By: Adam Atkins
If you are joining us from the previous article – you have a good starting point from where we stand. If you happen to have missed it, here’s a link: Trust Me, Just Try Golf!
And now on to Part II…
I remember just starting in the game of golf and my dad would completely dominate me on the course. His shots were farther and straighter than my erratic shanks that were sprayed all over the course. My father has a kind soul and would encourage me to keep trying. However, I was a young stubborn, overly competitive young buck who could not stand the fact that he could not hit the ball as far as his dad. I would walk off the ninth green defeated and ashamed at the embarrassing display I had shown on the course. Yet, somehow I would only lose by a stroke or two – or even win!
How is this possible? Is my dad just super kind and let me win in order to make sure that I continued to play with him? He is. Is he selfishly hoping that I continue to play so he has someone that he can play with not named his wife? He is. Does he occasionally hit bad shots and somehow I luck out and win a hole? He does. While all of these reasons ring true, they are not the reasons why I was able to be competitive in a match that I had no business being in.
Golf is a unique sport. A sport that has a variety of aspects that make it one of the best sports on the face of the planet. It is one of the only sports that allow athletes (yes, golfers are athletes) of all different skill levels to compete on a level playing field. There is no other sport in which an experienced professional can realistically lose to beginner.
- You have to be athletic to be good at golf (article #1)
- You can compete at any level in the game of golf
Growing up, I played soccer and basketball. I was never the fastest or the most gifted, so I had to rely on hard work and busting my butt in practice. No matter what I did I still could not manage to crack the starting lineup – but it wasn’t for lack of effort. In many sports there is nothing you can do, some people are just more gifted. Call it the hand you were dealt or call it unlucky, sometimes God-given talent just outweighs hard work. However, in the game of golf there are ways to make it an even playing field across the board. Something that is unique to golf and no other sport.
If you play golf, you undoubtedly have a group that you tend to play with often. In our group we have varying degrees of talent, with one or two golfers that are very good. However, more often than not they leave the golf course without winning any money – crazy, right? Well, myself and the others in the group can thank the handicap system.
There is no other sport that features a handicap system that allows for beginners to compete with experts. In golf, someone can score a 68 and still lose to someone who scored a 79. The handicap system is made for the weekend golfer, yet the average weekend golfer probably doesn’t take advantage of their handicap – or for that matter understand the handicap system. Let’s break it down…
A golfer’s handicap is based upon their average score in relation to par. For instance, if a golfer typically shoots an 82 – then they have a handicap of 10 strokes. I know, it sounds like math – Bryson would be very pleased! Essentially, in a given round that same golfer would get to subtract 10 strokes from their score. So if that golfer has a good day and scores a 76, their net score would actually be a 66. In other words, if you are a bad golfer and muster together a surprisingly good round – you are going to make some cheddah!
That is simple way of putting it – but what if you only play nine holes? What if you are playing match play? The handicap system can still be used to even the playing field. That same golfer would get one stroke on each of the 10 hardest holes on the golf course. Let’s say that 5 of those holes happen to be on the front – then for each of those holes, that same golfer would be getting a stroke a hole.
Some people may be reading this and think – this seems really unfair! Why would I give other golfers an advantage in a game that I dedicated so much time in to get better? While we could get into a long drawn out argument about this – I would simply rebuttal: Why would someone who is clearly not as good as you, play/bet against you without some type of help?
If you want to learn more about the handicap system a quick Google search will explain course rating and different aspects that affect a golfer’s handicap. Whether you choose to use the handicap system or scrap it – there is no denying the fact that golf has allowed itself to be played by all kinds of people with all kinds of skill. Now tell me what other sport has that?
Follow Adam on Twitter @Lousomumo254