By Rosemary Dolan
The article in yesterday’s T-OFF News provides a fair analysis of the current problems clubs are encountering in migrating to the new World Handicap System, WHS. However, it fails to highlight one important fact- the role of golf Captains.
It is unfortunate that most club Captains nowadays pay little attention to mundane things like handicap records. Captaincy is not just about enjoying privileges associated with incumbency like reserved parking space; one of the cardinal duties of a Captain is to oversee the keeping of accurate, up to date handicap records essential in managing the game of golf.
One of the persistent problems under the CONGU system, which used a software package called HandicapMaster, was failure by clubs to send scores to the home club for visitors or away members. So, the good score registered away from the home club was seldom captured in the player’s record meaning the player knowingly continued to play off the wrong handicap to the detriment of other golfers. Few Captains made any effort to ensure that this mandatory transfer of scores was done in a timely fashion, despite pleas from Kenya Golf Union, KGU. Most Captains failed to even understand the difference between MasterScoreboard and HandicapMaster, let alone know how the system operated.
One of the major problems with transferring the handicap records from clubs in Kenya to Club Systems International, the WHS software partner, in Scotland has been the jumbled up club handicap records. Many clubs, it seems, never make any effort to clean up their handicap records. Members who have moved their handicaps to other clubs, left the country or sadly passed away still appear in the HandicapMaster.
It is worth noting that it took KGU several months to get clubs to submit their handicap records. Some clubs were reluctant to send their records because that would reveal to KGU the true headcount – clubs pay an annual affiliation fee for each golfing member. Other clubs just pressed a button and sent lists of members including some who had long left the club. Very few Captains oversaw this process or took any responsibility for ensuring that their club could move smoothly on to the WHS.
Another major problem in this venture has been the delay caused by the Americans and the British in accepting the fact that the majority of clubs in Kenya are located way above sea level, above 5000 ft. Any up-country golfer knows that when he or she plays at the coast, they need to adjust their play- a club higher – to attain the corresponding distance. The altitude variation was only accommodated by the USGA this month, thus considerably delaying the migration process.
Following the handicap freeze on 15th January 2021, Golf administrators are now faced with a considerable backlog. They should work smart by prioritizing entry of the good scores returned in the last few weeks to ensure that the Handicap Index of each player is up to date; other scores can wait a few days. Maybe, the Captains might provide some assistance with this task and perhaps learn something about the new system.
The Captain also needs to explain to members that they will not play off their Handicap Index but it will only be used to calculate the Course Handicap on each specific course. Since all our clubs have been rated more difficult than the average from our usual tees, golfers’ Course Handicaps will be higher than the Handicap Index.
All the necessary information has been provided to Captains and thanks to the delay, they must now be experts and well versed to play a useful role in their clubs.
Rosemary Dolan is a member of the Kenya Unified Handicapping and Course Rating Committee.