In issuing new rules on recording handicaps, the Aristocrats at Golf House declared that if you’re a peasant playing alone, you can’t be trusted to tell the truth about your score.
Since I play the vast majority of my rounds as a single, the United States Golf Association has effectively called me a liar.
Here’s the statement from the USGA’s website:
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.
This rule shows once again that the Golf Lords of the USGA are out of touch with the peasant’s game. The handicap ruling is based on the assumption that golfers belong to a regular club, where players know each other and have the ability — and desire — to review and/or dispute scores.
That’s not the case for me, or for anyone I know. Peasant golfers play wherever they can get a good deal on GolfNow. On a good day, it’s an outing with three friends. At other times, we peasants book a round with a single friend. I often look for deals that have an opening for one.
When I get to the random course, the starter pairs me with one or two others (who usually are also there by happenstance). At the end of the round, we go our separate ways. When I remember, I record my score with the Golf Association of Michigan on my phone in the parking lot. At other times, I remember to record my score when I run across the card later in the day or week.
There’s no review or challenge or support of anyone’s posted score because I’ll never see those guys or gals again. I would be amazed if anyone remembered my name. With rare exceptions, I certainly don’t remember theirs.
And yet somehow, that is more reliable than posting a score when playing solo.
Even at my home course, where I am often randomly paired with guys who tend to play at the same time, I have no idea (nor do I care) what scores they are posting. I don’t even know if they post scores.
I DO play in a regular league in the spring, but my guess is that the other peasants pay no more attention to my score than I do to theirs. They’re far more focused on their beer, and I on keeping my cigars lit. Certainly no one has ever challenged a score.
I also wonder what this means for people who keep their handicap through clubs without a course. At one point, I tracked my handicap through the local off-course pro shop, Miles of Golf (an excellent place to shop, by the way). I had no idea who else was a “member” there, and thus would be in no position to “support or dispute a posted score.”
I suspect that there are far more golfers like me (and my peasant friends) than there are who belong to regular clubs where people find themselves “supporting or disputing a posted score.” That the USGA thinks their rule makes sense just shows how out of touch they are.
Take a look at who is on the USGA board: lawyers, investment bankers, doctos and business titans of various sorts. Certainly all country club members. There’s no one there who is a truck driver, small shop keeper, nurse, clerk, teacher or a anyone else who represents the average daily fee golfer playing whatever course offers the best price. There is no one to remind the USGA board that they represent 1% of the US population.
The lack of average golfer representation is, I think, at the root of the USGA disconnect. The USGA doesn’t represent me, or anyone I know.
At a time when the golf industry is wringing its collective hands over declining participation, and resorting to gimmicks like two foot holes and soccer golf, this move makes no sense. It penalizes the casual golfer and sends the message that casual golfers are not welcome. You can only get an official handicap if you’ve got a regular group at a regular club.
These rules will do nothing to prevent sandbagging or vanity handicaps. For my part, I will continue to post solo round scores.