Written by John Gordon
“I’m not good enough to keep track of my handicap.”
Craig Loughry, Golf Canada’s Director of Handicap and Course Rating, is tired of hearing that.
“The purpose of the Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable by enabling players of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis,” the Golf Canada Handicap Manual states.
“If you’re playing golf regularly, you’re keeping track of your scores in some fashion,” he points out. “You’re golfing for a reason or reasons, whether it’s for the competition against yourself or others, recreation, socializing, whatever. It obviously is a significant part of your activity schedule, so why not keep track on an ongoing basis?
“If golfers didn’t care about keeping score, then courses wouldn’t need scorecards, but they seem to have to replace thousands every year.”
Loughry is right. Everyone tracks their progress in just about every other facet of their lives, so why not in their golf games? In business or other pursuits, you expect a level playing field, right? A Golf Canada handicap factor provides both for your golf life.
Additionally, you never know when not having a Golf Canada handicap factor will come back to haunt you.
Knowing zero about your handicap can find you playing off a zero handicap.
A couple of personal anecdotes…
Years ago, I was invited to play in a pro-am. When I showed up at registration, I was asked for my handicap. When I said I didn’t have one, I was told I would have to play off scratch, from the pro tees. Some of my drives barely made the tee block from where my fellow amateurs (the ones with official handicaps) were playing from. Needless to say, I started posting every score after that humiliation.
My wife (who faithfully maintains an accurate handicap factor) plays in the member-guest tournament at a friend’s club every summer. The club sends out a friendly note leading up to the event. It says, “it is the member’s responsibility to provide a handicap factor from an accredited golf association for their guest(s). Failure to do so will result in your guest(s) playing from scratch. Please note that scorecards, letters or ‘she shoots about an 85’ are unacceptable.”
If you have a Golf Canada Gold-level membership, the lengthy list of benefits includes an official handicap factor. It’s easy to post your adjusted scores online or at any Golf Canada member course and there’s even an app for your phone. It’s easy to join online even if you’re not already a member of a club and start tracking your scores right away.
Now that I’ve persuaded those of you who haven’t maintained a current and accurate factor (you must post all scores using the easy-to-understand Equitable Stroke Control system) to get on the bandwagon, here are some other handicapping notes.
Regrettably, the end of the Canadian golf season is approaching. Each provincial golf association decides on what is called the “active season” for handicap posting purposes.
By province, the active seasons are:
- British Columbia March 1-Nov. 15
- Alberta March 1-Oct. 31
- Saskatchewan April 15-Oct. 31
- Manitoba April 15-Oct. 31
- Ontario April 15-Oct. 31
- Quebec April 15-Oct. 31
- Nova Scotia April 15-Oct. 31
- New Brunswick May 1-Oct. 31
- Prince Edward Island April 16-Nov. 14
- Newfoundland and Labrador April 1-Nov. 30
GOING SOUTH THIS WINTER?
It’s never been easier to post out-of-country scores if you’re lucky enough to play in a warmer clime this winter.
“Essentially, all you have to do is simply change the Canadian flag icon to the international one and then start typing in the most unique part of the club/course name,” says Taylor Stevenson, Golf Canada’s manager of member services.
As well, says Loughry, the International Golf Network (IGN) allows Golf Canada members to link their golf membership (handicap record) from Canada to their U.S. club(s). What’s the advantage of that?
“You only need to post your score once and that score automatically gets posted into the other record. This is not only important now for our many members who travel and golf outside the country, but will be more so when the World Handicap System is implemented.”
WE ARE THE WORLD
In 2020, the new unified World Handicap System will be implemented to make handicaps truly consistent and equitable around the globe. The new system will feature more flexibility and reflect the changes in how the game is played worldwide.
For example, both competitive and recreational rounds will count for handicap purposes, the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap will be reduced and, perhaps most importantly, the result will be a consistent handicap that is portable from courses to course and country to country.
There is even a calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions affected your score.
Click here for more on handicapping.