A strategy for all: Creating a shared vision for golf in Wales
In April, Wales Golf launched its new strategy, outlining how it will deliver across five key areas over the next five years. CEO of Wales Golf, Hannah McAllister shares how the strategy was developed, and why a collaborative, team-lead approach was so important to her.
I took up the role of CEO at Wales Golf nearly two years ago, which gave me 18 months to produce the organisation’s new strategy for golf in Wales, taking us through to 2028.
Golf has changed – and continues to change quite significantly post-Covid, so rather than this strategy being an extension of the last I felt a lot of responsibility to create something that responded appropriately to the changing landscape.
I’d been working with the organisation for nearly 20 years and during that time we’d often tried to do so much we couldn’t focus enough time on what really mattered. It was very important to me therefore, that the new strategy was achievable and would deliver on the things that matter most.
So many strategies are produced by top level staff with little consultation; they use big words and jargon, cover an immense amount of ground, and then often, the document gets put in a drawer. It was absolutely vital that everyone involved in Wales Golf would feel a sense of ownership over the new strategy and commit to making it a success.
Small but mighty
Wales Golf is small in comparison to similar governing bodies; we have 142 member clubs and just 17 staff members.
The size of the organisation means we must work differently, utilising our key activities and partners externally to collaborate and work towards a common goal for the good of the game.
Therefore, this strategy wasn’t only about Wales Golf, it was a strategy to serve the whole sport and unite all the organisations and people we collaborate with to ensure a shared vision for the benefit of golf in Wales.
This is where the temptation comes in to try and cover lots of ground, but to my mind the most powerful strategy would be one where everyone felt a part of them was in it – maximum buy-in from those we collaborate with.
By really focusing on what matters to the game and the people involved in the sport in Wales, we made sure the strategy was achievable. If anything falls outside its parameters, we can say no, that’s not within this strategic cycle.
This is how a small organisation achieves big things: achievable goals, clear priorities, and values that strike a chord with everyone.
Writing the strategy
We enlisted the help of a consultant to support us in ensuring all stakeholders – players, clubs, our funding partners, board members and staff could be involved in the strategic consultation process from start to finish.
Involving the staff was essential, everyone has a part to play and needs to know how their work contributes to the strategy if they are to live by its content.
We did a kick off session with every single employee, looking at the potential vision, the purpose of the organisation, and the landscape. This was followed by a separate session purely focusing on our values; it is our values that will define the way we run the game in Wales and guide our behaviours and decision making.
A key difference between this strategy and the old was our ability to reach out to the players themselves. To gain a better understanding of what’s important we used focus groups and sent out a draft framework to golfers for comment. We were delighted to get 2000 responses to help shape our thinking.
The responses were clear: people play golf for their health and wellbeing and to spend time with friends and family. This information helped shape the strategy and ensured we were creating something that would respond to the needs of current and future golfers. It was also clear that some of our golfers in Wales didn’t fully understand the role Wales Golf plays, or what we do. We saw this as a great opportunity and a strong message that we must improve our communication….and we WILL.
After consulting with other key stakeholders like board members and clubs it became clear that the strategy should also include strong emerging themes such as sustainability, health and wellbeing, digital innovation, and facility development.
Once the strategy was in place, we made sure all operational plans, work programmes, appraisals and goals were linked to the priorities we had set out for year one.
In around six months’ time we’ll enlist the help of our key stakeholders and measure ourselves against the values to gauge how well we’re displaying them and living and breathing them in everything we do, combined with a staff award scheme.
What’s in the 2023-2028 strategy?
Our vision for golf in Wales is: Everyone’s Game: for fun, for sport, for life.
The strategy focuses on five key strategic areas:
Shaping the future – an inclusive and accessible environment to all. There needs to be a version of the game and a club for everyone – whether participating for social reasons, competitively or for the lifelong benefits. We can modernise the game whilst respecting its traditions.
Club and player engagement – Clubs and players are the lifeblood of the game and we will ensure that we provide proactive and high-quality support. We’ll assist clubs to grow a diverse network of volunteers and promote excellent and inclusive club governance structures and environments, and much more besides.
Competitions – It’s important to focus on the accessibility of competitions and create competitive opportunities for all.
High Performance – We want to develop talent to win on the world stage by creating inspirational environments and enhancing the development of our high-class performance programme.
Organisational Development – We want Wales Golf to be a sustainable organisation at the heart of golf in Wales. We’ll build awareness of what the organisation does through better communication, and ensure strong governance and leadership to support the development of the game.
We will action all these important strategic pillars through living and breathing our values: Fun, Real, Inclusive, Collaboration, and Excellence. Our values are so important to us, if we enjoy what we do and we are our real selves it will help everyone to trust and connect with us.
Looking back, the process has taken time and effort but it’s been worth it. Through extensive consultation with all stakeholders, we have a focused, achievable set of goals, and have created a strategy that will – I hope, mean something to everyone delivering it and have a big impact on golf in Wales.