A couple of recent experiences made me write this one.
I am stood on the first tee on a beautiful afternoon in a Saturday stableford when my playing partner skips the traditional introduction of name and handshake opting instead for ‘it’s not worth f……. bothering there’s a 48 in already, 34 handicap’. I gave this the air time it deserved and reverted back to name, handshake and remarks about how lucky we were to be out playing on a day like this. I think he gave my comments similar air time. The following week I completed a very enjoyable round in a couple under par and set off in the direction of the 19th. Anyone that knows St Annes Old Links will know that there is a hill (gentle incline) from the 18th green to the clubhouse. Now after a difficult day this can feel a bit of a trudge but that day I was skipping up there as if there were free Hollands Pies at the top. Other pies are available but frankly why would you ? At the crest I was met by a fellow member who I have played with several times. He asked me how I got on. Now I understand secret golf speech, so I know that means ‘ask me how I got on’ but I replied with ‘a cracking day thanks, great fun and finished a couple under’. Dutifully I followed that with ‘how about you’? A face of a man who had just got his second wind as they called last orders said miserably ‘10 under but there is 12 under in by 36 handicapper so no good’. He got in his car and left. Now lets get this out there. This is the cathartic bit! I am not a fan of the WHS. I believe a golf handicap should reflect when people play well not the scores they do every week. The reason is that the potential to better your handicap by multiple strokes goes up the higher your handicap is. Every coach will tell you it’s much easier to get a 30 down to 20 than a 10 down to scratch. The idea of the WHS was too make it more inclusive and my view is that it will work in reverse and force clubs back down the old ways of separate competitions for different handicap categories and prizes for best gross etc. There is nothing apart from ‘Committee Rule’ stopping clubs implementing these now. We have the WHS and we can see where it works and where it doesn’t so just make the changes to make it work for everyone. There are not many sports where the better you are at it the less chance you have of winning but that is a consequence of the new system as the high handicappers best day nett is always going to better than the low handicappers best day. Given that, do I have any sympathy with my playing partners view? Maybe a little but it comes down to why do we play. What gives us pleasure. My mood after the couple under par round was not going to altered by the fact that someone else did well and if I had the 10 under I might still be in bar now. We all play for different reasons and combinations of many factors. Developing skills, human interaction, exercise, competition and many more. If your only success criteria for a good day is winning in a sport where you have no control of your opponents then good luck achieving that.