Founder of MB Golf Marketing Mark Bradford has openly revealed to GolfMagic his frustrations at the new World Handicap System (WHS) after seeing his handicap cut from 1.7 to 1.4 overnight, despite not having played golf for four weeks!
Golf's governing bodies wanted to make the handicap system easier to understand in the hopes that it would attract new golfers to the sport and grow the game. However, judging by a large number of comments we have seen on our social media channels since the WHS came into effect in the UK at the start of November, it would appear very much a work in progress.
According to the R&A website, the WHS "will provide all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability, with handicaps calculated in the same way wherever they are in the world."
In short, WHS software provides golfers with a new Handicap Index by calculating the average of the best eight scores from your last 20 rounds.
But according to avid GolfMagic reader and founder of MB Golf Marketing Mark Bradford, golf's new World Handicap System is going to do nothing but turn interested new players away from our sport, and in a hurry.
"My frustration with the WHS is the lack of communication from England Golf and the unfairness of the system," Bradford told GolfMagic.
"I’ve been openly critical and brutal but I think they deserve it... talk about driving people away from the game!
"I thought we were supposed to be simplifying golf but obviously not. Anyone new to the game seeing this system will probably think twice about taking up the sport."
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Bradford penned a letter to England Golf this morning after waking up to see his handicap shift from 1.7 to 1.4, despite him not having picked up a golf club for the best part of a month.
"How can you give people a handicap based on their best eight out of 20 scores which is their top 40%?" said Bradford.
"It’s an absolute joke and not a true or fair reflection. The handicap system should take into account good and bad rounds, not your best scores.
"If all sports did that then you’d have carnage because if in football a lower league team beat a Premier League team in the cup, then they would be promoted based on one freak score.
"We all know with golf you will have your bad days more than good days, so why do they take an average of your best eight scores? It's laughable and just not right or fair.
"I have lodged an appeal to my GM at my club and England Golf as I noticed that I’ve been cut to 1.4 overnight from 1.7 for some reason, despite not playing for four weeks. That is how crazy this system is."
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He added: "I think the way England Golf have handled the launch of the WHS is shocking. It's just really poor and amateurish in my view.
"There has been awful communication, no information, and just a general feeling of assuming people know how it works and how to post scores. It's a farcical flawed system that is just unfair, plus chopping and changing of our handicaps without any notification is madness.
"All of this is doing nothing to grow the game or bring people into our sport.
"I had a decent season post-lockdown this year but I only played one away round due to COVID, so whilst my new handicap might reflect my best rounds and my best from this season, it certainly is not a reflection of my true handicap.
"1.4 just means I am not competitive so there will be absolutely no point entering many events or KO’s certainly at my club. I was barely competitive off a 3 or 4-handicap previously, but off a 1-handicap, I may as well not bother even turning up, unless it's a scratch event which is about 5% of competitions these days!
In the eyes of Bradford, golf's governing bodies need to go back to the drawing board before a number of experienced players start to lose their enjoyment for playing in weekend competitions.
"The bottom line, in my opinion, is the system is not fair," he continued.
"I have been cut to one third (1/3) of my existing handicap which is extreme and unfair. That’s like someone off 15 being cut to 5! I’m a half decent 4 or 5, but never ever a 1.
"Every time I tee it up in a medal or other competition, I will stand on the 1st tee knowing I have no chance of competing in the event, which should not happen.
"Your handicap should represent your playing ability, but not a handicap that you play to when you have a ‘blinder’ because everyone can ‘shoot the lights out’ on some days.
"I think the stats are that golfers play to their handicap 10% of the time, meaning that 90% of the time they do not. So why do they give you a handicap based on your best 40% of scores? It’s just madness!
"According to a friend of mine who is GM at a Top 100 venue - and also a client of mine - he said they have lost or failed to import data so that managers are now having to manually input this to make sure records are correct.
"In their press releases they say it’s due to clubs not doing things correctly.... so what a great way to alienate the whole golf industry at the toughest time we have ever lived through! Portioning the blame on GM’s is even more appalling in my view.
"I have formally appealed to England Golf and my club so let’s see what happens."
What do you make of the new World Handicap System? Do you agree with Mark's comments above, or do you think it's a much better system? Share your thoughts and comments on our GolfMagic social media channels, or come and join us on our YouTube channel.