The Niggle: Do higher handicappers need more shots?
It’s the continuation of a trend that is seeing lower handicappers having to give more shots to higher handicappers.
Most significantly, we now see full difference being awarded in singles matchplay.
What’s been the impact of this at your club in the last few years?
Has it seen the prizes being shared out more equally? Has it resulted in players of all abilities thriving in matchplay competitions? Or is it now a waste of time in your opinion for the Category One players to enter the annual knockout?
Maybe you’re a rabbit who feels that, despite all their moaning, the better players still seem to come out on top more often than not?
Our team (of predominantly low handicappers!) have got some forthright opinions and we’re sure that you do too…
Jordan Elliott (5 handicap): At my club I still see the low handicappers doing well in all forms of golf, be it fourball betterball or singles matchplay.
I think this will always be the case.
I think generally speaking the lower handicappers have more golfing experience, which earns them a few of holes in matchplay against a higher handicapper.
It is a different story though, when said high handicapper is a bandit!
Mark Townsend (8 handicap): Don’t quote me but when they changed the shots in singles matchplay from three quarters to full handicap, the stats went from something like 70+%, favouring the low handicappers, to the high 50s.
Unless you’re particularly strong of mind it is quite easy to get spooked by the first tee shot when playing someone who is 10 shots better than you.
You spend most of your time watching them rather than playing your own game.
Then, when it comes down the business end of the match, the stats then favour the better player even more.
Tee shots go left quickly, chips are thinned/fatted and short putts missed. The mind is a big factor and you are always reacting to what the other player is doing.
Dan Murphy (3 handicap): Even with full difference, I’d still expect the low man to win more often than not.
Having a couple of shots left on the last few holes in a tight match is little comfort when you know your opponent is a better player and therefore less likely to slap one out of bounds or leave it in the bunker or three-putt from 20 feet or whatever it may be.
I understand that matchplay lets you off with losing just a single hole when you run up a big number but I’d still fancy my chances in singles against a highly erratic higher handicapper.
What has become more difficult for low handicappers is to make their way through a club knockout for the obvious reason that it’s harder to win match after match than it used to be. And if you do come up against someone having a good day it’s that much harder when they are getting more shots.
James Savage (17 handicap): The handicap system itself is by no means perfect but I think full difference in singles and 90 per cent in 4BBB is right.
I still think the lower handicapper wins more often than not and that is how it should be. It gives players like me an incentive to improve.
When I do win, I enjoy it but don’t take a huge amount of satisfaction from it if someone has given me loads of shots. But we shouldn’t encourage a system where the higher handicapper never wins.
I can be inconsistent so will probably lose more than I win – even with a full allocation of shots.