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2019 in golf

Which Rules of Golf would you change?

The NCG team discuss the two biggest talking points in the club game
 

I’m joined by Dan Murphy, Hannah Holden and Alex Perry to discuss the two biggest talking points in the club game in the last 12 months – the World Handicap System and Rules of Golf…

Have you got to grips with the World Handicap System yet?

Steve: I’ve spent more time mired in this than most and there are still things about WHS that are a complete mystery to me. I’m glad I don’t have to work out 85% allowance in a 4BBB off the top of my head and I worry that a big competition day with a computer system that is down might send a club manager off to sit in a quiet room for a few hours. 

Dan: More than I thought I would have done by now. I understand the idea and I think it’s great that we can all submit more cards. I am intrigued to see how the Playing Conditions Calculation works out in practice, and I do wonder whether the course ratings are a truly accurate reflection. The ones I have seen so far seem heavily based on yardage. We shall see.

Hannah: I understand the general concept however I am yet to play with the system so am sure I will be thoroughly puzzled at some point when I finally get out in a competition. At least I know I can always ring Steve to help me out.

Alex: I’m not a club member (yet) so it doesn’t apply to me (yet). Maybe something will come in for nomads…

How much difference will WHS make to your life and those of your playing partners?

Steve: I like to play a lot of courses and WHS is going to make a big difference here. I’m going to try and cap off a nice visit with a general play score and the chance to pit my true ability against some Top 100 venues in 2021 – and see it on my handicap record – is going to be difficult to resist.

Hannah: Hopefully it means it will be easier to get into international field events such as the British and European Amateur. Previously other countries had more forgiving handicapping systems so got in ahead of lots of GB&I players. I also generally put more cards in away from my home club so hopefully my handicap will reflect that more.

Dan: Quite a lot – I think. I hope to submit lots of cards next year on my travels so that my handicap becomes a more accurate reflection of my current golf rather than a historical representation. I do think there are lots of golfers who will happily and blissfully remain in ignorance – and that’s absolutely fine with me.

Alex: I think Dan is referring to me there…

The revised Rules of Golf have now been in place for two years. How are they working out and which one would you change?

Steve: As a sometime rules official, it’s certainly been easier to explain things to players and most people have got over the knee high drop and the three minute search time. I think they’re working really well. If I could alter something, and there was a way of actually enforcing it, I’d make the Pace of Play recommendation (of no more than 40 seconds to take a shot) a rule, except in exceptional circumstances. You’d end slow play in one fell swoop.

Alex: I asked this exact question to Rickie Fowler and he replied: “I’m not a big fan of how it looks when dropping from the knee.” I couldn’t agree more. That was a very much a case of something wasn’t broke and didn’t need fixing. But overall it was nice to see a lot of common sense brought in with the updated Rules of Golf, such as balls that move accidentally move on the green can be replaced without penalty.

Dan: The drop is the one that springs to mind for me too. The difference between the intention and the reality leads to some awkward looking moves. Especially for less flexible golfers. All in all, though, I think we’ve all got used to them now after the inevitable early harrumphing. I thought at the time that they were a big improvements, mainly in their simplification, and I have seen little since to make me change my mind, 

Hannah: In general I think they are working pretty well. I know the 3 minute rule is good for club golf and pace of play but I think in big amateur events and smaller pro events it is a big disadvantage. Especially when you are playing on courses you don’t know without spectators to help find your ball.

Want to have your say? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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