“A year like no other” – England Golf reflects on challenges and achievements in 2020

England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson has today highlighted the volume and variety of work carried out by the amateur game’s governing body during a year in which golf grew in prominence and popularity despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic.

From work at grassroots level, through club support and handicapping to the elite amateurs at the top of the sport, 2020 will end with the game in England buoyed by a new-found energy and growing optimism for future development.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic presented threats to the amateur game of golf the likes of which have not been faced since the Second World War.

Yet during this turbulent year, England Golf was still able to serve the interests and needs of golfers, clubs and counties through its wide-ranging work at all levels of the game.

You can enjoy a video review of 2020 below:

Highlights of 2020 include:

  • Lobbying government successfully for golf’s safe return after lockdown
  • Distributing £2.55 million to 328 clubs from the original Covid-19 Support Fund
  • Adding an extra £500,000 from England Golf funds to support more clubs
  • Launching the new World Handicap System in November to over 630,000 golf club members at 1,800 golf clubs
  • Creating and rolling out the ‘Membership: Give it a shot’ campaign for affiliated clubs
  • Staging seven Covid-secure events for men, women, seniors and juniors including the first-ever joint English Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championship
  • Coaching men’s and women’s performance players to tournament successes in Australia, Spain and Portugal as well as on home soil
  • Activating The R&A’s #ForeEveryone Women in Golf Charter programme and highlighting the female game through our #WhyIGolf campaign
  • Achieving gender parity for the first time on the 12-strong England Golf Board
  • Contributing 18 players from the England Golf player pathway to GB&I squads for the 2021 Walker Cup, Curtis Cup and Vagliano Trophy

Reflecting on 2020 and looking ahead to the new year, Tomlinson said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone who has shared in our efforts to make the most of an extremely tough and challenging year.

“I’m immensely proud of the work that has gone on to provide support, guidance, coaching and leadership for our community of golfers, clubs and counties in 2020.

“This has been a year like no other for our game with many financial challenges faced.

“Of course, we have experienced some pain along the way, and we are not complacent to think we are out of the woods just yet.

“However, golf has shone this year like never before.

“The resilience of our clubs and the tidal wave of popular support that hit our game on golf’s return in May was fantastic to witness.

“This brought it home to everyone just how important golf is not only for sporting reasons, but for a sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

“It is a feelgood factor we must sustain into 2021 and beyond.

“Despite the troubles faced in 2020, the highlights were plentiful.

“We were brave in sticking to our guns to stage world-class championships at a time when it would have been easier to cancel.

“The spectacle created by the joint staging of the Amateur Championships at the wonderful setting of Woodhall Spa in July vindicated this decision.

“We stood up for our clubs and backed them with funds, lobbied government and championed the game.

“We continued to push for equality and diversity to make sure golf is a sport for everyone through our new membership campaign and by commissioning fresh research into Black, Asian and minority communities to positively influence our future strategies and actions.

“And then there was the monumental task of introducing the World Handicap System – the most significant change to handicapping in this country for over a century.

“I truly believe we will all enjoy the benefits of the new WHS as we settle into the new process over the coming months.

“Looking forward to 2021, we will keep our affiliation fees at £9.50 a year.

“At just 80p a month, this fee supports handicapping, personal liability insurance and many other benefits/services that we hope deliver great value to our members.

“Following on from a decision at our General Meeting this month, we will also look to bring independent golfers closer to our clubs through a connectivity platform in 2021.

“The game must keep modernising and evolving.

“For all their efforts this year, I’d like to pay tribute to my own team as well as the greenkeepers, professionals, clubhouse staff, general managers and army of volunteers at clubs up and down the country who have worked tirelessly for the good of the sport.

“That’s what helps make golf the greatest game in the world – and why I believe that no matter what 2021 throws at us, we will be able to withstand it by continuing to work together with a passion and energy to drive the game forward.”

Photography: Leaderboard