Club members lost ‘due to handicap system’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 26, 2012 10:55

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.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 26, 2012 10:55
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  1. david morris August 22, 10:03

    3 sensible comments.

    Just how did golfers allow Congu to hijack the game ?

    I think we should be told……..

    Kind regards

    Reply to this comment
  2. Graham Bradley July 26, 14:32

    The very word “Inactive” who thought that one up! Surely a “Sociial” handicap would be better and self explaining. Can you remember when we all just had ” a handicap ” and left it to the clubs to decide which comps you couldn’t enter if your handicap lapsed, I.e. you didn’t have 3 cards in?

    Plus the total time taken up, or wasted, each year checking how many cards you had in, I am sure my handicap is active, can you check, etc etc etc could be better spent looking after more important issues like creating more members or most importantly looking after the ones we have.

    I think our members nationally are incredibly patient of these regular goal post moving ideas drummed up by Congo, which all seem to make the system more complicated and often soft wear based. It would be interesting to find out how many existing members enter competitions compared with those who just play in groups and sort themselves out with a simple system thought out by…….yes, themselves!

    There are good points about the system but I would vote for a visit from the KISS police. Keep It Simple Stupid, a good title for a book.

    Graham Bradley

    Reply to this comment
  3. Adrian Stiff July 26, 13:13

    I don’t see any plus in allowing people to become inactive. Once they have gone inactive they can claim an injury and put in 3 cards and blag a new high handicap. We have one former 8 handicapper now off 23 that was unsure whether to hit a 4 iron or a rescue into one of our par 5s for his second shot. The ideas that the authorities have been coming up are crazy with and big deterrents to promoting membership golf. Golfers in categories 3 and 4 need to be cut lower when they start doing nett 60s, something like 0.4 per shot for the first 4 shots under but 0.8 for the shots thereafter. And yes the sooner we get rid of active/inactive the better, some people stay members because they don’t play much but they like to keep their handicap. I explained all this when it was mooted but was assured it would not happen.

    Reply to this comment
    • Roger Maliphant November 14, 11:55

      Hi Adrian
      How are you?
      Hope things are going well for you at the Players or are you mainly in Spain?
      I just got sent this article and can’t agree with you more but isn’t it time somebody made a stand on this convoluted system. The number crunchers would have you believe that this is now the fairest handicap system ever but who is it meant to be fairer for? Better players moan that higher handicappers win most events with 40 plus points and low 60’s and this is considered standard practice amongst newer golfers. I have had a score of 40 points no more than 10 times in a 40 year playing history and I was a plus 1 golfer! There is a trend for groups of friends to manage their own handicaps amongst themselves regardless of what their club handicap is and this has been the case for society golfers since I can remember.
      The system is not fair but it needs a big club and a big person to say that enough is enough and that they are going to do it their way. Most golf club members don’t use their EGU affiliation anyway so it wouldn’t affect them in the slightest and the club would only need to monitor scores and general play in the old fashioned way

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