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Attention Scottish golfers!

Want to get a handicap without joining a golf club? Now you can.  

Scottish Golf, the national governing body for the grassroots game in Scotland, has today launched a new online scheme designed to allow people who aren’t members of a golf club to obtain and maintain a handicap for the first time. 

In what is being called “one of the biggest changes to the sport in a generation”, the new scheme, called “OpenPlay”, will allow golfers throughout Scotland in order to maintain a handicap without being a member of a golf club.

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Scottish Golf says the scheme will open up handicaps to an estimated 500,000 golfers in Scotland who do not currently hold a golf club membership.  

OpenPlay’s introduction follows on from the integration of the World Handicap System which came into effect in November 2020. 

Upon registering for a handicap through OpenPlay, so-called ‘nomadic golfers’ will be able to play against other players on a level playing footing, in both bounce and competitive play.  

It can be accessed through the Scottish Golf App for £5.99 per month through a flexible subscription with no long-term commitment. 

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Golfers will be required to register scores from 54 holes of golf, which can be made up from any combination of 18 and nine-hole rounds, before receiving their OpenPlay handicap. 

Scottish Golf says it is the first governing body in Great Britain & Ireland to introduce the scheme, with England and Wales “expected to follow suit”. 

Karin Sharp, the COO of Scottish Golf, remarked: “The way people consume golf has changed a great deal in recent years, as golfers look for a more flexible approach to the sport that suits their lifestyle and fits around their other commitments. 

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For many modern golfers, the traditional club membership offering doesn’t suit their lifestyle or simply doesn’t represent value for money. OpenPlay provides a modern, flexible approach for golfers that will make the sport more accessible and inclusive.” 

In a release on the Scottish Golf website, the governing body says a similar initiative was launched in New Zealand in 2018, where it is reckoned that 20% of those who joined the independent golfer scheme subsequently went on to become members of a club.

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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