rules-of-golf-rules-modifications

 

Big changes could soon be afoot, with the R&A announcing that they are working alongside the USGA to create a unified world handicap system.

The governing bodies are yet to announce how this will affect handicaps, which are currently governed by six different organisations around the world, but it may well be that British handicaps are brought closer in line with American principles.

The US procedure for calculating handicaps is in many ways like the one which used to be carried out in the United Kingdom prior to a big overhaul in 2004, in which a handicap is ascertained by averaging out a player’s best rounds throughout the course of a year.

If you are among those who lamented the current system when it was first introduced, if the grumblings in the clubhouse were anything to go by, then you were certainly not alone, then this will be music to your ears.

After all, there will be no more worrying about that dreaded .1 before your round, a concern which undoubtedly puts many a female golfer off signing up for the monthly medal.

For many, at the time, the idea of doing away with an easy-to-use, transparent system, in which a golfer merely needed to know her four best scores throughout the season appeared plain ridiculous.

The result was that many players are thought to have drastically scaled down the amount of qualifying competitions they played to protect their handicap, while a large group of women saw their handicaps drop by as much as nine shots with the new maximum allowance reduced to 36.

Thirteen years later, and for most of us the current system has long been the norm. Indeed, as someone who was merely a junior starting out in the game when the last bout of changes took place, the current method appears from my perspective at least, a fairer, if more complex way of doing things.

It is worth noting that the new system is not motivated by any wish to return to old ways. Instead the aim of the proposed changes is to adopt a universal set of principles and procedures that will apply all over the world, a move which will likely please the top British golfers who find that their handicaps often compare unfavourably to their foreign counterparts when entering international competitions.

Whether this will see the R&A adopt the USGA method, vice versa or a different system altogether is yet unclear.

Nonetheless it’s safe to say that if the new proposals involve the scrapping of .1’s, there will be a lot of happy women at golf clubs throughout the country.

Plans are set to be announced later this year.

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