Does Golf Canada Think We All Cheat?

I am starting to wonder if Golf Canada and other National Golf Associations around the world think we all cheat?

So back in November the USGA came out with a position that rounds played alone will no longer count for Official Handicap purposes. This decision was generally met with a collective “you have to be kidding me” and one sane voice in that of Golf Canada who came out very quickly to reassure Canadian golfers that Golf Canada would not be following the USGA lead.

After further thought (which I have to assume included a call from UGSA to Golf Canada), Golf Canada decided that it would align with the USGA and change our handicapping rules as communicated such decision on Jan 22, 2016.

Yesterday, Friday January 29, 2016 Golf Canada hosted a twitter Q & A that provided individuals to ask any questions they had (a great use of social media).

Based on today’s chat, I learned two things

1. The decision was taken in order to align Canada with other nations so that a world wide handicapping system could be implemented at some point. No other details provided.

2. The decision was taken to strengthen peer review of system. Scores obtained when playing with others better reflect your true playing ability because they are subject to peer review (i.e. less

First off, I 100% support the concept of one handicap system for all golfers over the globe, this actually makes a lot of sense.

I do not accept the argument that such a system requires a strong peer review element in order to be considered valid, especially when you take other factors into consideration such as:

  • As soon as you post 5 scores you forever have a handicap (as long as you pay your dues) whether you post another score or not. I would say this is a bigger problem for handicap validity than playing alone.
  • For a player like myself, I will play between 30 – 50 rounds of golf and maybe 10 of those will include other people. The system uses your best 10 of your last 20 scores, so the more up to date your oldest score is (i.e. 20th score ago), the more up to date your handicap is. In my case, under new rules I am going to have scores in my last 20 going back two years as opposed to having all 20 from the same season. The need for peer review would actually make my handicap less valid then if they would trust that I follow the rules and let me put in all 50 rounds.

I would love to see a world wide handicap system that allows golfers to continue to govern ourselves.

Lastly, Golf Canada is going to take a lot of flake over this one. In their defense, they are in a tough spot, given the competing interests of some (if not the majority) of their members and the interests of the international community. At the end of the day, I suspect the vast majority of Golf Canada members are still members through their clubs vs. public players and I don’t see many not joining their club because of this (with mandatory membership fees being paid through club). Golf Canada may see some public players choose not to become members, but I suspect the fall out is minimal.

To answer my opening question, no, I don’t believe Golf Canada thinks we all cheat, I think they believe international alignment will have greater impact on growth of game than handicapping rules will. Only time will tell. For now, I am looking for someone who wants to play at 5am on weekdays before work with me.

See you at the turn,



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Aaron,

    Good post. It’s certainly a tricky topic. In ways I get where GC is coming from trying to align, and they no doubt received some pressure from the USGA. On the other hand, I don’t agree with solo rounds not being able to count, so I wish they would strive for a world system in a different way. Any honest player who plays solo rounds, like yourself, won’t have as accurate of a handicap factor. Every time we play a round under the rules of golf our scoring potential is updated, which should be reflected in our handicap index. That won’t be the case anymore for those who play solo often. There is something wrong with that. Sandbaggers will sandbag, there are no rule changes that will stop that.


  2. mrj803 says:

    An excellent post. Your position – only playing a certain number of rounds with others – is not uncommon. I still feel GC is addressing a problem which is practically impossible to police, since cheaters will cheat. The integrity of players like you, me and others seems questioned now. I’m concerned GC will marginalized too many for the sake of principle. Thanks for this, Mike.

  3. Brewcee

    Great post. I understand the arguments, but I think a majority of golfers do not really care about one system for the entire golfing world. It looks good on paper, but I am not sure that really adds any value to the average player. We shall see.


    1. aaronrbruce says:

      I think Golf Canada is counting on the average player not really caring about handicaps in general, which may be the case.

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