How many World Handicap System queries do you think the governing body received last year? You probably need to times your guess by 10, as Steve Carroll reports

England Golf fielded a “quite staggering” 30,000 World Handicap System questions from clubs and members in 2021.

The huge figure was revealed in the governing body’s Annual Review as chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson and chairman Nic Coward reflected on another “tumultuous but ultimately successful year” for the sport.

But, despite the sheer volume of emails and calls and continuing difficulties around aspects of the system, including the Playing Conditions Calculation and the ability to digitally transfer scores across countries, the pair said they believed WHS was now “strongly rooted in the game”.

Last year, NCG revealed the handicapping department at England Golf had received 47,000 enquiries between the launch of the new system in November 2020 and Christmas.

In May 2021, they were still coming in at an average of 1,700 a week and Tomlinson and Coward hailed the team’s “swift” response to those questions.

“There was always going to be a bedding-in period following the biggest change to handicapping in a century, but we believe that WHS is now strongly rooted in the game,” they said.

Elsewhere, on the huge boost in participation seen through the pandemic, which saw the number of affiliated members to England Golf rise by 90,000 to 737,021, the pair added that keeping members was now as important as recruitment in the club game.

“With many clubs now operating waiting lists, retention as much as recruitment becomes a key focus and we will provide ongoing support in this area.”

And they added that a forward-thinking equality, diversity and inclusion strategy is “something we must deliver on” as the governing body looked to make the game accessible to everyone.

Tomlinson and Coward said: “It’s often said that golf is a sport for all ages and anyone, from any background, can take up the game. That is true.

“However, the reality is that for many of the groups in society that are under-represented in the game, this has not been the case.

“We must continue to break down barriers and make a difference.”

You can read the full Annual Review on the England Golf website.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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