Ever wonder how annual handicap reviews are calculated? The secret's out

The Scoop

The number after your name is not just a mark of your ability. So when doing the annual handicap review you need to show a bit of tact, writes Steve Carroll in his From the Clubhouse column

You need to have a thick skin when you are dealing with the handicaps of club golfers.

A digit this way or that can send the most mild mannered of members into fits of hysterics.

Unfortunately, I’m something of a sensitive soul when it comes to getting grief – I hate upsetting people.

So it was with a mixture of intrigue and terror that I’ve somehow managed to find my way onto our club’s newly formed handicap committee.

Our first pressing task was the annual handicap review, which was made more complicated than usual by two rather large icebergs waiting to sink our veritable Titanic.

If the spectre of 54 handicaps, and who we might increase from 28.0 upwards, wasn’t enough to start the hands trembling then our new SSS – rising from 72 to 74 as a result of a recent USGA course rating – threatened to throw another spanner into the works.

If you’ve ever benefitted from some pre-season inflation, or had your handicap hacked down like a city council’s budget and wondered how it was done, let me put you in the picture.

annual handicap review

Don’t blame us. It’s the handicap software wot done it.

It really is a sight to see – reams of pages of data detailing every score, each time you either broke – or failed to meet – your handicap and by how much.

Exceptional players and their body of work is laid bare as is the despair of those who have not been near their mark all season.

It was all we could do not to spend the whole evening rooting through our own figures.

And so, far from being the victim of a vindictive handicap secretary, if your playing number for next year has been given the chop save your ire for the real culprit instead – technology.

In all seriousness, there wasn’t really that much to do.

Barely a dozen players merited enough interest to come under our gaze and, in many cases, the status quo was maintained.

Unexciting, but then reality often is.

annual handicap review

My month in golf

I’ve very rarely wanted to be off a golf course, but being stuck in a blizzard during the March Stableford at Sandburn Hall had me running for the sanctuary of the clubhouse.

That’s summed up yet another month dominated by wintry weather, But, when it wasn’t snowing, I got a chance to enjoy the walk round a course that won’t be with us for much longer.

Royal Norwich are moving to a new site, but you can find out how I got on at their current James Braid layout next month.

Out and about

annual handicap review

I asked you for memories of your best shot last month and many of you have regaled me with tales of one-hit glory.

For Philip Gee, it wasn’t just a single moment, but several that came to mind and the single figure handicapper’s email contained more than enough detail to fill several columns.

But from the many presents he offered, here was my favourite and, as he himself admits, it was as much for the result as the shot itself…

“Thirty-yard lob wedge, Whittlebury Park, blue 7, September 2004, handicap 5, 175-yard par 3, hit front slope, rolled back into a ditch three inches wide. Dropped back and holed it to save par.

“Nothing overly special, but that was part of a one-under 35, which became paired with a one-under 35 on the red nine for my one and only ever sub par gross – even if it was off yellow pegs.

“The shot was fine, but I had every confidence, I’ve pitched in before on other holes, but this was the one stroke I remember from the 70, so it that respect it is special, rather than the best shot.”

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