Club Audits

England Golf would like to thank all clubs that were visited as part of the inaugural audit of the affiliation return. Nearly every club was highly cooperative and fully engaged in ensuring a level playing field for funding the promotion of amateur golf in England. They were conducted by England Golf staff and involved both finance staff and the club support officer to make the process a mutually beneficial process for club and also England Golf.

The audits will continue in 2018 and the basic premise is that affiliation fees are due for all golfers who enjoy extended playing rights over a suitable standard rated course apply. The need to pay extends beyond handicapping to any golfer who has playing rights over a time period although handicapping is an important benefit of the affiliation fee. Below is a list of various membership categories where there was some confusion over whether an affiliation fee is due:-

1)   Honorary members
It is irrelevant what is paid by members for club membership even if it is free. The question remains as to whether they enjoy member’s rights in an entitlement to playing rights on a suitable standard rated course. Therefore, if they are playing honorary members they need to pay affiliation fees and if they are only social honorary members they do not need to pay a fee.

2)   Discounted rates for certain groups
This may arise in the case of university or college students. If they have playing rights, even if not full member rights, then they need to pay an affiliation fee.

3)   Academy members
This category means different things at different golf clubs. Where there are no playing rights to the course and access is only to driving ranges, putting greens and coaching, then no affiliation fee is due.  The occasional playing of a few holes will not be treated as having playing rights.  However, if the academy membership allows a certain number of playing rounds per annum then an affiliation fee would be due.

4)   Age groups
At some golf clubs there are certain categorises of membership for over 80’s and even over 90’s. The payment of an affiliation fee is not age dependant but dependant on quality of playing rights. If members in these categories retain, and are reasonably active in playing the course, then an affiliation fee is payable. If it is more akin to a social membership then no affiliation fee is due, although members in these age categories may have developed a life-long affinity to either or both of the county/England Golf and therefore may wish to pay an affiliation fee to retain that.

5)   Overseas members
There is no distinction for overseas members and if they have playing rights, an affiliation fee is still required.

6)   Staff of golf clubs
Where staff are playing members of clubs, whether this has been given free or discounted or not from their employment with the club, then an affiliation fee is due. Where staff play very occasional one-off rounds and have no formal playing rights, then an affiliation fee is not due.

7)   Corporate memberships
Where individual members are named and paid for by their employer then an affiliation fee is due. Where a block of unnamed memberships is paid for then the number of affiliation fees paid should equate to the amount of memberships paid for.



Other issues raised during the audits

There was some confusion of how to deal with golfers who change clubs in year. England Golf expects only one fee per golfer per affiliation year. If the golfer can prove, by showing a receipt for affiliation payment for the relevant year to their old club then no further fee is needed for England Golf affiliation.  If the new club is within the same county as the old one then only one county affiliation fee is needed . If it is a different county then a fee to the new county is needed in addition to the one paid to the county a golfer has moved from.

There was also confusion as to who needs to be counted as an affiliated member by an affiliated club. England Golf rules state that a golfer who has a contract for playing rights over a suitably rated course needs to pay an affiliated fee. This is not limited to golfers within a members section of a proprietary club that is formed for competition purposes etc. and England Golf states that all golfers who have playing rights over a rated course irrespective of whether they use their handicaps or enter competitions need to pay a fee. This reflects the services that England Golf provide in terms of grassroots participation initiatives, course rating, club support officer support and handicapping. 


Finally:
During the audits, clubs were asked to share their safeguarding policies. It is a condition of affiliation that an adequate safeguarding policy is in place at each club. England golf can supply a suitable template to help clubs with this upon request.

To prepare for a potential audit visit all clubs are asked to retain backing documentation of the figures declared on the affiliation return including membership categories and numbers.

England Golf is pleased to report that the vast majority of clubs audited in 2017 were honest in their affiliation fee returns. This reflects the great ethos of the sport of golf and ensures that a level playing field is in place that keeps fees as low as possible in order to promote this great game of ours.

Simon Wilson
Finance Director
England Golf

 
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