Forget your own little handicapping issues and see the bigger picture for once

The Scoop

The new Worldwide Handicap System is a step in the right direction because it simplifies the game’s bureaucracy, writes Tom Irwin

“Can we not go back to the way it was, when handicaps could change by three shots at a time at the discretion of the committee?”

This was my personal highlight of the misinformed, idealised view of a past that never existed that blighted the announcement of Worldwide Handicap System.

While we are at it, why don’t we go completely back in time and bring back groping, get rid of the decimal pound and have jam with lashings of cream for tea. Hell, why don’t we even leave Eur… Oh.

You might be in the camp of people who is absolutely delighted that you are going to wake up in 2020 with a handicap two shots lower than it is now. Actual overnight improvement – what’s not to like about that. Never mind a quick fix, this is instantaneous.

You might be in my camp of genuine relief at the removal of the agony of a .1 increase.

Or you might be in the seeming majority who think the new system is a ‘catastrophe for golf’ (another Twitter belter), open to abuse and will see the death of the game’s integrity as our courses are populated by barely human 54 handicappers taking eight hours to get round nine holes.

The fact of the matter is that none of the above is important.

The reason worldwide handicapping is good is because it is progress. It is moving the game forward. It is the USGA, the R&A and the national governing bodies they support working together. That is the point you are missing.

The same alt-right who scream ‘stupid idea’ are also often first to scream ‘the game must change’ but if things are going to change then, unfortunately, they have to, well, change

While we all sit around and moan about them, the game’s governing bodies have been doing quite a lot of good stuff in recent years. The IGF forced everyone to work together to get golf into the Olympics and, crucially, the PGA Tour finally supported the bid. The LGU has merged with the R&A. The home unions have merged their men’s and women’s administration. The R&A and USGA are currently collaborating on a simplification of the rules. And surely the LET will become unified with the European Tour in the near future.

One of the reasons we don’t see the changes, the growth in the game and the modernisation we require is that the governance of the game is not fit for purpose.

It is too fragmented; too mired in a fear of upsetting someone else or, worse still, some political, land-grabbing protectionism.

In this country alone, any of the following would want a say in something changing – club members, the club’s committee or owner, the county union, England Golf, the GCMA or GCOA, the PGA, BIGGA, the Golf Foundation, the BGIA The R&A. I could probably go on. We have got an awful lot of chiefs.

Like our clubs themselves we are an industry run by committee and that only leads to stagnation or argument.

So when we get these lines in the sand, when there is a change that is bringing us together as sport, let’s not get bogged down in the whys, and the wherefores and the what-have-yous.

Our role as the Indians in this world of a thousand chiefs, is not to throw arrows. We should celebrate the fact that the picture is a bit clearer, that we have made things simpler and that we are moving forward.

Your handicap is only a number after all.

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