How sHould non-mem­ber Hand­i­caps be viewed?

Golfers who aren’t mem­bers of union­af­fil­i­ated clubs can only get an unof­fi­cial hand­i­cap, but what value do they of­fer the holder?

Golf Monthly - - Your View -

n of­fi­cial CONGU hand­i­cap can only be al­lot­ted to an in­di­vid­ual who is a mem­ber of a golf club af­fil­i­ated to one of the Na­tional Unions of Scot­land, Ire­land, Eng­land or Wales. There are or­gan­i­sa­tions that will cal­cu­late an unof­fi­cial hand­i­cap for use in so­cial golf, but these hand­i­caps won’t be ac­cepted in opens and some clubs re­quire visi­tors to present an of­fi­cial CONGU hand­i­cap be­fore play­ing. Is this right? Should non-club mem­bers be dis­crim­i­nated against in this way?

At a time when the cost of pri­vate mem­ber­ship is pro­hib­i­tively high for some, par­tic­u­larly younger peo­ple, and when golf is strug­gling to at­tract and re­tain par­tic­i­pants, could there be more flex­i­bil­ity?

Var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions will cal­cu­late a hand­i­cap if an in­di­vid­ual sends them three cards (and an ad­min­is­tra­tive fee) by post or elec­tron­i­cally. They will then ad­just this ‘unof­fi­cial’ hand­i­cap with any card sent into them. It should be stressed the onus is very much on the in­di­vid­ual to do this.

For so­cial or so­ci­ety golfers, these unof­fi­cial hand­i­caps are great. They al­low an in­di­vid­ual to par­tic­i­pate in fun events with friends, con­fi­dent the amount of strokes they are tak­ing is fair. They also al­low some­one who plays fairly ir­reg­u­larly to mon­i­tor the level at which they are play­ing. Striv­ing to im­prove a hand­i­cap is one of the most sat­is­fy­ing pur­suits in golf and the chance for a non-club mem­ber to en­joy this el­e­ment of the game should be viewed pos­i­tively.

AFor the pur­poses of prov­ing your com­pe­tency in or­der to play as a vis­i­tor at a club, a non-mem­ber hand­i­cap should suf­fice. A num­ber of clubs and fa­cil­i­ties seek­ing hand­i­cap cer­tifi­cates be­fore play have al­ready recog­nised and ac­cepted the va­lid­ity of non-mem­ber hand­i­caps from the more es­tab­lished providers. And let’s face it, we all know golfers in pos­ses­sion of a valid CONGU hand­i­cap who are more than a cou­ple of de­grees re­moved from com­pe­tency!

To sim­ply fa­cil­i­tate play­ing non-com­pet­i­tively, a non-mem­ber hand­i­cap should be viewed as a good thing. It al­lows more peo­ple to en­joy more as­pects of the sport, be it ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fer­ent cour­ses or the chal­lenge of try­ing to im­prove their score. It’s when things get com­pet­i­tive, though, that is­sues arise.

The prob­lem with an unof­fi­cial hand­i­cap is in its ti­tle. Al­though there are providers able to cal­cu­late a hand­i­cap re­flec­tive of play­ing abil­ity

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