Which do you want more - a win or a handicap cut?
Steve Carroll: So I was having a ‘conversation’ in my club at the weekend. A pal of mine was putting in a supplementary card – basically turning a round on a non-competition day into a qualifier.
He enjoyed a successful 18, his 38 stableford points shaving another .4 off his total and taking a shot off his handicap.
I must confess I scoffed, telling him he’d wasted a shot he could have used to great effect in the year’s final medal the next day.
‘It’s about getting my handicap as low as possible,’ he told me. ‘It’s not about the money’.
Now I don’t hold on to shots and I don’t massage my handicap. When I put the ball on the tee at the 1st in a competition I want to take as many shots off as I can in that particular round.
I am not a sandbagger.
But I also want to win stuff.
I want trophies on the mantelpiece and cash to use in the pro shop. It’s the rewards you get for doing the business on competition day.
I’m not that desperate to get into single figures that I’ll lose out on winning a monthly medal by sticking in a supplementary each week.
Am I right? Is golf about the glory and ‘getting the W’ – as Tiger used to say – or is it just about the figure that comes after your name?
Am I bothered?
Dan Murphy: I’m not bothered in the slightest about winning the medal/stableford. I view success (or failure) on whether my handicap is going up or down. I hear lots of golfers being really pleased when they ‘get a shot back’.
When that happens to me I’m ashamed to show my face in public.
I do like it when my handicap is an even number that said. It makes the maths that much simpler and you don’t have a ‘hard’ nine in a stableford where you have a shot fewer.
SC: Why enter competitions at all then? You could just stick a free supplementary in every time you played and save the dough.
DM: Who said I didn’t enjoy playing in competitions? It’s just that my goal is to get my handicap down. It’s about controlling the controllables, Steve. There’s nothing I can do if you shoot the lights out in the group behind – why would I let that spoil my day if I’ve played nicely and done my stuff?
Tom Irwin: Winning things is a dim and distant memory for me. 2016 has yielded 1 piece of silverware, the August Blue Tee medal at Alwoodley when I was one of 2 people in a field of twenty physically able to complete the course. Other than that focusing on point ones rather than pots is the only option available to me.
I have recently had to clear out all my old golf trophies as my parents are moving house, the bad crystal, silver plate tat and MDF plaques that have happily lived in a loft 100 miles away are now in my bin, no one cares that I won the Tathwell in 1993 (I didn’t and it still niggles), or the Grimsby 101 in 1994, least of all me.
What did you really achieve? Well done you beat a load of other try hards charading off at least 5 shots higher than they ought to be.
On that point, I had my best round of the year at Woodhall Spa in a medal a month or so ago, I shot 3 under gross and came 5th!
That is the problem isn’t it? The handicap system is so arbitrary that all you can do is measure yourself against yourself or you leave yourself open to being disappointed by some sandbagging charlatans like Steve. Handicaps are the worst thing about golf, if you ignore the sexists and racists.
Tom Lenton: Win – whether it is club championships or playing a doubles match for a fiver with my work colleagues.
Both of which I would rather shoot 4 over my handicap and win than get cut .2 and finish 5th. Isn’t one just a by-product of the other?
SC: As someone who has regularly shot 1 or 2 under handicap and finished with diddly, I’d say it isn’t.
TL: 1 or 2 under in category 2/3 isn’t going to win much is it? That’s the problem. It’s usually – 4 or 5 to win. Category 1 anything around level has a chance most days.
SC: It’s usually division 1 and division 2, which means I’m in division 1 playing with the low handicappers. Where level has a chance…
A handicap present
DM: I wonder how many people would accept the gift of an extra shot on their handicap on their basis it would increase their chances of winning?
SC: I know from experience that this view is widespread. People often say ‘Great, I’ve got a shot. I can compete now’. I know of examples where people have put supplementary cards in specifically to get their handicap up.
I, however, think that’s theft on a grand scale. I’m not trying to cheat my handicap. I’d just like to pick up a prize on the occasions I do manage to shoot a good number.
James Savage: I agree with TL that you should just play to win whatever you are playing in. If I’m playing tiddlywinks with my niece, deep down, I still want to win.
But sadly in golf, some people will never win. They are there just there to make up the numbers.
Their personal battle with their handicap could be the only reason they get up on a Saturday morning.
TL: You won the medal last week, Steve?
DM: Surely the whole point of the handicap system is that every dog has its day? Whereas your niece will never beat you at tiddlywinks. Well, not until she learns how to crawl anyway.
TL: In a club comp, no. To beat you Dan, I’d take as many as you’d let me.
TI: How do you play tiddlywinks?
Jamie Millar: A game in which small plastic counters are flicked into a central receptacle by being pressed on the edge with a larger counter.
JS: I missed a sitter on the final flick last week but still buffered.
JM: Happens to the best of us, Sav.