A big change is being made to grassroots golf next month, which has split opinion and begs the question as to whether it actually contradicts its true aim.
In July, golfers will be allowed to obtain a handicap without having a membership at any golf club, through a scheme formulated by England Golf that will require a £40 subscription fee.
This fee will give them access to a World Handicap System handicap index and personal liability insurance. England Golf stated that the aim of the scheme is to drive golf club membership, but I fear that this could be a counter-productive scheme.
Golf club memberships can be an extremely expensive investment and many golfers circulate different golf courses and pay green fees, in order to avoid paying hundreds of pounds to commit to one golf club.
If a golfer can test themselves against their handicap by playing at different courses, then, in my opinion, there is no need to pay hundreds of pounds to join a golf club.
For some golf courses in the United Kingdom, the application system can be very tedious and time-consuming, so I believe this scheme will provide even more reason for golfers to avoid these processes.
You could also argue that as you have spent hundreds of pounds on a golf club membership, you are tied down to one golf course. This new scheme allows golfers across the country to play multiple courses without feeling obligated to play at their home course.
Despite these considerations, the scheme could be very helpful for golfers who cannot afford a golf club membership, as it would allow them to pay one-off green fees for different courses and still test themselves against their handicaps indexes.
England Golf are admirably trying to encourage golf club membership, but it will be interesting to discover the long term success of the scheme.