When the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced intended revisions to their Handicap System on November 23rd it was not met with harmonious agreement.
In fact, at least one of the changes proposed to come into affect on January 1, 2016 appeared to offend a number of their membership, judging by the uproar on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
In a sport where integrity (See the USGA’s own values section) and honesty is integral, one of the six changes revealed seemed to question the capability of golfers to have those traits. The proposed change was in the Acceptability of Scores and basically said, “If you golf alone we don’t trust you to keep and submit an honest score.”
The actual text provided by the USGA read as followed:
“Playing alone and necessary peer review: To further support the key System premise of peer review, scores made while playing alone will no longer be acceptable for handicap purposes. This change underscores the importance of providing full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability, and the ability of other players to form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a posted score. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)”
As a leading body within the administration of the Joint Committee of the Rules Of Golf it was a significant decision. The question on the lips of Canadians upon hearing about the change was whether our official National Sports Organization and governing body would fall in line.
The answer came swiftly following the U.S.G.A decision. Just over 24 hours after the U.S.G.A issued their press release announcing the changes Golf Canada laid out their stance in a pair of messages posted on their Twitter Page.
Our Handicap & Course Rating Committee has voted not to adopt Section 5-1e vi of the USGA Handicap System Manual. (1/2)
— Golf Canada (@TheGolfCanada) November 24, 2015
Scores made while playing alone will continue to count for handicap purposes.(2/2) — Golf Canada (@TheGolfCanada) November 24, 2015
In a time when golf associations are striving to retain members and encourage participation in the sport this seems to fall in line with the changes in the 2016 Rules of Golf. Some adjustments in that code look to put more emphasis on being reasonable, which the crackdown on solo golfers and questioning their ability to be honest does not seem to be.
Many golfers play alone, for various reasons, and punishing those who do not play in a group by not making those solo rounds acceptable for handicap purposes is very short-sighted, at best.
In a game where being inclusive should be a priority, calling out the integrity of your constituency does not seem prudent.
In my humble opinion, Golf Canada and their Handicap & Course Rating Committee made the right call.
Single golfers, carry on.
And if some American friends wish to come north and play a round or two, I’d be happy to be the “peer review” by attesting their scorecards.
Choosing to play golf alone should not make you any less of a golfer. In fact, making the effort to get out there and play, even when your friends or family are not available, should be nothing but encouraged.
It counts in many ways to the game of golf and the industry, and not just for the score you put in the computer afterward.