Gordon on Golf Handicapping

The many reasons to keep a golf handicap

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Did you enjoy watching our Canadian men compete at The Open in England? Will you watch Brooke Henderson , Alena Sharp, Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes at the Tokyo Olympics? Do you look forward to the post-pandemic return of the RBC Canadian Open and CP Women’s Open?

When you do, does Golf Canada ever cross your mind? It should. Because Golf Canada is the association that promotes and supports the game of golf in this country. Most of our best players, pro and amateur, might not be where they are today without programs instituted by Golf Canada, like Future Links, Team Canada, and more. The affiliated Golf Canada Foundation raises and grants funds for the advancement of the game including scholarships. Do you (more or less) play by the Rules of Golf?

So it bugs me when the topic of Golf Canada is raised, usually during a post-round gathering, and someone inevitably utters that hoary old line about a Golf Canada membership being akin to paying taxes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I once worked for Golf Canada, then known as the Royal Canadian Golf Association. So while I may be empathetic about their mission, I also have more than a working knowledge of the association’s mandate and programs.)

The “taxes” line is usually followed by something like this: “I don’t need to be a member. I don’t need a handicap.” 

Well, yes, you do, if you are remotely serious about your game. Even if you don’t intend to play in a pro-am or a provincial or national event, who in their right mind wants to play a competitive round for even the smallest of stakes with someone who says on the first tee, “I usually shoot about xx”? And then goes out and shoots xx minus 10.

In addition, there is no better way to track your improvement (or lack thereof) than by maintaining an accurate handicap. Posting your scores and stats hole-by-hole helps you understand where the flaws are in your game.

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OK, so now that you understand why you need a handicap index, why else would you want to be a Golf Canada member? Here are a couple of more reasons.

All this for $49.95? Less than the cost of a dozen name-brand golf balls!

“It’s a no-brainer,” says an admittedly biased Ryan Logan. “If people knew about all the buckets the membership dollars go into … but the challenge is to get that message out there.”

Logan is Golf Canada’s Director of Membership and he is justifiably pumped about the benefits included in a Golf Canada membership. He is equally enthused about the impressive trend in scores being posted this year.

Logan acknowledges golf participation boomed during the pandemic and sees a commensurate increase in record-setting score posting in 2021. The data backs him up. In March, approximately 160,000 scores were posted nationwide, an increase of 64 percent over 2020. In April, when the weather improved and COVID-related lockdowns relented in some regions, there were about 500,000 posted, an astounding increase of more than 800 per cent. May saw 1.2 million scores posted, a bump of 53 per cent, and June postings were up 15 per cent year over year to 1.7 million.

The pandemic impacted the way scores were posted as well. With the club kiosks removed because of the fear of spreading the virus through contact points, many golfers availed themselves of the new Golf Canada app.

The app is free to use. (Although if you want an official handicap index, you must be a Golf Canada member.)  But anyone can use it to track their scores, find courses, play various on-course games (stroke or match play, skins), use the on-course GPS function to determine distances to a selected target, and more.

Take it from me. The app is intuitive and easy to use. I’ve started posting my scores hole by hole and so have many others, says Logan. The new World Handicap System encourages golfers to do so and Canadians have responded. According to Logan, about 20 per cent of scores were hole by hole pre-WHS. That doubled in 2020 and he estimates that up to 70 per cent of all scores will be itemized in that manner this year.

Having said all this, some of you still won’t be persuaded to shell out $49.95. So be it.

Golf, Canada!

Click here to become a Golf Canada member.