Editor Emma Ballard and four friends sign up to iGolf. Follow their journey towards achieving official Handicap Indexes.

Golf has always been a part of my life, growing up with a golf obsessed (obsessed to find a perfect swing) Dad and a Mum who played a bit, I was bound to take up the game.

From taking swings in the garden, to starting lessons when I was a 10-year-old, golf was part of our family’s agenda most weekends, whether that be watching or playing.

Emma Ballard golf
Playing golf in the garden

I’ve never played golf to a high standard and once I started lessons, I persisted for a couple of years but as the only girl in the group, I began to lose interest. I also played tennis at the time and enjoyed that more, so turned my attention to improving my smash rather than my splash out of bunkers.

As a junior, I was a member of a golf club and would dip in and out throughout my teenage years, much to my Dad’s frustration, as he said I had a very natural swing. I loved being out on the golf course and playing casual rounds with my family. I was only ever competing against myself, I never felt too much pressure and to this day it’s my favourite type of golf to play.

Handicaps, low rounds and beating my previous score have never been part of my golfing ambitions. I competed at a range of other sports, but never golf. I much preferred watching my favourite golfers, such as Sir Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Darren Clarke compete than actually put myself through it.

Emma Ballard golf
Carrying a scoreboard at the 1999 Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth

A passion for golf

Saying all this, golf was and is a passion of mine, just not in the winning trophies sense. University cemented my desire to work in golf and 16 years later I’m still here and feel very privileged to work in the industry.

So, now that I have set the scene, my confession may not be too much of a surprise. I don’t have a handicap and never have had one. It’s like a therapy meeting, “Hi, my name’s Emma, Editor of a women’s golf publication and I don’t have a handicap.”

Over the years I have been asked, in fact it seems to be a go-to question, ‘what my handicap is’ and I just casually gloss over it and say ‘it’s not official’, but ‘around 28’.

Getting back into golf

After playing sporadically through my teens, it became non-existent when my two children were small. That was until six years ago when I convinced a group of Mums at school to join me at Bromsgrove Golf Centre Golf Academy for a Get into Golf series of lessons.  We have continued to have lessons there weekly with Head PGA Professional, Rob Laing, (when we can make it) from 8-9pm on a Monday night.

People have come and gone over the years, but we still have a core group of six in our session who try and come most weeks. The interesting thing about this group is that all bar one, don’t have official golf handicaps. I can tell you that every January, we’ve set ourselves a goal of getting one, but never got round to doing so.

I am sure that we have often played enough rounds and we like to play nine holes, but to get one we have always had the issue that we like to play together. So, unless our friend Kelly plays (the only player with a handicap), or our coach Rob is with us, then we didn’t have someone to verify our scores for handicapping purposes.

Also, apart from Kelly, we’re all of the mindset that social golf is much more up our street rather than competing – unless it’s a fun Texas scramble for a bottle of wine or chocolates.

That’s why I was really intrigued with the launch of iGolf by England Golf. Was this the solution that us handicap-less, non-club member golfers needed?

What is iGolf?

iGolf is for non-club member golfers who do not hold a handicap, but wish to start the journey towards getting one, or even inspiring themselves to play more golf and eventual move into full term club membership. It is a subscription service for £40 per year which in return gives the golfer access to obtain the only official Handicap Index under the World Handicap System (WHS), just like a club member would have.

It sounded perfect to me and with that in mind I put this to my four non-club member friends and they agreed that we should trial it and see whether it’s the final push that we need to actually get the handicaps that we have been talking about for the last five years.

We’ll be signing up, via the iGolf website, downloading the My EG app and getting out for our nine-hole rounds to start this journey towards obtaining our first official Handicap Indexes. With the help of my friends Anna, Debbie, Lucy and Tamsin, I’ll be writing a blog post every week to keep you updated on our progress.

Can we get a handicap in five weeks? Watch this space.