England Golf has today unveiled iGolf, a unique digital community platform that will ‘safeguard the future of the sport’ in England.
In what club golfers are seeing as a controversial move, the application will offer non-club golfers in England their only opportunity to obtain and maintain an official WHS handicap.
England Golf has said that the new scheme will provide a pathway for almost 2.3 million ‘independent golfers’ across the country to play more golf, track their performance, input scores, calculate course handicaps and compete with friends, in the same way club members do under WHS.
“iGolf is an exciting progression for the amateur game in England and one that we believe will help safeguard the future of our sport,” saidEngland Golf CEO, Jeremy Tomlinson.
“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.”
The initiative from England Golf comes a month after Scottish Golf launched its “OpenPlay” scheme. It was met with heavy criticism from certain quarters of the golf community in Scotland.
“This scheme provides nothing towards the day-to-day management and upkeep of courses and facilities,” said golfer Gordon Lynch about Scottish Golf’s new scheme on Facebook. “Ultimately there will be fewer courses left to play.”
Fellow golf fan, Craig Ballantyne, was also left displeased with the news last month.
“Trying to get more people into the game, yet it’s an action that'll lead to a demise of cost effective clubs and therefore courses reducing the number of places these people can play for reasonable green fees,” he said.
On the other hand, some believe it will benefit the game.
“This can only be good for the game in Scotland,” said Neale Ewen “It will bring more people to the game and it will make it much more affordable to play the game and for it to mean something.”
Golfers will pay just £40 per year to sign up to England Golf’s iGolf and, as an England Golf initiative, revenue generated through the platform will be reinvested into the work being done nationally to help grow the game across all levels, support clubs and the wider golfing community as well as providing a more inclusive and accessible sport for everyone.
In addition, England Golf believe that iGolf will provide new revenue streams for golf clubs through increased demand for green fees, supplementary clubhouse and pro shop spends, as well as the chance to market to a wider audience of golfers.
“We firmly believe that iGolf provides significant opportunities for clubs and alongside our membership campaign and other resources, we will continue to support the wider golfing community,” concluded Tomlinson.
Golfers can head to englandigolf.co.uk to find out more about iGolf and the World Handicap System.