Club members lost ‘due to handicap system’
Approximately one in 10 golf club managers have said they have lost members solely as a result of the introduction of ‘inactive’ handicaps, according to a new survey.
The poll for The Golf Club Secretary asked about the system, in which golfers that fail to return three qualifying scores in the same calendar year are given an ‘inactive handicap’ status for the following year, preventing them from entering events that require an active handicap to participate until they submit the three cards in. It has proven to be highly divisive as several managers of golf clubs have passionately criticised and endorsed the system in almost equal measure.
About 10 per cent of respondents stated that they had lost members entirely because of the changes, which were brought in at the start of 2010, while 81 per cent of managers said they did not lose members because of it. The remainder stated they could not tell for sure.
The survey also found that the ‘complications of Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU)’, which maintains the handicapping system, have resulted in members at more than 15 per cent of golf clubs canceling their memberships.
More than 60 per cent of golf club managers also said that nine-hole competitions are not popular at their clubs, while a slight majority of managers do not believe that nine-hole competitions are a good way of obtaining or maintaining a handicap.
However, other more recent CONGU changes to handicaps have been given the thumbs up. About 70 per cent of respondents support new measures for how Competition Standard Scratch (CSS) scores will be calculated, and nearly 80 per cent agreed with the statement that ‘the new exceptional scores is an improvement’.
Many of the comments made by golf club managers in the poll about CONGU centred on the debate over ‘inactive’ handicaps, with several managers also stating that the majority of their members do not understand the handicapping system.
“Wish they never introduced inactive handicaps,” said one. “We are considering pulling out of England Golf.”
“The changes regarding lapsed handicaps seems unnecessary and confusing,” said another. “I doubt the majority of members will ever completely understand the CONGU system.”
“Inactive status is causing dissatisfaction among club golfers as they do not understand the handicapping system,” stated a third. “It detracts from the enjoyment of the game and we see more golfers playing outside of competitions to enjoy themselves and self-regulating their handicaps with each other.”
In support of the system however, one manager stated: “I do not believe that the complexities of CONGU drives golfers from clubs, but the reality is that the vast majority do not understand the system.”