When the news came out earlier this year that in 2016 the USGA will no longer recognize solo rounds of golf as an acceptable round for handicap index tracking purposes at first my initial thought was, “wait a sec… isn’t one of the core values of golf integrity?!” I knee jerk reacted to the news and even went as far as posting to social media that I thought it was a silly ruling that doesn’t uphold the virtues of our game. …but then I had posting remorse. There must be a solid reason as to why the USGA would make a drastic change to their standards.
As a golfer with a handicap index it is my role and responsibility to follow all of the procedures set forth by our governing golf associations, post all acceptable scores, participate in peer review in order to protect the field of the golfing community, and to try and make the best score on every hole, in every round, regardless of where played.
Two words – Peer Review.
Peer review is the ability of golfers to gain an understanding of a player’s potential ability and to form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a score that has been posted. In layman’s terms – without someone their to “vouch” for my round so-to-speak I could easily play six mulligans, take 15 gimmes, and manage to sneak in an above average round of golf or on the flip I could just as easily gift myself a poor round to post so that in an upcoming tournament I am awarded more strokes against the field.
Yes, golf has many virtues and in my opinion honesty is held with highest regard but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many golfers across the country that cheat, lie, or steal strokes. After closer review I can completely understand why the USGA would make this rule change because at the end of the day it is one more way of securing our golf environment where all skill levels and sexes can compete. That’s such a beautiful thing about golf! I can go play a round with my grandfather, my niece, or someone with a similar ability and we can compete on a level playing field even from different tee placements. No other sport or game in the world can level the playing field so it’s amazing that we have a way of achieving this. Seriously, do you think you could outplay any professional athlete? Well… in golf I could easily go play a round with say Rickie Fowler, adjust our handicap indexes to a course index, and then level the playing field even though I’d be playing from the whites and him from the tips. We could then compete. Really. Pretty cool!
You aren’t playing against par, you are playing against your ability, your handicap.
Maybe this is just my soap box to continue to promote every golfer to acquire a handicap index but I also feel it’s important to remind and educate golfers across our great Southern California region. We surely don’t want to be known as the sunny corner of the country with a bunch of sandbaggers.
A solo round is perfectly acceptable to go play and I’m one who definitely does play alone from time to time… but from 2016 forward, just know that you can’t post that score for handicap indexing and that’s okay. Practice is always a good thing!
…and with that, I eat my words and take back my original statement that the USGA is going against golf virtues by not trusting golfers. It’s a good move on their part and I applaud them for sticking true to ensuring the standards of our beloved game!