Data compliance clarification sought over new handicapping system

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 4, 2020 18:10

A data compliance issue in England has emerged ahead of the launch of the World Handicap System (WHS) in November.

Under the forthcoming handicapping system, a central England Golf computerised platform will calculate a golfer’s handicap, as opposed to an independent software vendor (ISV), which currently does this. The ISVs will still collect the scores, but they will be passed to England Golf.

Under this data transfer process, the ISVs will be obliged to pass information such as email addresses and dates of birth of members of golf clubs to England Golf.

However, a member of the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) has said that its new chairman, Brad McLean, has been told by legal organisation, the National Golf Clubs’ Advisory Association, that it will be illegal for any ISV to pass on any individual’s data to England Golf without each person’s permission.

The GCMA member said McLean has written to England Golf to ask for clarification.

The head of one ISV said: “This is the biggest story in golf at the moment.

“ISVs are the designated ‘data processors’ under GDPR, meaning they are merely providing a storage service, and don’t own or have any rights over the data they store.

“Clubs are the ‘data controllers’ and are legally responsible for obtaining permission from the individual they hold data on, if they wish to pass it on.

“Club managers are up in arms that their members’ data could be ‘mined’ in this way.”

He added there are similar plans in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Tomlinson, England Golf’s CEO, has written to English golf clubs to address this issue.

He said: “We have received many queries from clubs in recent weeks relating to handicap and competition software that is provided by ISVs and specifically what changes, if any, will happen when the WHS is launched,” he wrote.

“ISVs (existing and new entrants) will be able to continue to work with golf clubs to provide handicap and competition products and services as they currently do under the existing CONGU handicap system. This will include the ability to display a member’s WHS index and playing record through the ISV software. The only real change under WHS is that the central WHS platform will now calculate a player’s handicap, as opposed to the ISV software doing this. Scores will be inputted through the ISV software, which will then link to the central WHS platform.

“Golf clubs and golfers will have direct access to the central WHS platform to be able to view their latest handicap information through the England Golf website and England Golf app (to be launched in November and provided FOC to all affiliated golf club members).

“As we work closely with the ISVs in readiness for the November launch, we encourage you to speak with your ISV provider through August and September to fully understand the situation around WHS.

“As part of the licence agreement with ISVs, there will be an initial data transfer to the central WHS platform that will include first name, surname, gender, date of birth, email address, home club and membership category. This information, which will be fully compliant with GDPR, is required to ensure player identification, protect the integrity of the handicap system and to allow communication with members on handicap matters only.

“Ongoing data compliance includes all licensed ISVs displaying a privacy notice to affiliated members to inform them that they will automatically have access to the central WHS platform.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 4, 2020 18:10
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  1. djm August 7, 21:47

    It should concern everyone that their personal information is being transferred to unaccountable 3rd parties.

    Reply to this comment
  2. RPM August 6, 08:04

    The real questions is why do England Golf want/need that data to run a handicapping system?

    Reply to this comment
  3. Sue August 1, 13:00

    This is an interesting one. Surely all golfers with handicaps processed by an ISV will need to give permission to the WHS to allow them to hold data on them. The problem arises if a club member refuses such permission. What happens to their handicap? Will they be refused entry to competitions?
    Can the ICO provide guidance?
    #gdpr #golf #worldhandicappingsystem

    Reply to this comment
  4. Glenn H August 1, 08:19

    Not entirely a showstopper. The DPA/GDPR requirements are fairly easy to meet and ultimately, Dara Subjects can exercise their rights should they not be satisfied with the technical and organisational measures put in place.

    WHS is happening, we as golfers just need to work with the national bodies to make the transfer as painless as possible.

    Reply to this comment
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