If a golf ball lands in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a noise?
The USGA last month issued six rules changes to its handicapping system that go into effect when the confetti hits the floor on New Year’s Eve.
Going forward, golfers who play alone will no longer be able to post that score for handicap.
Here is the official edict:
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)
Apparently, honor and integrity are only in play if somebody is looking.
There is likely more coming on this subject as the USGA and other governing bodies negotiate to globalize rules, handicaps and course ratings.
Only a small percentage of the golfing population will be impacted.
“It’s part of a larger involvement to create a worldwide handicap and course rating system,” said MGA executive director Jay Mottola, who’s a past chairman of the USGA’s handicap committee. “The hope is to get the various handicap systems more in line so no matter where you get a handicap it would be managed the same way. … It’s one of the few concessions we’ve had to make.”
Only a small percentage of the golfing population will benefit.
Anyone who’s heading over to Scotland to play St. Andrew’s will be able to wager a pint, knowing the locals aren’t sandbagging.
There was a fair amount of social media backlash when the changes were announced three weeks ago. Golf Canada quickly tweeted it wasn’t going to adopt the rule adjustments.
It wasn’t long before the USGA attempted to clarify its definition of playing alone:
As long as someone accompanies the player during the round (e.g., fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart) the player is not playing alone.
To post a nine-hole score, golfers must have company for seven holes. To post an 18-hole score, golfers must have company for 13 holes.
For the holes played alone (not accompanied), the player would treat these as not played under the Rules of Golf and post according to “par plus” any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive.
Good luck enforcing this one.
Let’s say you’re a single filling out a Wednesday foursome at Dunwoodie, are you checking scorecards and politely reminding the group that scores cannot be posted if somebody continually accepts gimme putts?
Think about it.
If a golfer is buried in the woods and nobody is around, is a crime actually committed?
“There is certainly a history of sandbaggers in the game and people who do it ostensibly by the rules, but are probably not properly handicapped,” Met PGA executive director Charlie Robson said. “My general sense is, why is it necessary to do anything in this realm? We keep saying time is our biggest enemy. If somebody only has a chance to play at 6 in the evening, why are we taking away the chance for those players to get a handicap if they can post a legitimate nine holes?”
I’m that guy.
Not enough of us have a proper handicap. Less than 25 percent of the active golfers in the Met area have one. A handicap comes in handy when playing in charity outings or member-guests.
Some of just want to monitor progress or the lack thereof.
“It’s very frustrating that more people don’t take the time to establish a USGA handicap,” Mottola said. “It’s easy. It’s inexpensive. And it’s something that identifies you as a serious golfer.”
The legitimacy of solo rounds has been debated for years, but even proponents of this rule change believe the USGA will have to address some of the concerns.
Why not come up with a solution that establishes separate handicaps for recreational and competitive golfers? Give the casual players a little wiggle room. Give the frequent tournament players a gold star.
Not everything in this game has to be so darn complicated.