Cut Your Handicap
Individual national governing bodies are responsiblefor their handicapping system, but the process usuallyinvolves submitting a minimum of three scorecards froman affiliated course verified by a partner whopossesses a handicap. British and Irish players, forexample, are regulated by the Council of National GolfUnions.
The handicap exists to impart a level playingfield for golfers of differing ability, whether theybe a man, woman or junior. For example, if one playerhas a handicap on 14 and another one of seven and theformer takes seven more strokes to complete a round,they will be deemed to have performed equally well. Obtaining a handicap means that the number of coursesavailable for you to play on both at home and abroadwill increase greatly by virtue of the fact that manyonly allow entry to players who hold one.
Submitting your scorecards allows for yourperformances to be tracked and your handicap adjustedaccordingly, either up or, hopefully not, down.
Getting BetterPlaying like the professionals off scratch ie with ahandicap of zero, is the dream of every amateur, buteven if that dream is unlikely ever to become reality,cutting your handicap is tangible evidence that yourgame is getting better. Achieving such improvementdoes not come easily to the majority of players andrequires a great deal of effort in terms of payingattention to technique and not allowing bad habits tocreep in. And remember that even the greatest playersin the world have to put in the hours ensuring theykeep their game sharp, so don't neglect your work onthe driving range and practice greens.
Depth of KnowledgeFamiliarity with the club course you are playing atcan also contribute to that magic number coming down.Whether it is learning how to overcome that difficultdog-leg on the ninth or learning to read the tricky15th green more efficiently, a greater depth ofknowledge should be reflected in your score card. Buta word of caution here: no two rounds of golf are everthe same, both in terms of individual performance andconditions outside of your control such as theweather.
Consider, too, whether your existing playing partneris holding your score back. That may sound like arather pompous statement, and gaining, not losing,friends is all part of the attraction of the game.
Nevertheless, whatever your level of ability you willrespond to the challenge of a better player who drivesfurther, hits better approach shots and more easilyturns the screw on the putting green than your regularcompanion.
Greater ChallengeThere is no suggestion here that you abandon thelatter, simply that as you get more serious about yourgame, then perhaps leaving time in your schedule forthe other man or woman in your golfing life may bringits own rewards.
In turn, as your scores improve thanks to the greaterchallenge, then when you meet up with yourlong-standing partner you will be able to help theirgame improve, too. So, everyone's a winner.