns have been expressed about how they should be looking at the requirements, and how they might be expected to cope, given their staff size and operational resources.

AC: The response to your two-part question above is; when last did your club management, and or board, sit down and carry out a formal risk assessment of the club? Risk management is an enabling process that supports management, and the board or governing body, in meeting its strategic and business objectives. Notwithstanding the size of a club, in terms of membership numbers, and or budgets, clubs need to make strategic choices, and the implementation thereof requires certain risk-taking. The risk management process is therefore an integral part of strategy setting requirements, and management process, as the information produced through it, along with other sources of information, informs management decisions.

To underpin the risk management process, principles 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the King IV Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016 (“King IV™”), issued by the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa, encourage all entities (including golf clubs) to adopt a risk management policy and framework that is based on best practices. It is this strong governance process that can help lead golf club management teams, to discover their own solutions to the aforementioned questions.