There was a report on the television recently that amateur golf is in decline judging by the number of people that play. It also sSuggested that there are fewer newcomers to golf than ever before.
I don’t know where the data came from to enable them to make the programme, but you can sense that they may be on the right lines. Another statistic that’s banded about is that only 10% of male golfers will obtain a handicap less than 18.
At the club where I play, 31% have a handicap of 18 or less to buck the trend. Regardless of this variation, the fact is quite clear that the vast majority of golfers fall into the “high handicap” category.
Given these facts, golf should be looking to encourage newcomers to join in with club competitions in the hope that they too will enlist a non-golfing friend to start in a wonderful sport. Elitism is on its way out of golf and it is now accessible to the majority of those who want to play it. It couldn’t be better.
The rules of golf take a bit of understanding, but careful analysis will tell you that everything is pretty well covered. But the rules of golf don’t cover handicaps.
The biggest discussion point in any golf club will be handicaps and the effect that a good round has on a player’s future level. So why penalise the masses by introducing a ¾ handicap game for pairs?
Don’t ask a 28 handicap golfer to play seven shots below his level and then ask a four-handicapper to play one shot below. Using a full handicap will stop newcomers losing the enthusiasm for playing a game that handicaps are supposed to level the playing field.
This could be one of the reasons that amateur golf is declining and needs to be aAddressed. To those that say it’s always been like this - nothing changes if nothing changes.