Nepali Times
Tee Break
Less is more


How does one know if you are a good golfer or a bad golfer? By your handicap. The handicap system reflects the yardstick of better levels of play. It allows players of varying abilities to compete fairly against each other. This has led to the integrity of the sport.

Golf in Nepal has grown really fast these past few years, both in relation to skill and the number of players and this has inevitably led to higher levels of competition. Players are out to scoop prestigious wins. But here's what they must pay attention to: their handicap.

The lower a handicap, the better the player, such that a zero handicap amateur is said to have reached one of the pinnacles of golf. A 28 handicap for men and 36 for women would indicate beginners. Because lower handicappers are more appreciated in the golfing community, it is essential for a player to strive for less. To take pride in such achievements is expected and accepted because it is no small feat.

To maintain fairness and honesty in the handicap system, all players must diligently submit their verified score cards after each round they play. The essence of handicap allotment comes down to evaluating and averaging verified scores for a minimum of 10 full (18 hole) rounds. Recently, major tournaments have seen some confusion and disappointment because players submitted more than one handicap.

Compared to other capital cities, Kathmandu is considered small. However, it has three golf courses and a number of golfers who are members of all these clubs. Surprisingly, such members often hold upto three different handicaps, one for each club they play in! According to international standards, a player may have only one legitimate handicap. When players hold more than one handicap, finding out his actual handicap becomes confusing and difficult.

As small as our golfing community is, let us keep it honest and intact. Look at the international standard procedure set by the governing bodies of golf to solve this issue. Amongst the guidelines given are:

. The local governing body of the sport should have all the golf courses in the country evaluated for their course and slope ratings.

. A player who is a member of more than one club must declare their home club and only the home club must maintain the handicap.

Thereafter, when players play any given course, their handicaps are adjusted according to a very well defined system. The bottom line of this system is that if the course being played is more difficult than the declared home course, the handicap allowance increases. Conversely, if the new course is easier, the allowance is reduced.

According to this internationally recognised handicapping system, the player is responsible for sending scores of all rounds played anywhere in the world to their home club, including all tournaments participated in. This way, handicaps can be properly maintained. We have a golf governing body in Nepal and we look forward to their taking up this issue seriously and promptly. The result of quick action will ensure that amateur tournaments continue to be fun and fair.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)