'Inflated handicaps in the news again' - Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris

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Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris - The voice of Limerick Golf

WITH a new World Golf Handicapping System (scheduled to arrive in 2020) and currently being fine-tuned by the USGA and R&A, I did a little experiment based on what I know (so far) i.e. calculate the average of the best eight out of the last twenty scores returned in any form of golf (attested and witnessed but not necessarily in a competition).

It wasn't that big a surprise to learn that I would be cut by two, full strokes under the new system; giving me back some self-respect even if it would render me less competitive.

But, I won't have to give away my current allowance and adopt my projected 2020 handicap until I have to - in the full knowledge that my new-found banditry (on paper only) will not be of much use when competing in the Irish golf landscape of today.

You would need more than two, excess, handicap strokes to win a golf prize in a club competition.

I throw my hands up in despair especially after all of the GUI-generated publicity last year about golf being an 'honourable game'. All fell on deaf ears, obviously.

To my way of thinking, we have reached a point where winning an all-Ireland inter-club (handicapped) competition brings with it an unwanted label rather than a badge of honour.

And, maybe self-attesting will work because those honestly handicapped won't bother to enter competitions at all?

And, why should we - if the competition is so 'unfair'?

Clubs that allow 'loose handicapping' will find attracting revenue harder than ever when one can have a handicap without returning scores in competitions.

Sandbagging is not confined to Ireland. It is rife in the USA too. Over there, apparently, you can have whatever handicap you wish for, high or low, as a result of a system that is almost identical to the promised, new World (2020) System. Why do genuine golfers condone it?

Why aren't those who bring in these ridiculous scores on a regular basis shunned?

It is true that the USGA Handicap Committee takes firmer action than the GUI or Irish Golf Clubs ever do when it happens under their noses.

In the USGA-sanctioned World Amateur Handicap Tournament held at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, prior to releasing flight (category) score sheets daily, the tournament committee meets to review all of the scores returned and monitors all handicaps and the leading players' scores history before reaching one of four verdicts:

1-Allow the player to continue to play in the competition.

2-Bring the player in to meet with the committee to discuss his/her exceptionally low net score.

3- Top of Form Mutt: disqualifies the player from the competition.

4-Summarily changes a player's handicap based on a computerized adjustment table that is not open to appeal or review.

By studying USGA the chart, you can straightaway see the unlikely odds of the different handicap categories returning 'uncompetitive, once-in-a-lifetime scores' that leave everyone else trailing.

Players who happens to figure in the yellow, highlighted bracket are ejected and sent on their way with a new handicap commensurate with the score just returned and, quite right too!

Closing Courses

The closing down of the Spawell Golf Centre in West Dublin is, to my way of thinking, a catastrophic blow to golf in Ireland.

Located in one of the most heavily populated parts of Dublin, Spawell was an extremely busy, well-run place by a thoroughly professional management team.

It is not closing voluntarily. The new owners, Dublin GAA, intend to build a high performance centre and the golf course and driving range facility will close.

Golf Courses struggle on a daily basis with revenue, not to mention how difficult it has become to recruit kids into golf because they are snatched away to play far easier games to learn before golf has a chance to 'school' them in a game that will last a lifetime.

If I had one euro for every occasion that somebody said to me:

"I wish I learned how to play golf as a kid!" I'd be rich!

Words of the Wise

The reality is that most goals (in golf) take 3-times as long as you think to achieve. That's why it pays to be patient

- Nick Bradley