I APPRECIATE what they’re trying to do … seriously I do.

A world handicapping system is a great idea, but I am really beginning to think it isn’t really working.

When it was introduced a couple of years ago, authorities told us that handicapping in Australia using the WHS (World Handicap System) would involve less change for Australia than it did for any other country.

Sounds simple, but as the old saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, then why fix it?’

And if you do fix it, what’s the verdict if it’s not as effective as what was in place before?

There appears to be a constant stream of letters to Inside Golf querying whether or not our handicapping system is working.

And much as I hate to say it, I’m inclined to agree with some of them.

For starters, golfers in the US rarely, if ever, play a stableford game of golf, whereas we play it in probably three out of every four competition rounds.

In the US they tend to play stroke rounds and simply deduct their handicap from their scratch score.

We only do that in our competitions when we are playing our monthly medals and even then our courses are set up as difficult as they can make them – so very few can play to their regular handicap anyway.

The other bugbear is that your current handicap is often assessed on rounds that you had 20 rounds ago – and not how you’re playing now.

That may work if you are playing three times a week or more, but what happens if you are playing just once a week?

Suddenly you find yourself being handicapped on a round of golf that you had five months ago.

More than once I have seen a player have, say 36 points, and actually get a shot back, while all they did was play to their handicap.

Conversely, I have seen players also have 27 points and lose a shot because they had a 42 or 43 points score drop off from 20 rounds ago.

How is that fair?

You are being penalised for one magic day – and are still being penalised months later.

And do you know the tragedy of all that? That 43 point score cost me two shots and did not even win the day as someone managed to have an even better ‘day out’ and came in with 45 points.

Sadly, I’m still paying for that round – and it was that long ago it was probably pre-pandemic.

Another issue I have noticed is that many US golfers and a fair few Europeans, as well, are happy to take a ‘mulligan’ off the first tee if they fluff their tee-shot or slice one out of bounds.

Australian golfers don’t want a bar of that – and are quite incredulous when it is suggested in any of our competition rounds.

The Americans also seem to like the occasional ‘gimme’ for short putts.

Again, we’re not too keen on that in Australia and tend to frown on anyone who comes in with a good score that may have involved a ‘gimme’ or two.

Besides, I usually miss a couple of one-footers in most of my rounds anyway. So, for Heaven’s sake, don’t give me the putt … I might miss it.

While on the subject, I also feel compelled to take some of those who assess our courses to task as well.

Off my handicap, which is currently 15.5 at my home club, well, it was raised to 16 when I played at the testing Long Reef layout in Sydney’s north last month.

Now bear with me for a moment … I can reach every par-4 except one in regulation at my home club. Yet at Long Reef I could only reach three of their 11 par-4s in regulation and needed three shots to reach the others. I hate to admit it, but the three par-5s were all out of reach in three shots as well.

I know it’s a young man’s game – and okay, I don’t hit it very far these days, but I needed a darn sight more than .5 back on my handicap to even be competitive.

Obviously, it is difficult to draw the line where the average player begins to lose distance off the tee and has to rely on their short game to make a score.

But where do we draw that line? I’m still a few years off heading forward to the Masters tees. 

And by then I’d better have a few more shots back … or I’ll be heading for a game of bowls.

And please don’t write and tell me that I’m a whinger and should stop bothering you and should go buy a set of bowls … immediately!

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