England golf’s non-member handicap scheme is now open

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The governing body has invited players to pre-register for its platform offering World Handicap System indexes to non-club members

England Golf’s new digital community – which will offer official handicaps to non-club members – has opened for pre-registration.

The governing body is appealing to players to become one of the first subscribers to iGolf, which it calls a “historic progression for the amateur game in England”.

Branded as England Golf’s official digital community, 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, which is expected to launch officially later this month, will cost subscribers £40 and follows the launch in Scotland of OpenPlay, the first scheme for independent golfers in the UK.

Wales and Ireland are expected to follow with similar initiatives in the coming months.

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.

Last month, Richard Flint, the governing body’s chief operating officer, said strong clubs should back themselves and not worry about the independent golfer scheme as some concerns have persisted about whether it would provide a pathway or entice people to leave club membership.

To find out more about iGolf, and to pre-register an interest in joining the scheme, visit England Golf’s website.

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