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World Handicap System Golfer marking scorecard

Scheme to offer non-club members an official handicap to launch this summer

England Golf have confirmed their independent golfer project will run alongside a push to encourage people to sign up to golf clubs
 

England Golf’s independent golfer scheme will be launched by the end of June, it has been confirmed.

Answering ‘common club queries’ in an FAQ on their website, the governing body said all golfers would be able to obtain an official handicap index by then, although the exact date has yet to be finalised.

England Golf have been posting weekly updates from a working group set up to implement the project, which will give non-members a World Handicap System index along with personal liability insurance.

They also addressed two questions frequently asked by clubs: ‘Why would golfers join a club if they can obtain an official handicap through England Golf?’ and ‘Will introducing a handicap for independent golfers not have a detrimental knock-on effect on membership numbers?’

On the first, England Golf said: “There is so much more to being a member of a good golf club than the provision of a handicap. The benefits of membership far outweigh those being offered to an independent golfer through the new connectivity platform.

“We will support clubs to focus on the many added positives of golf club membership. These include important playing rights, social opportunities, regular competition play and a sense of belonging.

“During 2021, the ‘Membership: Give it a shot’ campaign will once again be central to our promotion of the game.”

On the effects on membership, they added: “In other countries where a similar scheme has been rolled out there is no significant negative effect on membership numbers.

“In fact, by drawing avid, independent golfers closer to a local club it provides that club with the opportunity to showcase what it has on offer and to profit from an increased regular spend on food and beverage, tuition, green fees and merchandise.”

The working group affirmed that independent golfers would use the My England Golf app to input scores and added they had started to “explore the roles and responsibilities of a centralised England Golf Handicap Committee.”

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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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