Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I am not sure how valid my comments are given I am not one of the elite and therefore have never had the opportunity to enter any of the Order of Merit events.  I do however play Open events and I have so far this year played 12 Opens at away courses and 9 Medals at my home club.
While I understand John Laurie's comments about value for money, particularly in relation to the Scottish Amateur with the possibility of being knocked out in the first round, in general the other events I believe are tremendous value for money and I would argue are underpriced.  If I go along as a casual visitor to Gailes at a weekend I would have to pay £100 per round.  If you enter the Edward Trophy (36 holes) the entry fee is £30 while the Tennant Cup (72 holes) the entry fee is £60 including lunch not forgetting the opportunity to win a voucher.  I wish that I could get to play Gailes for that price.  Other tournaments are at a lesser discount but at a discount all the same, e.g. Battle Trophy entry fee £40 for a 72 hole tournament while the weekend green fee is £75 per round.
I also believe that there is a growing feeling among ordinary members of many golf clubs that host such events that they cannot necessarily see the value in giving up their course for 2 days at a weekend for a 72 hole event (with courtesies for practice rounds in the week leading up to the event) or for 5 days for the Scottish Amateur during the main playing season where the member is paying say £600 - £800 for their membership and watching competitors ignore all the requirements with which the ordinary club member would be expected to comply, such as no trolleys on tees, keep trolleys outside white lines to protect the green aprons etc.  In fact, did Gailes not reduce the Edward from 72 to 36 holes a couple of years ago due in part to them hosting 2 x 72 hole events which the members were beginning to feel was unfair to their general membership?
In terms of the handicap system if players are not entering because they are concerned that their handicaps may go up then it appears that they are playing off the wrong handicap anyway.  In general over a season all golfers handicaps will fluctuate both up and down.  Where you are playing extremely poorly your handicap will rise but only by 0.1 and thus it will take some time before this would impact to the extent that your handicap falls over the point at which you are playing from the next higher handicap.  In my case I have gone up from playing handicap 7 to playing handicap 8, back down to 7 and I am now at the point where a bad round will take me up to playing handicap 8 again.  This seems to me to be correct as it truly reflects my playing performance over the season (which it is fair to say has not been good).
I note Ann Smart's comment about Ladies no longer having to submit a certain number of away scores (something that used to be required for a man to have a category 1 handicap in the old system also) and this also seems to me to be a reflection on the ambition of those players at that level.  If you want to prove you truly deserve a handicap at that level and you want to truly test yourself then you need to play away.  It is back to the old truism about being a big fish in a small pond as you are if you only submit scores from your own course or a small fish in a bigger pond if you also test yourself by playing away from home.
I also agree that slow play is a deterrent not only in elite events but also in events open to the general body of handicap golfers.
D Neal Stewart
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