Feeling frustrated with the new handicap system? Just hang in there, you are not alone

  • May 31, 2021
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By Rosemary Dolan

The new World Handicap System, WHS, is causing problems in many countries not just Kenya.  Though WHS is based on the American Slope Rating system, even the Americans are not happy with it. The chap who devised the Slope Rating system back in the 1970s, known as “The Pope of Slope”, has described WHS as a “downgrade from the old USGA system” (Golf Digest, January 2020). And in Great Britain and Ireland a host of modifications, corrections and interpretations have already been issued to clubs.

Meanwhile in Kenya we must try and carry on as best as we can while the golfing powers that be sort themselves out. The Kenya Golf Union, KGU, and its handicap sub-committee (KUHC) has issued various  documents and information sheets to clubs and has held online training sessions for golf captains and golf administrators. And there is more to come.

A hard copy of the 116-page KGU version of the Rules of Handicapping has been issued to every club in the country and hard copies of the little Kenya Player’s Edition are, or should be, available at every club. I have been involved in writing many of these documents but am told by a fellow golfer that the best way to keep a secret in Kenya is to write it down! But if you want to understand WHS fully, there is no way around it; you must do some reading.  You might start with the WHS website (www.whs.com).

However, the system is complicated, and it would help if clubs would hold information sessions for their members. That is of course assuming that each club has someone who at least understands the system!  

Each club has been asked to form a Handicap Committee. And the first task of this committee is to go through all the newly allocated Handicap Indices to see if they seem reasonable. We have found cases where some Handicap Indices are clearly wrong, and we have brought these to the attention of Club Systems International, CSI, for resolution. CSI is the company that supplied the software, Club V1, to run WHS and provided the App “HowDidIDo”. Each golfer should if possible, try and register on this App; though be warned even that isn’t easy.

First, every golfer should confirm his/her Handicap Index either from your Home Club or from HowDidIDo. The next step is to establish your Course Handicap and that will be different for the different tees at your home club and different at away clubs. Most clubs in Kenya have just two sets of tees one for men and one for women. Under the new system men can play from the women’s tees and vice versa. Each club has been provided with Handicap Conversion charts which should be displayed prominently preferably at the Starter’s hut, in the pro shop or at the main reception area.  These conversion charts allow you to convert your Handicap Index to a Course Handicap.

However, knowing your Course Handicap is not the end of it because if you want to play in a competition, be that a medal or a stableford, you need to know your Playing Handicap, which is 95% of your Course Handicap. So, whereas hitherto we had one handicap, now we have to deal with three! But provided you put your correct Handicap Index on the score card you’ll be fine, and the club committee will do the rest for you.

Admittedly, we are still experiencing inconsistencies in converting Handicap Indices to Playing Handicaps. There are also challenges with registration on the HowDidIDo app.  Out of frustration, some might even clamour for us in Kenya to do it our own way, but golf is an international game and it’s a small world. KGU in conjunction with the R&A and CSI are doing their best to resolve matters. Meantime “stay patient” both on and off the golf course; we’ll get there- eventually.

Rosemary Dolan is a member of the KGU Handicap Committee

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