In a letter sent to all affiliated golf clubs, England Golf has provided an update on the connectivity platform being developed for independent golfers. The full correspondence is published below:
Welcome to the first in a regular series of club updates on the development of an independent golfer connectivity platform.
When launched, this platform will offer non-members of golf clubs an official handicap index and personal liability insurance.
The initial aim is to inspire golfers to play more often and to increase the connection between an avid, independent golfer and their local club/facility.
We will create a best-in-class platform with the ultimate goal of educating independent golfers on the value of golf club membership and inspiring them to follow this pathway to greater participation.
Working Group Update
The England Golf working group on the independent golfer met on Thursday 4 February for the fourth time this year.
The group will continue to meet on a weekly basis.
There is now clear consensus among the working group that inclusivity must be at the heart of this project with the connectivity platform open to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or ability.
The platform will be designed to offer a value proposition for independent golfers different to that provided by clubs to existing members.
The working group recognises that clubs should remain in control of how and to what extent they engage with independent golfers who join the new scheme.
The group has discussed in depth a variety of naming options which have now been shortlisted for future meetings.
Other topics discussed in detail so far include focus and key messages, membership model, initial financial investment, club communications and a time lag consideration for membership which is discussed in more detail below.
Club and County Engagement
The widespread consultation process on the independent golfer platform continued today (Friday) with an online meeting of all county representatives and key England Golf staff.
During two productive sessions chaired by England Golf Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Tomlinson, voting members were informed of the progress of the working group and invited to table further questions on behalf of their respective counties and golf clubs.
Both Jeremy and Chief Operating Officer Richard Flint recently attended an online club delegate meeting organised by Devon and will take part in similar conversations arranged by Hampshire, Norfolk, Wiltshire, Yorkshire and the Midlands region in the weeks ahead.
Sharing thinking and encouraging feedback remain crucial to the development of a best-fitting platform ahead of its intended launch later this year.
A common question asked in relation to the independent golfer proposal is how it will impact existing club membership.
The working group has agreed the aim is to drive avid golfers towards golf club membership – or at the very least increase their spend on green fees, food and beverage and merchandise at local clubs where they feel a connection and develop a bond.
From analysis of similar platforms currently in use around the world, there is no evidence to suggest that significant numbers will make the journey in the opposite direction and leave a golf club to join an independent golfer scheme.
The benefits of remaining at a club which offers not only full playing rights, but also a good value proposition to members should outweigh those provided to golfers through an independent golfer platform.
The working group continue to discuss the suitability of a time lag between a member leaving a golf club and joining an independent golfer scheme.
The options being debated range from immediate entry up to a time lag period of 12 months.