Madeleine Winnett discusses the Congu survey

Golf News

Will the Congu survey have a happy ending - just like The Waltons?

My intended theme for this month’s column was going to be on The Waltons, but after the Congu survey, I have been forced to diversify a little. However, I can’t resist giving at least a mention to the inhabitants of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I used to love the weekly instalments of the life and struggles of the wholesome, all-American family. I loved the togetherness of all the generations. I loved the happy endings.

And above all, I loved John-Boy.

So, imagine my joy when I discovered, purely through boredom of flicking through endless channels of nothing to watch on TV, I came across channel 61and an episode of The Waltons.

Despite the intervening years, I am delighted to report that the same warm glow which I felt after each episode is still there – although strangely I don’t feel quite the same attraction towards John- Boy as I once did, which is my only tinge of disappointment from my delight at rediscovering a former treasure.

I only hope I will be able to glean the same sense of delight at rediscovering my joy from golf after the recent Congu survey. As there is an inevitable time lag between when the survey was to be completed, and this appearing in print, I wasn’t actually intending to say anything about it. However, people have been writing into Lady Golfer to ask if I will comment. I let the first requests pass me by, and then the following letter was forwarded to me:

“Can you please ask Madeleine Winnett her opinion on this survey that Congu have just issued? As she is of the same opinion that the majority of lady golfers are, will she be writing an article on this survey? Maybe her opinion will carry more weight and, after all these years of this dreadful system, perhaps we can again enjoy our golf.”

I then re-read another request saying, “PLEASE do an article on it. Give it your backing – people listen to you.” And suddenly I felt the responsibility of John-Boy. I am extremely flattered that people think I may have some influence on proceedings, but unfortunately, I don’t! I wish I did.

They could have simplified the whole thing down to just two questions I am delighted that Congu have undertaken this survey to see how people really view the system, but I just don’t have any belief that things will change for the better as a result. They know how unpopular and destructive the new system has been, but every change they have made during the last decade, has only made the system progressively worse. So, am I optimistic that they will really listen to the outpourings of discontent through the results of the survey? No! Believe me, I hope I will be proved wrong, and then I will be dancing on the ceiling but, for the moment, I filled in the survey with a heavy heart and a sense of inevitability.

I actually think the questions in the survey are good, and they do give you a chance to voice your feelings at the end, which will be a positive if Congu do take them on board. However, they could have simplified the whole thing down to just two questions. Would you prefer: A) to go back to the old system, but increase the average number of cards taken into consideration, or B) continue with the current system.

Those two simple questions would categorically have provided the definitive answer to what people want – and that surely is what is important here. It should never be about what Congu want, it should only ever be what the people want. We are the ones who play the game. We are the ones who pay the membership fees – those of us who haven’t already left through complete disillusionment, that is – and we are the ones who should dictate how our enjoyment of the game manifests itself.

The reason for my cynicism is that far too much money has been invested by clubs into computer systems to run this dreadful handicap debacle now for Congu to turn round, admit defeat, and let it go back into the hands of the clubs and individuals again.

Of course, I could always invest in a brazier and donkey jacket, write out some placards, and learn a few slogans like, “What do we want?” “The old system.” “When do we want it?” “Now,” before picketing the Congu offices, but I don’t think that would be John-Boy’s style. He was a writer and he let his typewriter do the talking. He put his thoughts in his journal and in his newspaper to let other people read them and form their own opinions. And so, now, I do likewise.
I am extremely flattered that readers still want to hear my opinions on the injustices of the handicap system after all this time. I can only hope that my unbridled joy at the rediscovery of The Waltons, and the storylines where despite the turmoils suffered, good usually triumphs in the end, will be repeated in the outcome of the Congu survey.

Therefore, before the inevitable lamps are turned out at the end of this episode, let’s just keep the lights of optimism across the land glowing for a little longer, hoping for now, we still have a chance for improvement. Goodnight Mary Ellen. Goodnight Jim Bob. Goodnight Elizabeth. And goodnight Congu – at least for now!

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