England Golf – Update on Independent Golfers 3 July 2021
The move to offer golfers in England, who are not members of Golf Clubs, official World Handicap System Handicap Indexes moves ever closer.
England Golf, in a recent update to Independent Golfers, is inviting players to pre-register for its digital platform offering World Handicap System indexes to non-club members.
This new digital community, which will offer official handicaps to non-club members, has opened for pre-registration.
England Golf is appealing to players to become one of the first subscribers to iGolf, which it calls a “historic progression for the amateur game in England”.
Branded as England Golf’s official digital community, it will give players the chance to receive an official WHS handicap index and personal liability insurance while connecting players who are not members of clubs across the country.
The scheme, which is expected to launch officially later this month, will cost subscribers £40 per year and follows the launch in Scotland of OpenPlay, the first scheme for independent golfers in the UK.
Wales and Ireland are expected to follow with similar initiatives in the coming months.
Independent golfer programmes have attracted much controversy but are a key feature of the R&A and USGA’s plans, following the launch of the World Handicap System, to make golf as inclusive as possible.
England Golf has projected that at least 25,000 golfers could sign up to the scheme within the first 12 months of its launch with 125,000 within five years.
That could bring in as much as £5 million to the organisation, with costs estimated at about £2 million. England Golf has pledged that they will shoulder the running costs and any surplus made would be reinvested back into golf.
Last month, Richard Flint, the England Golf’s chief operating officer, said clubs should back themselves and not worry about the independent golfer scheme as some concerns have persisted about whether it would provide a pathway or entice people to leave club membership.
He said that giving nomadic players an official handicap was “not competing with club membership” and asked whether handing non-club members a World Handicap System index was taking away a reason to be a member – harming both recruitment and retention – Flint said: “Handicap isn’t the biggest driver of why individuals join a golf club”.
To find out more about iGolf, and to pre-register an interest in joining the scheme, visit England Golf’s iGolf website.