Ivan Morris Column - Golfing Nomads ‘buying’ a handicap

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
MUTT: Here’s something else to chew on. Golfers don’t realize they are breaking the rules if they don’t return cards after every competition round. All scores are taken into account no matter how few holes are played. Completed cards with two or three bad scores are routinely adjusted under the CONGU System, and may not automatically qualify for upward adjustment. The non-returning of scorecards skews CSS, which in turn affects all handicaps. The application of .1s to non-returns is discretionary - not a right.

MUTT: Here’s something else to chew on. Golfers don’t realize they are breaking the rules if they don’t return cards after every competition round. All scores are taken into account no matter how few holes are played. Completed cards with two or three bad scores are routinely adjusted under the CONGU System, and may not automatically qualify for upward adjustment. The non-returning of scorecards skews CSS, which in turn affects all handicaps. The application of .1s to non-returns is discretionary - not a right.

Jeff: Too many golfers continue to manage their handicaps because they don’t consider it cheating, which it is. Is it worth risking one’s reputation to win unfairly? For many, competitive golf at club level isn’t worth playing. There are too many instances of ‘outrageous’ scores. A growing number has given up on playing in club competitions. It’s a serious matter for any Club relying on entry fees to boost revenue.

Mutt: I understand that CONGU will announce a number of changes to the handicap system to take effect from January 2016. A new ‘Club Handicap’ will be introduced for clubs who wish to allocate a handicap higher than 28 for men and 36 for women in club events - only valid at home club and not in open competitions.

Jeff: That won’t achieve much - anything else new?

Mutt: The Competition Scratch Score for men will now to include Category 4 players in the same manner as Ladies CSS calculation. I’m guessing this will result in higher CSS’s with more cuts and less .1s? If you can play only nine holes and score better than, or within, buffer you will have 18-points added to create an 18-hole score. If your score returned is outside buffer, it will be doubled for handicap purposes.

Jeff: That’s a good development! Some golfers cannot afford to spend 4-hours plus that it usually takes to play 18-holes.

Mutt: Players who notch up seven consecutive 0.1s will be flagged allowing the Handicap Committees to apply an immediate handicap increase if required. Also, the handicap allowance for fourball better ball has been increased from 3⁄4 to 90%.

Jeff: That’s just fiddling!

Mutt: Possibly - but you must make allowances for the fact that legislators have to take ALL golfers into consideration and try to make rules that will be fair for everyone. Here’s hoping that CONGU’s new rules will achieve a more equitable game. A fairer Handicapping System is at the heart of the spirit of an honorable game.

Cicero: Quick question, for you two experts - I didn’t renew my club membership this year because I changed my job and moved my home. Is my GUI card still valid to enter open competitions, or will I have to wait until I join a new Club?

Jeff: It all depends on whether or not your former Club has cancelled your GUI number.

Cicero: And if they have cancelled it, is there anything I can do? ‬‬‬

Mutt: I don’t think so. No club membership. No handicap. No open competitions.

Jeff: If you are not playing that much and want to be flexible, you could become a member of a small, obscure, club for a relatively small fee. Or, rejoin your old club as an outlying member? You’ll be legitimate then. But you need to be careful new rules mean you will have to return at least 3-scores at your home club to regularize your handicap and become eligible to play in ‘away competitions.’

Mutt: If you were not a club member in the previous calendar year you have no handicap to transfer and you will have to submit three cards wherever you join. You cannot play in open competitions outside your new Home Club until you play in at least three qualifying competitions at that club.

Cicero: How is this rule enforced?

Jeff: All Golf Clubs have a responsibility to uphold the rules in the interest of their own members. There is no leeway. In order to hold a CONGU, GUI or ILGU handicap you MUST be a member of a golf club.

Mutt: This rule was brought in because it was suspected that clubs were selling handicaps in order to obtain green fees.

Jeff: You do have 6-months grace before joining a new club and thereby retain your previous handicap. Anything longer than 6-months and it is 3-cards PLUS reference to any previous handicap because your new Club may use your old handicap information up to June 30 in the following year.

Cicero: I’d better join a club soon and be quick about it.

Words of the Wise

Stuart Grehan earned 65-World Amateur Golf Ranking points for his victory in the South of Ireland— more than double Stuart Bleakley’s haul in 2014. An improved field helped but the 36-holes qualifier helped more. Moving from Category F to D means The South is back on par with the other provincial championships. More needs to be done. If The South installed a 54-holes qualifier with 16 going forward to a separate match play event, there would be a double whammy of WAGR points. There are too many match play championships in Ireland. The GUI should ‘encourage’ the provincial championships to rotate (in turns) between match play and stroke play? WAGR-wise, the Irish golf calendar would be upgraded considerably and become more attractive to ‘outsiders’ if more stroke play was included.