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Roughly three out of four golf clubs in England have received a new member over the past year as a direct result of England Golf’s pioneering iGolf scheme.

Launched 12 months ago, iGolf is a scheme that is designed to allow non-club members to obtain a handicap index administered by the World Handicap System (WHS).

So-called ‘nomadic golfers’ can subscribe to the scheme via the England Golf website for a nominal fee and start inputting scores that will count towards their WHS index. They also receive personal liability insurance, the latest news and offers from England Golf partners, and access to education on golf rules and etiquette.

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Upon its launch in July 2021, England Golf officials stated their hope that the scheme would incentivise the country’s estimated 2.3million ‘independent’ golfers to play more, track their performance and be more competitive, creating a pathway to full golf club membership in the process.

Based upon findings shared today, and despite some initial scepticism from many observers, they’ve accomplished precisely that.

To date, more than 25,000 golfers have subscribed to the platform. Of those, approximately 1,440 subscribers have since switched from iGolf to full golf club membership. 

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“This first year has been a fantastic success for the iGolf platform,” said England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson. “Hitting our ambitious target of 25,000 subscribers in 12 months is a testament to the great work the whole team has put in and confirms our belief in engaging with the independent golfer community.

“We’re really pleased to be providing an excellent service that is clearly in demand.

In a recent survey conducted with iGolfers, 57% stated they have played or intend to play more golf since subscribing, with 60% admitting they are considering joining a club in the future.

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Over three-quarters of subscribers (77%) are very likely or extremely likely to renew their iGolf subscription.

At a time when overall participation in the sport is increasing and the number of golf club members in England has grown to 737,000 – a rise of 90,000 (14%) since February 2021 – the appetite for non-members to get out on the course has been further proven by iGolfers submitting over 186,000 general play scores.

Encouragingly, 98% of iGolfers are completing 18-hole rounds, with 70% regularly using the driving range.

“The data we have gathered shows that iGolfers have been encouraged to play more golf since subscribing, which is the primary aim of the initiative, and something that we feel will have a positive impact on the entire golf community,” added Tomlinson.

“Couple this with the fact that we have already seen subscribers move into club membership, it’s clear that iGolf has had a very successful first year.”

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Looking to build upon this momentum into its second year, England Golf is set to develop the iGolf offering to provide an even better platform and encourage more golfers, to play more golf, more often.

This includes increasing the benefits available to new subscribers, additional offers and opportunities for existing iGolfers, as well as updates to the My EG app that will enhance functionality and the user experience.

Scottish golfers, meantime, can access a similar scheme. Like iGolf, OpenPlay was launched in summer 2021, allowing the 500,000 Scottish golfers who aren’t members of a golf club to obtain and maintain a handicap for the first time

• To find out more, visit the England Golf iGolf website or the Scottish Golf OpenPlay website.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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