By Ketan Raja
There is a lot of anxiety regarding the implementation of the World Handicap System, WHS, in Kenya. This is understandable. I have been following the roll out keenly since I have been very fortunate to be in the country having arrived in Kenya in the first week of December 2020 to visit my parents.
I have seen a lot of similarities in terms of teething problems we experienced in Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) when we migrated to WHS on 2nd November 2020. The significant differentiation between the implementation in the two jurisdictions is that whilst we had similar implementation issues in GB&I – these have been resolved in a period of no golf activity! It is worth pointing out that since the implementation of the new system, golf has been literally at a standstill in GB&I with the existing lockdowns in place. In Kenya there are three to four competitions in a week in certain clubs! Uploading scores from the backlog of competitions played since 15th January 2021 is indeed a challenge.
During the initial phase, data for 30-40% of our members was missing in the system but that was eventually rectified. This was due to the fact that a small number of members were considered inactive and that was largely because they had not entered score cards in the last two years or they were inactive for other reasons such as their demise or joining other clubs. Luckily my local golf club was already using Club System International- the system provider in Kenya- for a number of years prior to the WHS system implementation so our queries went directly to them without the involvement of the English Golf Union.
In Kenya the Kenya Unified Handicapping and Course Rating Committee has a much bigger task in providing technical support to all golf clubs. This is an area that I believe that golf clubs in Kenyan need to take a more proactive role. Each golf club, if they have not already done so, should appoint a Handicapping Committee which will be responsible for maintaining the Handicap Index of members at their home club and to ensure the Index is administered in accordance with the requirements of the Rules of Handicapping. The Committee should have a minimum of three playing members and should work alongside the Golf Administrators to ensure the members’ lists are up to date. It’s an ongoing role which would include annual review of members’ handicaps and encouraging members to submit competition and social scores for handicapping purposes.
Individual players also have a crucial role to play in the success of WHS. Every player must be conversant with their Handicap Index and the Course Handicap of the course they are playing. It is important to note that the Handicap Index is more prone to oscillation than the CONGU handicap so before you play in competitions, ensure that you know your updated Handicap Index. Download the howdiddo app, register yourself and confirm whether your Handicap Index is displayed at your home club. Players need to correctly record the Course Handicap on their scorecards. Other aspects of scorecard filling remain the same – with a strong emphasis on making sure correct gross scores are recorded whether its stableford or medal rounds. Always countercheck your Handicap Index and the Course Handicaps at any of the clubs you play.
Kenya has made big strides in the WHS implementation journey. A little patience is required as a lot of hard work continues behind the scenes to facilitate the adoption of this universal system which is expected to be fairer and consistent for all players around the world.
Ketan Raja is a member of Middlesex County Rules and Competition Committee