England Golf chief: ‘Independent golfer scheme is not competing with club membership’

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Richard Flint, England Golf's chief operating officer, updated members on the platform to give nomadic players a handicap in a GCMA Hot Topics webinar... Strong clubs should “back themselves and not worry” about the independent golfer scheme, England Golf’s second in command told managers. In an update on the new platform in a Hot Topics webinar, Richard Flint, the governing body’s chief operating officer, said giving nomadic players an official handicap was “not competing with club membership”. Asked whether handing non-club members a World Handicap System index was taking away a reason to be a member – harming both recruitment and retention – Flint said: “Handicap isn’t the biggest driver of why individuals join a golf club”. He added: “Whether it’s social, whether it’s community, whether it’s competitive, handicap isn’t the big driver and certainly the insight and data tells us that. “Of course, it’s an important part of golf club membership from a competitive element. We’re not concerned that this will take away from golf club membership. “Individuals that want to join a golf club want [to do so] for many more reasons than purely a handicap. But if by offering that handicap to independent golfers, we can increase avidness and regularity of play then, from a financial investment point of view, these individuals will see the benefit of golf club membership beyond purely that handicap and regular play.” England Golf’s independent golfer initiative will launch in the first two weeks of next month and will cost subscribers £40 a year. As well as an official handicap, players will receive personal liability insurance and access to the My England Golf app to post scores and track their progress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjjekSKI9dE Golfers who leave a club will have to wait six months before becoming eligible to join the scheme and county and national events will continue to be the preserve of golf club members only. England Golf hope the scheme will prove to be a pathway into membership for independent players and Flint added: “I think something as an organisation we’ve said before is that those golf clubs that have a strong business model, that have strong governance, that believe in themselves, should back themselves and not worry about this independent golfer scheme. “It’s not competing with club membership. It’s not intended to. It’s meant to move people and independent golfers along that golfer journey. “We understand that some golf clubs have concerns. But those safeguards we’ve also built into the system, around the six-month timeline, hopefully will reassure those golf clubs, who were a little bit concerned at the start of this process, that we’re protecting golf clubs but also encouraging golfers into membership.” Flint reiterated there would be no extra work involved for clubs, with the governing body taking charge of all the administration and technical aspects of the scheme. “England Golf will carry out all administration duties with regards to both the scheme and the handicap elements so there won’t be any burden or work on golf clubs or...
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