Golf In 2021 – Key Moments At Grassroots Level

Golf In 2021 - Key Moments At Grassroots Level - We run through some of the year's major talking points for amateur golfers

Golf In 2021
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The pandemic has had an impact on almost every aspect of life but not all its effects have been negative.

Related: Golf in 2021 - A Review Of The Year
Related: Golf In 2021 - Key Moments In The Pro Game

Golf has enjoyed something of a surge in popularity over the last (almost) two years with many players returning to the game and many others taking it up for the first time. Those who look after the administration and organisation of our sport have capitalised on the opportunity provided by this uptake.

Schemes by the golfing unions, the R&A and USGA to encourage more to play and become involved in golf have been successful, while other ventures, such as the rollout of the World Handicap System, have shown golf is moving forward, becoming more inclusive and easier to be involved in. Here we consider some of the key moments at a grassroots level through 2021.

Golf in 2021


(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Golf Participation figures are up significantly since pre pandemic. As people recognise the social, physical and mental benefits of playing the game, they are returning to the fairways, or taking to them for the first time in significant numbers. Figures from the R&A revealed that more than 5.7 million in the UK and Ireland played golf in some format in 2020, up from 2.3 million in 2019.

England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson

Jeremy Tomlinson

(Image credit: England Golf)

Jeremy Tomlinson, CEO of England Golf, talked to Golf Monthly about the increased value of “playing rights” through and following the pandemic.

Golf in 2021

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

2021 was first full year of the World Handicap System (WHS) in this country. Clubs and players had to come to terms with how the system functions and operates and there were inevitably teething issues. One of the problems with WHS in its first year was the lack of people putting in general play scores.

At the end of the year England Golf announced they will be enforcing penalties for players who don't put in general play scores in time. In addition, Golf Clubs may have to consider changing competition formats to reward consistency as well as feats of one-off scoring. The WHS was very much one of the 10 key things grassroots golfers were talking about in 2021.

Golf In 2021

Putting with the flag in

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

As the vaccine was rolled out there were easing of Covid restrictions, but we wondered if some should stay, leaving the flag in for good to aid pace of play for instance. We also asked the question of how could golf change for the better post lockdown?

In other moves to encourage golf across the county, England Golf and Scottish Golf launched their iGolf and Open Play schemes. The iGolf initiative will give the estimated 2.3 million independent golfers across England the chance to obtain an official handicap. The overriding aim of iGolf is to grow the game and to increase participation in golf across the country.

Elsewhere in grassroots coverage through the year, we considered the retirement benefits of golf and the changing role of the PGA professional

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?