Why every golfer should maintain an official handicap

What’s your number?
Tom Tippin
General Manger, Gilwood Golf Club

You’ve heard the standard reasons to maintain an accurate handicap factor.

“Level playing field.”

“Track your progress.”

Blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the real reason.

Don’t be a cheater. Be a real golfer. An honest golfer.

Oh, I am sure your intentions are good. You stand on the first tee and when asked what your handicap factor is, you say, “Well, I usually shoot about xx.” Then you go and shoot xx minus 10.

There’s no polite way to say this. You cheated. And you are no doubt a little embarrassed. As an unintentional result, there will be whispers of “sandbagger” when your name is mentioned subsequently.

I have no doubt your intentions were honourable and so are you. But because you didn’t have a verifiable factor, you cheated your fellow competitors (who hopefully had a Golf Canada handicap factor) of the opportunity to compete equitably.

If anyone has a passion for this topic, it’s Craig Loughry, Golf Canada’s Director of Handicap and Course Rating. Only he would call the handicapping system “cool.”

“The obvious cool part of handicaps is allowing golfers of any ability to have either a fun, friendly match with a friend or relative or a serious competition with anyone.

Look at the alternative. Otherwise, the higher-handicapped player would be slaughtered in a gross stroke-play event or worse, they enter into a heated negotiation on the first tee as to how many strokes each should get.”

Loughry points out that the Golf Canada handicap system provides for golfers who play from different tees in the same event to compete on an equitable basis.

And there are many other advantages to maintaining an accurate and official Golf Canada handicap factor over other informal and unapproved score tracking systems, including being able to observe your progress (or lack thereof) over the course of years.

At Gilwood, we will be encouraging all members to maintain a handicap during the 2018 golf season. Every member is automatically registered with Golf Canada with the membership paid by the club. Members will get an email early in the spring with instructions, user name and password to log into their Golf Canada account.

We will make it even easier for you. A “Handicap Station” will be set up in the Pro Shop where you can enter your scores immediately after your rounds. Still too much? Just give your card to the Pro Shop attendant, and we will enter your scores for you.

Having a true handicap will only add to your enjoyment of your membership at Gilwood. All of our club tournaments will now have “NET Scoring”, meaning with an accurate handicap factor everyone has a chance to win!

I remember quite a few years ago now, as a “scratch” or “0 handicap”, I lost the Club Net Championship to a good friend of mine, who happened to be a 21 handicap. He was thrilled, and so was I. The handicap system worked exactly how it was supposed to. Head to head, without handicaps, he really wouldn’t have stood much of a chance, but handicapped… well you get the picture.

There are a number of recreational formats we could run at the club once we get everyone on-board. Not a member, but play Men’s or Ladies’ Nights? You can still register with Golf Canada and track your “number”.

Consider yourself a “real golfer”?

You’re not if you don’t maintain an accurate Golf Canada handicap factor.

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