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golf handicap rules

You NR merchants are cowards – just post your scores

News that repeated scorecard offenders will be punished under the new handicap rules drew some interesting comments online. Well done if you were looking to get under the Angry Club Golfer's skin
 

Aren’t you the same lot banging on every week about unrepaired pitchmarks? Moaning you haven’t got a perfect lie in a bunker, and screaming blue murder because your group can’t get round in under four hours? Explain to me how no returns are different. I’d like to learn. Every week I read about how the game’s gone to pot and etiquette isn’t like it was back in the ‘good old days’.

So I’d have thought that really getting to grips with one of the perennial club problems, the players who repeatedly throw their cards away and sod off after a bad hole, would have been in all your wheelhouses.

No. A few of you want to have your cake and eat it. Carving three OB apparently means you can slope off any time you like.

Now before you all start storming my house with your burning torches and pitchforks, let me say there are occasions when it’s excusable to enter a competition and not post a score for handicap.

Illness, injury, an emergency – all are valid and just reasons. It is a game, after all.

At a push, I’ll even accept the one where it’s packed, you’ve lost your ball, you’re having a stinker and going back under stroke and distance would hold the whole course up.

Part of me thinks ‘just hit a provisional’ but, yes, the combination of poor play and delay of game is enough to set off a powder keg when temperatures are frayed and the course is running at a crawl.

But doing it because you don’t think you can win the competition any more, or because it’s a sneaky way of protecting your handicap? That’s just poor form.

I’ve been in the position where I couldn’t carry on a round, because a partner’s temper went and he bolted after 9.

I stood there on the 10th, with a decent card, and couldn’t continue because my marker was already half way down the drive in his car.

Am I perfect? No. I last no returned when genuinely fearing for my safety during a lightning storm and I’m still embarrassed about the time I metaphorically ‘picked up’ when the prospect of making a long walk back during a medal proved one stroke too far.

I’d like to think I’ve learned from my mistakes and, like a born again Christian, I’m here to evangelise.

No return – the act of ‘when a card is not returned in a competition’ say CONGU for those who claimed ‘there’s no such thing’ – is surely against the spirit of the game.

So you can’t win a fiver this week. Get a grip, battle on, and enjoy the rest of your day. Remember you can still make a two.

If you enjoy the Angry Club Golfer’s work, you can follow him on Twitter.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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