England Golf’s new digital community – which will offer official handicaps to non-club members – has now launched.
The governing body has called iGolf an “historic progression for the amateur game in England” and 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 costs subscribers £40 and follows the launch in Scotland of OpenPlay, the first scheme for independent golfers in the UK. Golfers can head to www.englandigolf.co.uk to get started, pay their subscription, download the My EG app and start entering verifiable scores to obtain a handicap index. Golfers who were previously club members will, where possible, have their handicap index reinstated.
Independent golfer programmes have not been without controversy, but are a key plank 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 previously 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 Woodhall Spa-based organisation, with costs estimated at about £2 million. England Golf has pledged that any surplus made would be reinvested back into golf.
Jeremy Tomlinson, England Golf chief executive, said: “iGolf is an exciting progression for the amateur game in England and one that we believe will help safeguard the future of our sport. This new platform will help us to connect with a large proportion of the golfing public who we weren’t reaching before, providing a new avenue to grow the game across the country.
“When people have a measurement for performance in any activity, they naturally want to do it more in order to improve. By providing an official measure of performance for non-club members via a WHS handicap index, we can break down many of the barriers to uptake of the game.
“Our primary aim is to encourage play, increase the connection between non-club members and their local facilities and provide avid golfers with a clear pathway to club membership should they choose to make this progression. Through iGolf we can look to bring more revenue into the sport generally, and specifically for our 1,800 affiliated golf clubs and facilities in England.”
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