In these modern times, you can make much ado about nothing over just about anything. If there isn’t a solution to a problem, there’s probably an app for it and there can be no blame for anyone regardless of what the problem may have been. Fault is a four letter word and as long as you claim pure-intention, than the small print was too small to hold you accountable for anything. In an era where participation trophies are the norm and if you can’t get what you want it’s somebody else’s fault, I would like to formally issue a complaint with the USGA regarding my handicap.
I am upset with my high handicap and feel that a lower, more attractive handicap be issued to me.
I can’t be expected to keep up the level of play I expect of myself every round I play. This winter, I traveled to Florida and played two different courses in which I shot +27 and +29 (respectively). Not only was it the first time I’ve played in literal MONTHS, but the grass was (in all likelihood) different than I’m used to — the soft mowed-too-short grass in Ohio plays completely different than the tangled grass in Florida and I shouldn’t be expected to know how to differentiate between the two. And to that point, neither should my handicap!
What’s more, I have a reputation to consider when discussing my handicap with others. At my best, I was teetering on the single-digit range, and in my mind and in conversations with other golfers I meet, it is still right there (likely nine and some change in most conversations). The fact that I didn’t play college golf only makes my version of my handicap that much more impressive. I believe that rounds should be thrown out if the following scenarios factored into a round:
- I was hungry and didn’t eat at the turn – professionals are afforded with the luxury of pretty much naming whatever sandwich or Clif Bar they want and they don’t have to worry about putting it in their bag; someone else does it for them. If I don’t remember to pack a snack, my handicap shouldn’t suffer because of it.
- Never played the course before – how am I supposed to know if there is a creek that crosses the fairway, or whether I’d be able to fly it had I known to begin with? How should I know that the best way to approach a par 5 is from the left side of the fairway? I can’t be expected to buy a yardage book every time I play. Plus, yardage books are flat, and the last time I checked, real courses are in 3D.
- I get paired up with strangers – when you’re paired with strangers, part of you has to do a little bit of detective work to see what kind of person you’re playing with. Is it a part-time pro, is it someone who wears an untucked shirt and backwards ball cap? Maybe their brother just died, and it would be rude if I were to make a par because he’s in mourning and letting him win a few holes might be just what he needs. The point is, you don’t know and your handicap shouldn’t suffer because of the unknown.
- I had to rush to get to the course – I don’t need a lot of warmup unless I feel like I need a lot of warmup, but having to rush to the course, hurry up and pay, run down to the tee box and tee off in two seconds is hardly fair when judging my ability to score. If I don’t have at least 15-20 minutes to properly stretch, hit a few balls at the range, mark a putting green off with tees and get a feel for the greens, handicap isn’t going in the system.
- Also, if the putting greens are not the same speed as the actual greens, no dice on the handicap
- Slow play on the course – I get that pros deal with slow play sometimes when they’re behind Kevin Na, but they also can afford shrinks, consultants, and the like to keep them mentally sharp from 1 to 18. I have to worry about work, getting home to let the dog out, not having a pair of golf shorts that fit me… Now you’re telling me I have to play behind the Wendy’s women’s league? No. NO! Round don’t count!
- Being rushed on the course – If Johnny Bravo is behind me hitting into me when I’m lining up a putt, I’m not going to make it. Same goes if I’m in the fairway and he’s teeing off. Same goes if I’m in the fairway and I get the impression that he’s waiting on me. Same goes if I started 5 holes ahead of someone and now they’re on the green behind me as I’m teeing off. I know what they’re thinking and it’s forcing me to pull the ball.
- Too drunk or not drunk enough – I have a sweet spot (provided I’m teeing off after 9a.m.), and until I hit it, I’m not playing to the best of my ability. One beer too many, I was never playing serious anyway. Either way, handicap don’t count.
- The etcetera clause – Just like Congress defines porn as “they know it when they see it,” so too does this rule when it comes to something not counting against my handicap. I might not be able to put it into words, but if I’m on the course and I feel something isn’t right, I should retain the right to not count it against me.
In summation, all the above items are things that professionals don’t have to deal with and I’m pretty sure Old Tom Morris, or whoever invented golf, didn’t consider being paired up with Beth and Betty on Sunday when you have to meet your wife for dinner in 5 hours. In fact, the only time I feel I should count my handicap is when my game is where I expect it, my playing partner wrote me down for a score or two better than I really got and I forgot to correct him, and I put the score in a day or two later when I don’t have the scorecard in front of me, and I was pretty sure my score was just three or four over for the round.