NOGADuring its first one hundred years, the primary focus of the Northern Ohio Golf Association was to conduct tournaments for private club members, manage handicap services, and run local USGA qualifiers.

For most of a century, that focus made sense for the times.

But over the last decade, participation in the game, the business models of golf courses and clubs, and societal expectations have changed.

To address those changes, the Board of Directors of NOGA wisely and unanimously adopted a new Code of Regulations last summer.

Now as of January 1st, NOGA serves all golfers who utilize the NOGA/USGA GHIN Handicap Service — meaning men and women, private club members and public course players, all can join NOGA in 2019 and beyond.

So what does that mean for Greater Cleveland golfers? For NOGA tournaments? And how did past NOGA members react?

Northeast Ohio Golf sat down with NOGA Executive Director Robb Schulze to get his thoughts on the “New NOGA” and its mission to better serve all amateur golfers in the region:

 
Robb SchulzeHow and when did the conversation begin about making NOGA and its tournaments more inclusive to public golfers?

“Over the years, growing the game of golf has always been top of mind for us. NOGA has served all golfers for decades by offering USGA handicap services. We run nine USGA qualifiers and the Northeast Ohio Amateur, both of which have always been open to all golfers. Getting to the point of a fully-inclusive membership was just the next step. Everyone realized that 2019 was the right time for more inclusive golf in Northeast Ohio.”

How does NOGA’s new membership model align with other golf associations around the country?

“The truth is, by 2018, every other golf association in the United States offered memberships to all golfers. So we recognized that 2019 was the right time for NOGA to match all other USGA Associations in America by opening all tournaments to all golfers, both public and private. We adjusted our tournament schedules and expanded our communications to do that.

Clearly, NOGA is taking the right steps forward regarding inclusivity. NOGA management and its Board of Directors has worked closely with the USGA to be effective in these efforts to represent the game of golf in Northeast Ohio for everyone.”

How has this change been received from the private clubs and their golfers?

“Sure, change is never easy, especially a big change like this. However, the overwhelming response has been very positive from both our original NOGA members and our new or soon-to-be members.

Excitement is already building for the upcoming golfing season.

Full inclusivity is what’s driving the game across all golf associations in the United States. We all agree that it’s needed to drive golf forward in Northeast Ohio, too.”

What will remain the same for NOGA in 2019?

“We are constantly changing and improving, and 2019 will be no different! NOGA’s member-only tournaments will continue to be hosted by Northeast Ohio’s premiere golf facilities. The tournament experience for golfers of every skill level will continue to be first-class. And the feel of camaraderie within the Association should be better than ever.”

So then, exactly what will be different?

“As announced last week, we’ve secured some amazing new host venues for the 2019 schedule, including some of Northeast Ohio’s top-tier clubs. We’ll also have more players, which naturally will lead to a better competitive landscape with bigger prizes and payouts. We’ve continued to work to secure some new member benefits that have real value, too. The list goes on.

We’ve also secured some new clubs to join NOGA in 2019. That gives NOGA the opportunity to host tournaments at these new facilities, including places like Fairlawn and Glenmoor.”

So how exactly do public golfers join NOGA or play in its events?

“Simple. If you have an active GHIN handicap, visit NOGA.org to review the 2019 tournament calendar. From there, you may register and pay for events on our website.

If you have never had an active NOGA/GHIN handicap, then all you need to do is visit noga.org/join to find a course or club near you to sign up.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: NEOHgolf.com will introduce the NEOH.GOLF Club as a new option to join NOGA, play its tournaments and get a handicap. Official announcement soon…]

 
What does it cost, and what does a player get if he decides to join NOGA?

“Membership fees are determined by each club or facility and can vary to a certain degree based on the types of services bundled together. However, every membership will include a GHIN identification number that will allow you to register with NOGA at noga.org/register and take full-advantage of your membership benefits.

2019 NOGA Member benefits include a complimentary Golf Digest subscription; access to our member-only tournaments and play days; a personalized member bag tag; and some big, exclusive discounts on travel and tickets to local entertainment at venues like Quicken Loans Arena, PlayHouse Square and House of Blues. Plus, there are some other things we’re still working on.”

What if a player only wants a GHIN Handicap?

“A golfer is certainly entitled to utilize the NOGA membership for just a GHIN Handicap Index. However, they should take some time to explore all the benefits and services available to them through the accompanying NOGA membership. By taking advantage of just one or two of these benefits, those savings could easily cover their entire annual NOGA fee.”

How will a player sign up for tournaments?

“Every active NOGA/GHIN member will have a 7-digit identification number. They will use this number to register with NOGA and to sign up for tournaments at noga.org/tournaments.

The 2019 tournament schedule is already posted, and registration opens on April 1st.”

Final thoughts?

“The game of golf is so great because it’s the only game where players of every age, background and skill level can all participate together. We want everyone to join us on the course in 2019 to drive golf forward. We want to enhance the golf experience for all players, celebrate traditions and build the future leaders of golf.

We are excited to welcome everyone to new our member tournament experiences at new host venues like Fairlawn and Glenmoor, and we’re equally excited to engage our newest NOGA member golfers, too!

Truly, I think 2019 will prove to be a very exciting year for golf in Northeast Ohio.”

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