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Handicap factor: the sign of a real golfer

Written by John Gordon

You’ve heard the boilerplate reasons to maintain an accurate handicap factor.

“Level playing field.” “Track your progress.”

Blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the real reason.

Don’t be a cheater. Be a real golfer. An honest golfer.

Oh, I am sure your intentions are good. You stand on the first tee and when asked what your handicap factor is, you say, “Well, I usually shoot about xx.” Then you go and shoot xx minus 10.

There’s no polite way to say this. You cheated. And you are no doubt a little embarrassed. As an unintentional result, there will be whispers of “sandbagger” when your name is mentioned subsequently.

I have no doubt your intentions were honourable and so are you. But because you didn’t have a verifiable factor, you cheated your fellow competitors (who hopefully had a Golf Canada handicap factor) of the opportunity to compete equitably.

If anyone has a passion for this topic, it’s Craig Loughry, Golf Canada’s Director of Handicap and Course Rating. Only he would call the handicapping system “cool.”

“The obvious cool part of handicaps is allowing golfers of any ability to have either a fun, friendly match with a friend or relative or a serious competition with anyone. Look at the alternative. Otherwise, the higher-handicapped player would be slaughtered in a gross stroke-play event or worse, they enter into a heated negotiation on the first tee as to how many strokes each should get.”

Loughry points out that the Golf Canada handicap system provides for golfers who play from different tees in the same event to compete on an equitable basis.

And there are many other advantages to maintaining an accurate and official Golf Canada handicap factor over other informal and unapproved score tracking systems, including being able to observe your progress (or lack thereof) over the course of years.

Consider yourself a “real golfer”?

You’re not if you don’t maintain an accurate Golf Canada handicap factor.

And if we meet on the first tee, you’re not getting any strokes from me.

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