Golf Australia keeps my official GA handicap which sits at 14.2 as of today. In 2010, the old handicapping system was replaced by the new which is basically the same as the USGA. The old system was complex where if I played under my handicap for the day then I would “lose strokes” according to which category of handicap I belonged to – if I had an 18 handicap and managed 40 stableford points, I would have 0.3 of a stroke subtracted from my handicap for each stroke I had shaved off my expected score. So, I needed 36 points to play to my handicap I would lose 1.2 strokes and the very next round would play off a 16.8 handicap rounded to 17. Every time I failed to break or equal my handicap, 0.1 would be added on, provided it wasn’t in a buffer zone of + or -1 strokes, meaning that it would then take me 12 bad rounds to get back to my handicap of 18. Makes sense, right? I did say it was complicated but this document from Golf Australia outlines how it all was meant to work. I did the job of handicapper way back in my dual role as Treasurer of the Wirrulla Golf Club back in my early years of teaching, so it was a matter of keeping all of the club members and their results in a graph book for the year.
My very first handicap was 36 back in 1987 when I joined the Port Broughton Golf Club. I managed to lower it to 33 before I moved over to the West Coast of South Australia where I got down to 31 in my year at Wirrulla Golf Club. The following year when teaching at Ceduna, I joined the Smoky Bay Golf Club and managed to lower myself to 24. In 1990, I gained a permanent job at Port Augusta and joined the club there which was one nine grass greens and one nine sand greens, but the whole course was fully greened within the first eighteen months of my membership. I went from 24 down to 19 in the four years before heading to Adelaide after getting married.
I joined Flagstaff Hill Golf Club in 1995 just around the corner from my place of work, Flagstaff Hill Primary School and I managed to get down to a new low of 13 for a few weeks in 1998. Most of the time I hovered around the 14 or 15 mark. In 2004, I joined Grange and the combination of two much more difficult courses and two young kids at home meant that my handicap drifted back out to 19. The good thing was with the new system, everything went online onto a system called GolfLink.
GolfLink keeps my golf records for the last 4 years. So it is not hard to retrieve some key stats and see if I am improving or not. Taking the handicap at the end of each 3 month period gives me a graph like this:
Not too bad considering I only play once a week and almost never practice. I have taken up the option of heading off after work on Fridays and hitting a bucket of ball on the range on my way home, and that seems to be helping. But as one of my recent golf partners said to me, “Graham, you need to go and work on your short game even if it is only for an hour a week. That is where you will see the most improvement.” Now that I can easily see a downward trend, it would be good to work towards that goal of getting into A grade. Really, I would love to sport a single figure handicap so maybe this blog might help to keep me honest in pursuit of that dream.