The handicap system.
Much maligned but it’s the best we’ve got and, until someone figures out something better, the fairest way of ensuring we’re all getting to the finish line at the same time.
There are always going to be those who seek to undermine it. There are also those who improve faster than the figures can keep up with.
And winter golf has always proved a problem for our beloved ability ratings.
Whether you’ve suddenly found something on the range, you’re a junior who’s on a growth spurt or you have just put in some serious graft in the snow and ice, it’s almost taken as read among wizened, and weary, club members that April will be your time to shine.
Club committees can enforce general play reductions.
But when all we’re playing is non-qualifiers home and away, my general experience is that there’s little desire to suddenly hand out dramatic cuts for displays on a course that isn’t measured and will play far differently in the summer months.
This may have passed you by, but on January 1, 2017, England Golf brought in new scoring regulations.
Golfers are now required “to return all scores in competitive golf away from the player’s home clubs, to assist handicap committees with handicap reviews”.
So whether you are taking part in an individual, an am-am or fourball betterball, if you are teeing it up for a prize, you will now have to return your score in a non-qualifier.
The governing body have made the decision “in order to promote the integrity of the system, and maintain player confidence in handicapping”.
While scores can’t directly affect a handicap, they can be used as “supporting evidence of performance” in any review.
Clubs have also been asked to be aware of regular roll-ups and to monitor how players get on in those.
I’m interested in what you all think about this.
I’m in two minds. While anything that maintains a level playing field must be welcomed, it also begs the question: why not just have qualifiers all year round?