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Controversial independent golfer handicap scheme gets launch date

England Golf have revealed more details about their project to give non-club members an official handicap after the business model was agreed and put in place
 

England Golf’s scheme to offer non-members an official handicap is expected to launch in early July.

The governing body’s independent golfer initiative will cost subscribers £40 a year and will see players gain a World Handicap System index, as well as personal liability insurance and access to England Golf’s app to post scores, track progress and engage with other golfers.

In a letter sent to affiliated clubs, England Golf also confirmed golfers who have left a club within the last six months would not be eligible to join the scheme and that county and national events would remain open to golf club members only.

It would be at the discretion of clubs, the letter said, to create an independent golfer-only competition or whether to “integrate them into some or all of the existing club competitions”.

Golfers will obtain an index in the usual way, by submitting scores from 54 holes of golf in any combination of nine and 18-hole scores. All rounds need to be pre-registered on the England Golf app and, on completion, must be “digitally verified by a playing partner who is either a golf club member or subscriber to the new platform”.

Surplus cash generated from the new platform would be invested back into the game, with areas of investment that could include special projects funding for golf clubs, women and girls’ participation, junior development and support for disability and minority groups.

The governing body said that, since January, a working group had “consulted with clubs, counties and other stakeholders on plans to develop the platform for independent golfers with the ultimate aim of driving golf club membership” and that the final business model had been agreed.

The scheme will be open to any golfer with a home address in England with registration taking place online for a 12-month rolling subscription.

“Subscribers will sit outside of the current affiliation framework (including membership of the county”.

The letter also reveals that England Golf will “carry out all administration duties with no burden of work on clubs or counties”.

For clubs that wish to engage with subscribers of the new scheme, it added: “A simple process will be put in place for clubs to notify England Golf of opportunities they wish to promote to this audience.

“This may, for example, include the following: green fee promotions, competition and event entry, club membership offers.

“England Golf will communicate directly with golfers interested in exploring these offers and provide a platform to share details”.

For more on the scheme, visit the Independent Golfer update at England Golf’s website.

What do you think of the independent golfer scheme? Are you a non-member that will sign up? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

The NCG Podcast with England Golf chief Jeremy Tomlinson

England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson joined me on From the Clubhouse, an NCG Podcast, to discuss the independent golfer scheme and much more.

Listen in the player below or on your preferred podcast platform.

Subscribe to NCG

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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