With the introduction of a “World Golf Handicapping System” coming into force in the future, the state of handicapping golfers around the world is going to change.
These changes are to be put in place to ensure a universal handicapping system which currently does not exist.
The creation of such a system is going to have an impact on the entire golfing world and bring about a dramatic change in the way individual regions calculate and alter handicaps.
Currently there are 7 handicapping systems in place that are directed towards the style of play most prevalent in the regions, with the local or national governing bodies controlling and maintaining the handicaps of players. The United States Golf Association (USGA), Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU), European Golf Association (EGA), South African Golf Association (SAGA), Golf Australia, Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and Birdie Thailand are the current systems used worldwide and they all have different methods to calculate a player’s handicap, varying rules on how to maintain and use the handicap, dependant on the competition format.
As an example of the variations of how the organisations calculate handicaps, The USGA base their system around the preferred format of play a four ball better ball whilst the CONGU system in the UK is based around the fact that almost all competitions are individual based, with many golfers based within a golf club environment.
However, in relation Thailand, the new world handicapping system will bring about several issues.
Firstly, around 99% of all Thai golfers and expat golfers in Thailand do not belong to a golf club. This creates the issue of how will Thai nationals and foreign expats that do not belong to a club go about obtaining and maintaining their handicaps, will they need to become members of golf clubs to have the opportunity to have a worldwide officially recognised handicap? This could have a huge negative effect on the state of golf within the country and ramifications for the many golfers and clubs.
Secondly and perhaps the most worrying thing about the proposal is the need to have a designated organisation within each country to implement the system and ensure the integrity and application of the system within the country.
The only organisation in Thailand that can issue any kind of official handicap at present is the Thai Golf Association (TGA) so an obvious choice for this responsibility would be this organisation, but this leads me to further issues.
The Thai Golf Association is somewhat lacking in modernisation and I see three major factors that could jeopardise the implementation of such a system;
1 – The Thai Golf Association is an open association that anyone can join, however it is predominantly directed towards Thai nationals, resulting in the majority of information only available in Thai, meaning that foreign ex-patriots will be limited in regard to the information they can obtain
2 – Currently the Thai Golf association use a software system that is obsolete and they are reluctant to upgrade this system to one which would facilitate the smooth transition to the new universal system
3 – The TGA only update handicaps once a month, which would need to be changed in order to maintain the integrity of the universal system.
All of these obstacles lead me to think that the universal handicapping system, although a wonderful idea and a long time coming, would be difficult to integrate into the Thai golfing culture as certain requirements simple cannot be met here in Thailand.
The golfing culture in Thailand would simply not change or keep pace with the rest of the world in handicapping terms and for these I do not see the universal handicapping system have any kind of impact on golf handicapping here in Thailand
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