For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a single digit golfer and with a little help from the new world handicap system, I got there with minimum effort.
Presumably calculated on potential given my first three cards included no better score than 84, my first handicap in quite some time was gifted to me by the golfing gods in May last year… 7.1.
It was a shock to my system. I was humbled, if not a little put out. No way could I play to 7. I handed in a 93 next game out just to prove it and earned a full shot back. Another error strewn round later and I was 9.1 and climbing.
It’s not easy this golf craic, the late, great Robin Williams described its cruelty well, however, today I’m back down to 8.1, and although my handicap is still a few cards short of the 20 I need to boast a fully developed index, I’m beginning to think there’s method to the madness of WHS.
I realise it’s not the popular opinion, and I was sceptical for a long time too, but if, like me, your goal is to play your best every time you tee up and get your handicap as low as possible, then I don’t see an issue with the new system. It initially claimed to deliver a more accurate representation of a player’s ability and I dare say the 7.1 it branded me with in the beginning was an example of WHS recognising my potential before I did.
The introduction of casual rounds has also been a blessing for me, enabling me to stay competitive and gauge where I’m at outside of traditional competition. I’m sure they’re a god send for many others too whose weekends are spent away from the fairway, yet I see people looking for them to be scrapped.
And I get it. It’s like the Wild Wild West out there because WHS, much like the old system, is open to manipulation. That’s a people problem though, not a WHS problem, and the sad reality is that there will always be a minority of people hard up for a McGuirks voucher.
I’ll never understand the appetite amongst some people to cheat themselves, never mind the game, just to get amongst the prizes, but I don’t think golfers playing the right way should be punished for the actions of so few.
WHS is by no means perfect, but they didn’t expect it to be so soon. Personally, I still feel a handicap of 54 is unnecessarily big. I understand the motive behind it, that it, dare I say, grows the game, but I don’t think golfers are won and lost on this basis.
Maybe I’m being narrow minded but if you can’t play to 36, there’s plenty of ways to learn how to. And if you physically can’t do it, then I’m not sure why the score is strictly relevant to the enjoyment of your game. I have friends playing off 18 who should be playing off 48. They hack it around. Sign for 20 points and immediately ask when we’re playing next. If they played off 48 and had a good day, they’d by liable to break the 50 point barrier, and I can assure you they’d be mortified at that.
We’ve all seen horror stories from golf clubs around the country. Shooting 62 in the Captain’s Prize and not even finishing on the podium. Every dog will have his day but a few too many have seemingly had them since the introduction of WHS… but how much of this is anecdotal evidence spreading like wildfire and how much is based on fact?
According to data collected by Europe’s largest network of golfers on HowDidiDo, average stableford scores in competition have actually shifted from significantly favouring players in lower categories to being almost equal. Furthermore, there’s just under two points between the average totals scored by players in all categories, down from an almost 13 point difference pre-WHS.
Data Reveals World Handicap System Is Levelling Playing Field
WHS aims to ensure all players can play against all other players on a fair and equal basis.https://t.co/JXihUPd4Jn
— How do you know now (@howdoyouknownow) August 17, 2022
It seems WHS is levelling the playing field after all, and from my own experience with the new system, I can’t complain. It’s opened up the possibility of me maintaining a handicap on a more regular basis and if players, BIG IF, can just be honest with themselves and others, then I see no reason why it can’t prove to be the success it has in most countries around the world.