Taking your handicap to Australia

By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ

I visited Australia last month and I was a problem.

Anybody who knows me will understand that.

But this problem frustrated me.

I knew what the problem would be because I had encountered it on previous trips to Australia.

The problem started when I turned up to play golf and wished to join the club’s competition for the day.

The guy in the pro shop asked me for what Australians call their golf index number.

I explained that I was from New Zealand and that our identification number would not correspond with the Australian system.

For example, our identification number comprises seven digits. The Australian identification number comprises 10 digits.

The guy in the golf shop expressed surprise.

I should point out the golf club was not in a major Australian city or popular tourist area. In other words they probably do not get a lot of international visitors who want to play in the club’s competition.

I think the problem for the guy in the golf shop was he could not automatically enter me in the club competition. He would have to do so manually.

Anyhow I gave them my golf index for handicapping purposes and I was away.

But it did feel uncomfortable that they were relying on my word about my golf index, even though they could easily look up my handicap on New Zealand Golf’s website.

The reason I felt uncomfortable was if I performed well in the competition there might be doubt cast over my handicap.

I had good reason to feel uncomfortable.

Over the winter my handicap had ballooned to the highest it had been for years and if I returned to anything like my old form, I would be posting a very good score.

Don’t ask my to explain the following. Success at home would not have been a problem. But success as visitor in a different country would have made me feel like the proverbial golf burglar.

But I needn’t have worried. I posted a score of about 27 stableford points.

But I was staying for nearly two weeks and would be playing in the club’s competitions four times a week — Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. What else do you do when you are on holiday?

What say I performed well later on?

And would you believe it but on my second competition day I posted 39 stableford points.

As it turned out, that was not enough for a prize. The competition for the day was a mystery doubles event where you were drawn with a partner at the end of day. I clearly did not draw a very good partner (or maybe they just left out that cheating New Zealander).

My point here is in an ideal world it would be nice to have an identification number that you could take around the world with you. Or at the very least, Australia and New Zealand having a compatible system.

You may be aware that a world handicapping system is due for implementation next year but that does not mean having one world database for all the world’s golfers.

Instead it will be the same system for calculating a handicap, despite the differences in conditions throughout the world.

I am told New Zealand has one of the best technical systems running our handicap system, so hopefully something similar will be in place for the world.

New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy reported that for now, we know that New Zealand, England, Ireland, Wales and likely Australia and the United States will all digitally connect to make the transporting of scores and handicaps seamless.

By the way the club I visited was the Geraldton Golf Club in Western Australia. Geraldton is one hour’s flight north of Perth and is where my youngest daughter lives. The golf course is very good and the people excellent.