Club committees operating under the World Handicap System will be encouraged to dish out penalties, as England Golf's Gemma Hunter explains

Everyone knows the person at their club who does this – the player who walks off after one bad hole, who writes ‘N/R’ in big letters through their scorecard at the slightest bit of adversity.

Or worse, they just don’t post it at all.

It’s not towards the top of the leaderboard where we should look but the bottom – to scan through the list of disqualifications and no returns.

Those responsible for bringing in the new World Handicap System have been paying close attention and they’re encouraging club committees to come down hard on those who fail to submit a score without a valid reason.

“If there was no valid reason and an acceptable score is discoverable, that score will be posted and a club sanction may be applied,” attendees at England Golf’s World Handicap System workshops in the summer of 2020 were advised.

“If the score is not discoverable, a penalty score must be posted. In the most serious cases, such as repeated failure to submit acceptable scores, the Committee has discretion to apply additional penalty scores, reset the player’s Handicap Index or consider other disciplinary procedures.”

The ultimate sanction could see players who “deliberately or repeatedly fail to comply with their responsibilities” having their handicap index withdrawn.

Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating, said one of the key principles of the rules of handicapping was that players competed with the intention of trying to return their best score.

“As golfers, we shouldn’t just be walking off the course because we’ve had a bad day,” she explained. “We want to try and discourage that from happening but we know people do have bad holes.

“You have a 10 or 11 because you struck three out of bounds. It happens. But it doesn’t mean to say that has to impact the rest of your round.

“For handicap purposes, you can still play the rest of your round, record a score and put that into your handicap record. You could have had a really good card going before that 10.

“Because we are using nett double bogey, that now becomes an 8 or a 7 – depending on the par. So why can’t it go in [to your record]? Why isn’t it a valid score?

“We want to get more scores into players’ records and [discourage] people who just walk off the course and no return, without a valid reason – and that’s the key.

“If you’ve had a call saying your child’s ill and you have to get home, that’s a valid reason.

“Because you’ve had enough, or want to go and watch the football, isn’t a valid reason. You’ve signed up to play 18 holes of golf and so you should complete your round.”

Need more information on the World Handicap System?

Visit our dedicated WHS page where you will find everything you need to know and details of how to contact us if you have any more questions.

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