What difference will the World Handicap System really make? The devil will be in the details

The Scoop

In his regular From The Clubhouse column, Steve Carroll writes that we need to know more before we can really judge the impact of the new handicap arrangements

The main point that arose out of the announcement of the upcoming World Handicap System was not what was revealed – but what wasn’t.

“There is no real need for golfers to worry about the technical details of the new system,” the R&A’s website soothed when setting out some of the highlights.

Let me say from the start that if everything I’ve read so far comes to fruition, I’m generally in favour of the proposals.

I realise some people have concerns about slope and how it will be implemented but, at the most basic level, I like the idea of my handicap changing depending on which course, and from which tees, I am playing.

Clearly a round at my home course of Sandburn Hall, and one at Carnoustie, are entirely different challenges in terms of difficulty.

I like the idea of knowing that while I might play off 11 in a home competition, I could start with, say, 17 at an Open venue.

I know SSS and CSS deal with this but I still play the round with 11 shots.

Psychologically, the idea of having 17 – or however many – on a difficult course is appealing.

At the moment, though, with only the outline principles revealed, it’s hard to get a firm grip on what the new scheme will mean for our day-to-day golf.

I’m sure many of us are itching to see how slope will be worked out and what that means for our marks.

We’re keen to know what formats of the game will count for handicap purposes and how using recreational rounds will affect the proposed system.

Golfers are sponges for detail. We love to rummage through stats – whether that’s GIR or how our handicap is produced.

I know the upcoming workshops, put on by England Golf, will start to put some flesh on the bones.

But the R&A shouldn’t assume golfers aren’t interested in the technical aspects. We are. So to pat us on the head and say ‘no need to worry’ feels a little patronising.

Out and about

world handicap system

The ball was perched on a mossy spot of grass inside a water hazard. I was stretching over the ditch with a 23-degree hybrid in hand and 280 yards to go on the par 5 penultimate hole at Sandburn Hall.

I’d been lucky not to find the liquid but there was no way I was chipping sideways now.

Not with the weekly roll-up prize seemingly on the line. So I swung with all my might, watched the ball soar high into the air, curve round a large oak tree, and land in the fairway 80 yards away from the green.

In more than three decades of playing this most wonderful, and frustrating. game it was simply the best shot I’ve ever played.

Even better than the hole-in-one I managed to record at Woodhall Spa.

So it got me to thinking: what’s the best shot you’ve ever played? Send me your stories and, if you’ve got pictures, all the better. We will feature the best of them in a future From the Clubhouse column. Reach me via email or tweet me at @SteveCarrollNCG.

My month in golf

world handicap system

Will this winter ever end? The start of the new season is approaching rapidly but the weather – and particularly the seemingly ever-persistent rain – is putting a huge dent in my preparations.

I’ve spent more time in a driving range then I care to think about, but none of it can beat getting out on a course to properly get you into the groove.

With a custom fitting experiment about to start in earnest, I feel a bit undercooked. Oh, for a bit of sun…

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