The English Golf Union (EGU) has decided to discontinue its Associate Membership Programme after 11 years of operation.

The Associate Membership Programme (AMP) was established when many clubs had long membership waiting lists and in many cases a recognised handicap was a pre-requisite to be able to join. The AMP, although not providing a CONGU handicap, did manage an alternative handicap system that was closely administered by EGU staff.

Since 1997 the number of golf clubs affiliated to the EGU has risen a by 167 clubs to over 1,950 and, according to the last research undertaken by the EGU, over 85% of its clubs have membership vacancies.

With club membership being more readily available and many facilities offering incentives to join as well as innovative “entry levels” of membership, the overarching purpose of the AMP to make the path to golf club membership easier and provide access to play courses throughout England by providing a recognised handicap, all be it not a CONGU handicap, has diminished.

This has also been reflected in the decreasing number of people joining the AMP in recent years.

John Petrie, EGU Chief Executive commented, “We are really proud of the part the AMP has played in both delivering new members to our clubs and keeping people playing the game when their lifestyles meant that club membership was not appropriate for them.”

“However the game has changed dramatically in the past decade and clubs can now be far more flexible when setting their membership criteria and when allowing visiting golfers to play. The resources that were dedicated to the AMP will now be redirected into other development activities and support for clubs across England.”

The members of the AMP have all been advised on the future plans. The programme will continue to manage existing members’ handicap calculations and provide general membership support until end of May 2009.