Case Study - Richard Dixon Golf

What impact has the Governance and Leadership Framework for Wales had on Wales Golf?

"The timing of the introduction to the framework was fantastic for us because we had already started on a full governance review just before the framework came out.

"When the framework did come out it helped to guide us and focus our minds on the right areas to improve.

"The first thing we did was to agree that we had to go to open recruitment for the board of directors to make us as diverse as possible.

"The most important principle for us was getting people with the right skills and abilities. We also had to ensure that all the personnel involved bought into our values and the way we wanted to run the organisation and be perceived so that was another very important area.

"However skilled or talented the individuals are if they don't buy into the culture and values of the organisation then it is an uphill task.

What Principles have you focused on most?

"The main principle we focused on was number four (balanced, inclusivity and skilled board). To get to the stage where we are now where we are comfortable with the makeup and skillset of the board probably took us the best part of four years.

"We were looking for independent members of the board, so we advertised it and had a very strong set of applicants which we were very pleased with. We then had a pretty robust selection process which included a panel of interviewees, a selection panel and we also involved Sport Wales as part of that, so it was independent. We were very fortunate with the quality of people that we recruited.

"Once we recruited the personnel, we then had to turn them into a living and moving board that could help take us forward so that's where principle three comes in. We had to give them an induction and work on a strategy, so we had a two-day brainstorming session which was facilitated by someone we had worked with before who had plenty of experience in this area. It worked brilliantly because we had a group of people who didn't really know one another. Over the two day's they then got to know each other, understand and define the culture needed.

"I would imagine most sports would say finance is key to how they perform in the future and is one of the threats to their organisations. But the real skill is to manage that human and financial source and make sure that you don't waste that. This is where all the values and strategies come into play. You also have to be pretty hard faced about it and make tough decisions.

"If you want to be a really high performing organisation then you have to go through a constant improvement cycle. Something that is key is coming up with your own skills matrix which helped to guide us."

What challenges does Wales Golf face in the future and how has the GLFW allowed you to prepare for those challenges?

"One of the main challenges is the gender split, particularly around golf club membership. What we are finding is that over 50% of the applicants and participants in our introductory schemes are female but when it comes to club membership, we are still seeing that at around 85% are male so there is obviously something wrong there.

"It's a massive opportunity for golf facilities although some are struggling due to low numbers, so we have a responsibility as an organisation to address that. It will be a challenge but it's certainly not insurmountable. A lot of sports get a lot of bad press around equality issues but it's all about attitudes and there are a lot of golf clubs working hard to change their offering to help make golf more attractive to families and females and long term it will make the game a lot more enjoyable for everybody.

"If you go to Finland or Sweden you will see families going out to play golf over a weekend but it's less common in Wales. We need to do a lot of work in that area and we are confident we can do something about it. It's not going to happen tomorrow, and it may take a few years but it's about creating positivity, working with golf clubs around everything to do with equality in a positive sense."

To meet that challenge how are you going to apply the framework?

"If you have the right culture, the right values and the right board then they understand the key issues of improving the percentage of female's in golf. As an organisation we have gone through all the equality training and hopefully we can be one of the first sports to achieve equality standards and the safeguarding standards are at level three, so we are working on all the underpinning areas which is essential for our organisation. We are now encouraging clubs and facilities to do the same thing because if you get the solid foundations in place to make you act in the right way and make the right decisions then it will create a trend going forward."