Following a landmark agreement reached by both the English Golf Union (EGU) and the English Ladies’ Golf Association (ELGA) a National Computerised Handicapping Scheme is to be introduced to English amateur golf. This will result in English amateur golfers, their Affiliated Clubs, County Unions and the National Governing Bodies being united by an electronic handicapping infrastructure.
There are currently 720,000 male golfers, who through their membership of affiliated golf clubs are members of the EGU and 135,000 lady golfers who similarly are members of ELGA. The EGU is responsible for providing its members with officially recognised handicaps and ELGA administers the ladies’ handicap system on behalf of the Ladies Golf Union. The EGU and ELGA administer their handicaps in differing ways and the National Computerised Handicapping System will accommodate and conform to both of their requirements and integrate with existing generic handicapping software.
The initiative will be operated using an electronic smart card. The card will be provided free of charge to the members of golf clubs affiliated to the EGU and ELGA as they join the new electronically linked national system. The card will enable access to full details of a player’s club membership and handicap in a format that any club linked to the system can verify. The equipment to do this also being provided free of charge to each club.
Handicapping data will continue to be held and maintained by the member’s home club and simultaneously on a national server under the control of the National bodies. This will be achieved via an electronic highway. An advantage of the system is that members’ handicaps will be updated, even when they are playing away from their home club.
To undertake this and introduce a wide range of benefits to clubs, individual members and County Unions a new company English Golf Limited (EGL ) has been formed and will shortly become a Plc. The consortium behind the company is led by Property Golf and Finance Group Limited and includes EGU, ELGA, British Telecom, Syntegra, Capital One and Close Brothers.
The system will provide Internet e-mail and web site access to all parties involved and provide the opportunity for improved communication throughout the game. An early roll-out of value added services to both clubs and members is set to commence in the autumn with implementation on a national level in early 2001.
Announcing this development Mr Paul Baxter, Secretary of the English Golf Union said, “Although we are only in the preliminary stage of finalising this agreement, I believe it is accurate to state that it is perhaps the most important development ever for English amateur golf. By combining the inherent strength of nearly one million enthusiastic amateur golfers who are official handicap holding members of golf clubs, we are able to create an organisation and structure that will enhance the sport from every aspect and provide tangible benefits to golf clubs and their members.”
Mrs Marian Carr, Secretary of the English Ladies Golf Association said, “Even at this moment in the development of a very comprehensive project, it is evident to ELGA that our members and their clubs stand to benefit. This will not be just from the introduction of a National Computerised Handicapping Scheme, but also from the ancillary advantages made possible by the introduction of advanced technology.”
The EGU and ELGA will shortly be communicating to their Member County Unions and Associations and all affiliated clubs outlining details of the proposals contained within the agreement. In view of the momentous nature of these developments for amateur golf and until further contractual negotiations are concluded no further press announcements or comments will be forthcoming.