Why do low handicappers think it is a crime for higher handicappers to beat them?
The handicap club knockout, a version of which takes place at every club up and down the country, typically attracts the biggest entry of the season – from the scratch champion to the newly handicapped junior.
I always thought the concept was both obvious and apparent: a matchplay event that aims to give each and every participant an equal chance of success.
So why is it that the lower handicapper considers it an outrage to lose to an opponent on the receiving end of shots?
This isn’t the FA Cup.
It isn’t humiliating to lose to someone worse than you at the game – because they are being compensated for the discrepancy in ability levels.
The football equivalent would be Barnet drawing Man City and getting an eight-goal start.
If I am going to get beaten at matchplay I would much rather the root cause was good play from my opponent rather than my own shortcomings.
And that’s the same whether I’m receiving six shots or giving two a hole.
I can’t remember the last time I walked off the course after a loss and attributed it entirely due to the amazing play of a higher handicapper.
I can vividly recall, a decade on, being outclassed by a pro (who was giving me shots) and feeling powerless to respond to the barrage of birdies coming in my direction.
For the best chance of progressing to the next round, give me the 54-handicapper any day over the club champion.
Golfers have high handicaps for a reason. (Unless they are cheating, but then you can be a bandit off any handicap. You don’t need to play off 28 or 36 or even 54).
I don’t know about you, but if I’m giving shots I feel like the game is mine to lose. If the game is tight then I would back my superior skills at a key moment down the stretch.
It’s all very well receiving a shot on the 17th but it’s soon gone – and more – with a wild tee shot or bladed wedge. If we both have four-footers on the 16th green then there’s more chance of me holing and them missing.
The opposite is true if I’m receiving shots.
In our club’s betterball knockout last summer, my scratch-handicap partner and I took on an in-form pair off 7 and 10. They played brilliantly and were under par gross when my putt to take the match up the 19th lipped out.
We played well too and it was a great game. But for all the gross birdies and nett eagles they threw at us, my partner and I knew that it was our failure to make a routine par between us on one single hole that cost us the match.
Not their brilliance – our shortcomings.
Apparently, the new upper handicap limit of 54 is going to result in the poor old single-figure handicapper being unable to compete this year.
Poppycock. He’ll still win more than his fair share.
If you want to play with the big boys then work on your skills and enter scratch competitions.
In handicap golf, the whole point is that every dog has his day.