The handicap merry-go-round continues

2012-03-23 00:00

THE governing body for golf in this country, the South African Golf Association (Saga), has again made changes to the handicapping system which came into effect at the beginning of February. The changes relate to the maximum allowable score per hole and the number of shots that a handicap may move up and down in a given month.

The maximum score allowed to be entered for handicapping purposes is a two over par on any hole and on any number of holes in a round of golf for golfers with handicaps below 18. For handicaps 19 to 36, a three over par on any hole applies.

Saga claims that this new method falls into line with the American system which uses the best 10 from 20 scores. Over the years, we have seen changes from the best 10 from 20 scores; then it was changed to the best six from 12, thereafter the best eight from 16 and yes, you guessed it, the merry-go-round continues, back to the 10 from 20.

Five years ago we were given two handicaps, one for individual golf and one for betterball and alliance golf. This didn’t last long and we reverted to the same system it was before the change.

This continual changing of the handicap system is because, we are told, the handicap section of Saga is trying to make handicapping more equitable between low and high- handicap players. No handicap system can control those golfers who wish to manipulate their handicaps, but it seems that the new system will make it easier for those individuals.

The new system will put more pressure on the club handicappers. They will need to be more vigilant to the movement of member’s handicaps because there is now no limit to the number of shots that a golfer can receive or be cut.

Believe it or not, a swing of two, three or four shots at a time can happen and there is bound to be far more queries and criticism of not only the system, but of the handicapper himself or herself. For the golf clubs with a large membership, the handicapping job will be a nightmare.

The British handicapping system hasn’t changed in years and it seems to be fully accepted by golfers. We cannot adopt that system because it’s based on medal play. They play far more medal rounds than we do and whenever betterball is played, the score cannot be entered for handicapping purposes.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the new Saga system unfolds, but you can bet it will change again in a year or two. Saga can’t seem to find a lasting formula.


From the 19th hole:

A dying man who had no surviving family members, summoned his accountant­ to his deathbed.

He said: “When I die, I want to be cremated.” The accountant asked, “What do you want me to do with your ashes?” The old man replied: “Put them into an envelope and mail them to the South African Revenue Service with a note saying, ‘Now you have everything­’.”

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