R&A, Ladies' Golf Union complete merger

R&A, Ladies' Golf Union complete merger

Euro Tour

R&A, Ladies' Golf Union complete merger

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The R&A’s campaign to persuade the British government to give golf more backing has been strengthened by the news that the R&A will take over the Ladies’ Golf Union as of Jan. 1, 2017.

The R&A and LGU signed a merger agreement in June of this year. That merger was officially announced Monday. The R&A assumes responsibility for staging the LGU’s championships and international matches from next year, while LGU Board members gain representation on relevant R&A committees.

“The integration of the two organizations puts us in a better, stronger position to realize our collective vision for growing the game of golf around the world,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.

Trish Wilson, Chair of the LGU, said: “Bringing the two organizations together creates a platform that will allow us to develop our aspirations for women’s golf on a global stage and encourage more girls and women to play golf and become members of clubs.”

The R&A will take on the responsibility of running major LGU events such as the Ricoh Women’s British Open, the Ladies British Amateur Championship and international matches such as the Curtis Cup, when it is staged in Great Britain & Ireland. The R&A will stage 21 competitions for men and women next year as a result.

The merger should help in Slumbers’ effort to get the British government to take golf more seriously. The R&A chief executive spent a significant part of 2016 stressing golf’s importance to British life and the British economy.

“I’ve tried very hard to create a dialogue with government,” Slumbers said. “What I’ve been trying to explain and create evidence for is that golf is an important part of our society and the way our lives work. It’s important to the economy.

“We commissioned a report this year on the economic value of golf in the UK. There was a number of data in there, but one of the interesting ones was that this game paid just under £1 billion in tax. That’s a serious number. It’s opened up lots of very interesting avenues for the game to be able to talk to government about things that impact them. Their response has become increasingly positive.

“We’re looking at not just the economic value but the health value of golf, and the benefits there. Our conversations have been positive with them. It’s an important dialogue that imprints that golf is more than just a game; it is a part of our social fabric.”

Bringing the LGU into the R&A fold should also help in Slumbers’ aim to improve amateur golf. Slumbers spent the first part of 2016 working on a strategic review. He identified amateur golf as one of the pillars of the R&A’s work in governing the game.

“We will continue to increase and invest in amateur golf to help the amateur game,” Slumbers said. “In this year, my views around helping the amateur game have become more robust.”

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