Board governance (in other words the management committee of a golf club) is fundamental to the success of non-profit sport organisation such as golf. The guidance of the board in setting direction, and ensuring the organisation maintains that direction in a fiscally responsible manner, is found in organisations ranging from national sport governing bodies to local sports clubs. In essence amateur golf in South Africa, with the exception of the employees of GolfRSA, by and large all other administrators representing amateur golf in South Africa, such as the South African Golf Association and other national representative bodies, the provincial unions and individual golf clubs carry out their functions in an unpaid capacity. In this regard the growth of golf in South Africa is inextricably intertwined with leadership and governance. Over the past few years there has been increasing research into understanding the mechanisms and impact of non-profit sport board performance. Much of this research is focusing on the need to understand the mechanisms that contribute to “teamwork” or dynamics of the volunteer board of directors, its members, and its leaders.

Some of the contemporary issues in a non-profit sport organisation such as golf include volunteer board member identity, board diversity and board leadership. In terms of volunteer board member identity, research indicates that “boards continue to struggle with their identities, roles and functions”, “board member disengagement” and “a lack of regard for individual board members.” This may be a failure to understand board members’ motivation to serve, their interests, needs …. and passions.” There seems to continue to be a gap in sufficiently understanding who board members are, and why they are involved, with implications for their, and the full boards’ performance. In respect of board diversity this is a challenge that many boards continue to face in the governance of their organisation. Diversity among board members may be based on individuals’ attributes, abilities, attitudes, values and expectations but also gender and race. South Africans are also mindful of the legislation such the Employment Equity Act and its provisions. In terms of board leadership, research indicates that leadership continues to be a challenge in non-profit board governance, particularly around understanding the role of the leader in this context. Any ambiguity about this role may be exacerbated by the challenge of the relationship between the board chair and the paid CEO and between the board chair and volunteer board members.

In the end growth of golf is reliant upon leadership and a strong governance environment. Leader behaviour is one of the most researched topics in management studies, yet it is notably missing from non-profit sport board literature. Generally, research is focused on three contemporary theories namely shared leadership, servant leadership, and values-based leadership. Space does not permit elaboration on these theories save to say that the growth of golf is intertwined with governance and leadership whether it is shared, servant or values based.

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