Golf in the UK

Information for the golfer on golfing in the UK: the Golf Federation, the requirements to play (the handicap system, medical certificates), with information on who to contact locally...

Golf is a popular sport in the UK, with approximately 2.5 million people who play regularly and are members of a golf club. There are approximately 1,920 affiliated golf courses in England and 500 in Scotland to suit players of different abilities. Most golf clubs have practice facilities and a Club House where golfers can relax after their round.

Golf Courses in the UK

The best known golf courses in the UK are Wentworth in England, Celtic Manor in Wales, Carnoustie in Scotland and of course, the home of golf, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews which is also in Scotland.

There are different types of golf clubs:

  • Proprietary Clubs: owned by a private individual or a company where generally members and non-members are welcome
  • Municipal Clubs: generally owned by the local council and opened to the general public
  • Pay and Play courses: suitable for the occasional golfer
  • Private Members: members are owners of shares within the golf club and a joining fee is generally required on entry. An introduction from an existing member is also required which will need to be approved by the committee

Golf ranges are very popular and are not always attached to a golf club; they are ideal places to practise or have lessons with the resident Golf Professional.

Those interested in taking up golf can attend free trial sessions which are held by many golf clubs.

Most clubs are run by a committee headed by a President, a Secretary, a Club Captain (men) and a Lady Captain (ladies). The committee is responsible for the smooth running of the club and it organises competitions, social events and matches against other clubs. Collectively, they are responsible for ensuring that etiquette and rules are observed. Each club has at least one resident Golf Professional, responsible for coaching players.

Finding a local golf course

Each club site gives a description of the course, green fees, facilities, joining possibilities and also provides relevant information on the standard scratch of the course (level of difficulty).

Handicap System in the UK

Amateur golfers have a handicap; the better they play, the lower it is. The handicap system used in the UK and Ireland is the CONGU Unified Handicapping System.

Handicaps are governed by the European Golf Union (EGU) which administers the Unified Handicapping System (UHS) on behalf of the Council of National Golf Unions. A person must be a member of a Club or affiliated organisation authorised to administer the UHS in order to obtain a CONGU handicap. To obtain a handicap under UHS rules, a player must present three score cards signed by an approved member of the club to the committee. The maximum handicap allowed under the System is 36 for ladies and 28 for men.

  • For further information on the CONGU Unified Handicapping System: Click here

Golf Rules

Golf rules are those of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Etiquette and Dress Code

Etiquette is to respect the course for the enjoyment of all players, repair pitch marks, replace divots, avoid slow play and observe golf rules. Dress code varies from club to club and players should contact the golf club reception for details.

Golf Insurance

A medical certificate is generally not required to play golf.

UK residents are often covered on the golf course by their home content insurance, but visitors to the UK must ensure that their holiday insurance covers accidents on the golf course.

Golf Associations

The English Golf Union (EGU) is the governing body for male amateur golf in the UK.

The Ladies' Golf Union is the governing body for amateur ladies golf in Great Britain and Ireland.

The English Women's Golf Association (EGWA) aims to increase interest in women's golf in England.

  • EGWA
    : 11 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3EB
    Tel: 0121 456 2088

The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) is a members organisation for professional golfers.

  • PGA
    : Centenary House, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B76 9PT
    Tel: 01675 470 333
    Fax: 01675 477 888

Further Information