England Golf and the Independent Golfer
Having dismissed the idea, in July 2020, of offering golfers, who are not members of an affiliated golf club, the means of attaining a recognised Handicap Index, England Golf, under pressure from the R&A have performed a ‘’U-turn’ and set up a national working party that is looking into offering a handicap index and personal liability insurance to golfers who are not members of a golf club.
This is part of a core strategy from the R&A to promote greater enjoyment for all that play the sport by enabling as many golfers as possible (members and independent golfers) to establish and maintain a handicap.
The R&A estimate that there are between 1.2 and 1.8 million people who play golf but are not members of any golf club.
Looking at Flexible membership schemes that are in operation especially in the USA and New Zealand, England Golf suggest that golfers will be willing to pay around £40 to access the handicap, to be used by about 125,000 golfers within five years, which equates to roughly £5 million. At least 25,000 golfers are projected to use the scheme within the first 12 months of launching.
Despite reservations from many Counties on the timing of the introduction of this scheme, especially as Clubs are still coming to terms with the WHS, England Golf is planning to introduce the scheme by the end of June 2021.
Golf clubs are under no obligation to be involved in the scheme but are being asked to consider allowing Independent Golfers the opportunity to play in Clubs’ Open Competitions or even Monthly Medals etc.
It is also suggested that Clubs might even consider organising Competitions for Independent Golfers.
The idea is that by encouraging Independent Golfers to become involved in Club Competitions some might see the greater benefits of being a member of a Golf club and consider joining.
The costs of running the scheme might be in the region of £2,000,000 with the remaining revenue being plied back into grass roots golf.
England Golf are issuing regular monthly updates on the progress of the scheme, which can be accessed by following the link below.