Congu handicapping allows all players to mix in action

Friday January 12 2018

Mutahi Kibugi follows the flight of his shot from the 10th tee during the Barclays Kenya Open Pro-Am event on March 21, 2017 at Muthaiga Golf Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Mutahi Kibugi follows the flight of his shot from the 10th tee during the Barclays Kenya Open Pro-Am event on March 21, 2017 at Muthaiga Golf Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By VINCENT WANG'OMBE
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I visited my parents during the Christmas holidays and as is the usual case, my children were very excited running around and playing all over the place.

At some point, despite warnings from his father, my son decided to climb one of my mother’s pawpaw trees that was not strong enough to bear his weight.

The pawpaw tree broke and my son somehow managed to land on his feet almost like he was executing a practiced gymnastic descent from a pommel horse. He took one look at me and quickly ran to my mother’s arms.

He knew that Cûcû’s (grandmother’s) arms would protect him from his dad. He also knew that her memory was such that she only remembered all the good he had done and quickly forgot all the wrongs.

I couldn’t help but wonder what those same arms would have done to me when I was my son’s age. My mother was a disciplinarian and her motto was; I will spare the rod for what you’ve done today - this is just in case you decide to do it again.

Watching my mother and my son at the site of the decapitated pawpaw tree, I just smiled and thought how the years have made her so forgiving.

This somehow made me think about the changes that will be taking effect on the handicapping system this year.

CONGU has become the very lenient grandmother who will allow any one who can swing a golf club. How many strokes they make in an 18-hole round of golf may not be significant.

One can now get a legitimate 54 handicap complete with a “c” for “competition” right next to it. I believe that this move is meant to encourage budding golfers to take to the golf course.

The downside of this move is that it will deal a severe blow to the self-esteem of golfers like Barno and Mukora who despite playing for many years still find that they can never play to a 28 handicap.

The changes basically mean that if a man cannot play to a handicap 28, or a woman to handicap 36, they will not be consulted when the system adjusts their handicap upwards.

Their handicaps will still have the “c” and they will therefore be eligible to participate in any competition that requires one to have a valid handicap.

Despite all the negative talk, there is a bright side to this whole high handicap saga. It is now easier to award an initial handicap.

Granted, some clubs have a condition that new golfers need to play at least one round with a member of the handicap committee in order to get a handicap.

This is not a bad requirement if it does not unnecessarily delay the award of an initial handicap.

The system just requires three 18 hole rounds for one to get an initial handicap. I however think that it is a good idea for someone in the handicap committee to ensure that the new golfer has a good idea on the Rules of Golf.

That is if they have taken some time to learn the Rules themselves.

Another positive development in the CONGU handicapping system is the fact that there is no longer a limit of the number of supplementary cards one can submit in a calendar year apart for golfers who play off handicap five or better.

This is particularly necessary for able-bodied men who find themselves in the unenviable position of playing off a handicap that is the normal human body temperature. The curse of testosterone!

But let this not blind us to the fact that not all of us are destined to play off a single digit handicap. God did not see it fit to grant us all equal abilities.

We all have different physical, temperamental and ways-of-life limitation to be able to play par or better rounds of golf.

Golf is a comparative game. That is the wonderful quality of the golf’s handicapping.

This is the reason why a high handicapper can take on a champion golfer in a match. This cannot be done in say a tennis game.

Before we start complaining that the high handicappers are going to slow down the pace of play, it is important to bear in mind that 90 per cent of all golfers play 90 strokes per round.

Majority of us are what are referred to as ‘bogey-golfers’. It is a plain indication of our inherent limitations.

Few of us are reconciled to our limitations. CONGU on the other hand has come in like a loving “Cûcû” and is showing us that despite our limitations, golf still loves us and we are always welcome to visit.