Martin Gilbert, the recently retired chief executive of Scottish Open sponsor Aberdeen Standard Investments, is to be the new chair of Scottish Golf, the governing body for the amateur game in Scotland.
The 65-year-old grew the company he funded as Aberdeen Asset Management in 1983 into one of the globe’s leading wealth management companies, but in the public eye has become synonymous with the company’s wide-ranging support of golf in Scotland at all levels.
Gilbert retired from the company this summer but has accepted a place on the board of the European Tour and has now agreed to succeed Eleanor Cannon at Scottish Golf’s AGM in March of next year.
“As many people know, golf has been a lifelong passion of mine and I’m hugely excited to be taking up this role,” he said, “I commend Eleanor and her team for their sterling leadership of the new amalgamated body since its inception in 2015.
“The strategic direction that has been adopted by Scottish Golf is bold and exciting. I am very much looking forward to progressing that strategy and working closely with the board, the team ad membership to develop the game at all levels.”
Cannon described Gilbert’s appointment as “a tremendous coup for golf in Scotland”.
“Martin’s achievements in business globally and in his role as the biggest supporter of Scottish golf in the last two decades speak for themselves,” she said.
“I am sure his dynamic approach will allow Scottish Golf to flourish and I am extremely pleased that our members and our sport will benefit from Martin’s guidance and undoubted love for golf in the years ahead,”
The governing body has had a particularly difficult time during the pandemic with large cuts in service and personnel and widespread criticism from stakeholders about Cannon’s leadership.
Chief Executive Andrew McKinlay – the third to occupy the position during Canon’s tenure – resigned in April amid claims Scotland’s golf clubs were refusing to pay subscriptions to the governing bodies and there was a revenue shortfall of £1 million.
Earlier that month the governing body scrapped its entire programme of events and performance programmes for 2020. Karin Sharp, the former chief operating officer, has been acting as chief executive for the last seven months.
— Paul Lawrie (@PaulLawriegolf) November 30, 2020
Gilbert began his involvement in golf by backing Paul Lawrie when his fellow Aberdonian was starting out as a professional, and with the success of that partnership expanded to support many of Scotland’s best players, including Catriona Matthew, Colin Montgomerie, Marc Warren and more recently Robert MacIntyre.
Aberdeen Standard also were the main sponsors of the Scottish amateur golf national teams for many years. The company’s highest profile involvement has been as the headline sponsor of the men’s Scottish Open since 2012, and also the women’s Scottish Open since 2011.