Handicapping changes set to make playing golf easier

Friday November 30 2018

Mumias Golf Club's Dismas Indiza tees off from 10th tee during the Barclays Kenya Open final Pro-Am tourney on March 21, 2018 at Muthaiga Golf Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Mumias Golf Club's Dismas Indiza tees off from 10th tee during the Barclays Kenya Open final Pro-Am tourney on March 21, 2018 at Muthaiga Golf Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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A new golf handicapping system to be known as World Handicap System (WHS), to be used by all the golf clubs in the world will be introduced to the game by January 1, 2020.

This new system will replace the current Congu (Council of National Golf Unions) which has been in place since 1960 though it was adapted here in Kenya by the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) in 2008.

The changes follows an announcement made early this year by both the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews Scotland (R & A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) which came together to form the World Handicap System (WHS) which is expected to replace the six handicapping system being used in the world.

The six handicapping systems are Congu, USGA System, European System, South Africa Handicap System, Argentine Handicap System and Australian Handicap System.

This new system aims at bringing six different handicap systems together into a single set of Rules for Handicapping, enabling golfers of different abilities to play and compete on a fair and equal basis, no matter how or where they play.

While the six existing handicap systems have generally worked very well locally, on a global basis, their different characteristics have sometimes resulted in inconsistency, with players of the same ability ending up with slightly different handicaps.

This has sometimes resulted in unnecessary difficulties and challenges for golfers competing in handicap events or for tournament administrators. A single WHS will pave the way to consistency and portability.

The WHS initiative has provided an opportunity for all existing handicapping authorities to collaborate; to consider the best features within each of the current systems and create a system which is modern and relevant for both the way the sport is played today around the world and how it may be developed in the future.

The WHS is designed to be inclusive, easy to understand and implement, without sacrificing accuracy or integrity.

Ultimately, this should help provide a solid foundation to the sport, for everyone from beginners to the experienced, from the recreational to the competitive, thereby supporting the development of the sport through increased participation. In January 2019, the Kenya Unified Handicap and Course Rating Committee (KUHC) will be spearheading the implementation of the World Handicap System in Kenya in line with the joint announcement by the USGA and R & A earlier this year.

The implementation of the WHS will also be used in leveraging ICT in the development of golf in Kenya. The main focus is sharing of relevant golf information for the benefit of members of the parent unions.

“Changing from CONGU to the new system may take some time and will therefore be fully operational in January 2020” Said Vincent Wang’ombe, a Kenya Golf Union (KGU) executive who is the chairman of the Kenya Unified Handicap and Course rating Committee.

But why now?

Golf is a global sport, with a single set of playing rules, a single set of equipment rules and a single set of rules of amateur status. The missing link is handicapping, and after significant engagement and collaboration with the existing handicapping authorities and National Associations, it has been agreed that the time is right to bring the different handicap systems together.

But in order to make all the changes required for Kenya to join the rest of the world in having a unified handicapping system, Kenya Unified Handicap and course rating committee which has been mandated by the Kenya Golf Union and the Kenya Ladies Golf Union, is seeking a partnership approach in the development of a Web portal and handicap software and database to run all handicaps of golfers in Kenya.