Chief executive Tom Brooke revealed the questions the GCMA will put to England Golf as a working group convened to discuss the Independent Golfer project Sixty per cent of GCMA members who answered an online survey say they do not support the Independent Golfer project. Nearly three quarters also said they will not look to offer competitions to golfers who sign up to the scheme and are given an official handicap, while more than half believe its introduction will not contribute to an increase in participation. A total of 390 members responded to the Association’s online questionnaire and the results showed the scale of opposition to the scheme, which England Golf will launch by the end of June. Those results came as GCMA chief executive Tom Brooke revealed an internal Working Party had been formed to consider the project. He stressed that "without the support and delivery by Clubs and by Club Managers, the project will simply not work" and added he was "pushing back quite actively" on the intended launch date. Brooke said: "Our working party consists of 24 GCMA Members, with an even split in terms of support for and against the project. "However, we have formed the party on the basis of everyone involved accepting that the project IS going ahead and our responsibility is now to accurately represent the concerns, and the opportunities that the scheme is likely to present for Clubs and Club Managers." He said the Working Party had a number of key focus points to present back to England Golf, which included asking how the governing body could win over the objections of managers who opposed the scheme and what the roadmap for launch would look like. On the survey results, while 85% of those who answered are managers of member-oriented clubs, which are open to visitors, 53% said they had not been consulted by their county representative on the Independent Golfer proposals. Only 23% indicated their support for the scheme, with 17% unsure where they stood. When asked ‘will your club be looking to offer competitions for golfers on the independent golfer handicap scheme?’, just 1% said yes, while 11% indicated they would with conditions. 72% said they would not offer tournaments for non-member players. Managers said their main concerns were that the scheme would contribute to a decline in membership, would devalue the integrity of the handicapping system, and they queried the timing of the launch in the current coronavirus climate. Questioned on whether the scheme would contribute to an increase in participation – one of the driving forces behind the R&A and England Golf’s desire to see it introduced – 56% said it would not. A further 18% said it would, but 26% were not sure if it would lead to more players arriving at clubs. This week, Tom Brooke also held a meeting, with around 35 members, with Wales Golf CEO Richard Dixon and has made enquiries in Scotland about their plans for an independent golfer initiative. Here he fully explains...
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