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Why Scottish Golf won’t join World Handicap System clampdown

The governing body has opted not to join England Golf and Golf Ireland in bringing in tough new rules for WHS general play scores. Steve Carroll reports
 

Elite amateurs looking to enter top competitions in Scotland will not be turned away for having too many general play scores in their handicap records.

Scottish Golf have revealed they won’t join England Golf and Golf Ireland in altering their championship entry policy for any of their tournaments – and potentially denying a spot to those players whose competition and general play scores showed significant disparities. 

A statement from the governing body said that, having reviewed scoring records, they did not feel there was “a strong indicator this action needs to be taken”.

Earlier this week, NCG reported how chiefs in Woodhall Spa are bringing in a pilot scheme of World Handicap System restrictions for 2023 for their tournaments that are over-subscribed.

Players who have more than four general play scores in their most recent 20 will be assessed to look at the difference between their competition score differential and their general play differential.

Where a difference of more than two strokes is found, the player will be told their entry into that particular championship has been denied.

James Crampton, England Golf’s director of championships, said the pilot was designed to protect the integrity of elite amateur competitions and added they had seen a number of occasions in 2022 where players had entered some of their majors with handicaps that “were quite clearly based on their ability to return general play scores rather than competition scores”.

News of the pilot has proven popular with some golfers on social media and Golf Ireland have also adopted a similar policy for their competitions.

But asked whether they would be following suit, Scottish Golf said the current policy in the country allowed for all scores for handicapping purposes to count towards the handicap index for tournament entries, but have added a clause which gives wider discretion to refuse an entry to any event where there are concerns over validity of an entry. 

They added where it was not possible for the governing body to assess whether a player’s handicap was an accurate demonstration of ability – such as international entrants in Open tournaments – they would reserve additional spaces in the field for domestic golfers to “ensure home nation players are adequately represented in tournaments”.

Scottish Golf said: “Staying true to our commitment of being a data-led organisation, and with international entries aplenty in a number of our events, we simply don’t believe that access to robust and comparable data in a consistent format will be accessible for our team to enable a fair review. 

“We have reviewed a sample of scoring records for all national championships last year and, based on the data, don’t feel there is a strong indicator this action needs to be taken. We will continue to monitor both entry and scoring patterns and make any necessary changes as required.”

What do you think? Should competitions be open to all, regardless of how entrants play their golf, or should national tournaments demand a different approach? Let me know with a tweet.

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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