The handicap is the golf’s measuring stick. Many casual players do not go through the effort to establish one because it has no bearing on their game. For more serious golfers, like me, establishing a handicap is important as it helps me gauge my play at any given time and provides a tangible goal to pursue. Additionally, it is important to establish a handicap through golf’s governing body if you want to play in tournaments at the local, provincial, or national level. And yet, establishing a handicap early in the season can be damaging to a golfer’s ego, so why go through the frustration?
The Canadian golf season is about 6 to 7 months long. Unless you live in warmer climes, most of us do not swing a golf club for 4-5 months. Therefore, when we return to golf with excitement and jubilance, our golf game is very rusty and the chances of picking up where we left off last season are very slim.
As a result of the long layoff, my handicap is now on the rise. As of this morning, it is 5.1. This is the highest factor I have had for many, many years. Looking at the number, I start to wonder what is wrong with my game. Do I have to revamp my entire swing? What needs fixing? Then I remember that I have broken my own rule of keeping my ego in check; never worry about my scores until mid-June!
That is right; I do not focus on my scores until about 6 weeks after playing regularly. It is unrealistic to think that my game is anywhere near ready to be tested on a day-to-day basis. I need to practice, physically train, and mentally prepare to play great golf. By not focusing on my scores, which in turn establishes my handicap, keeps my ego in check and my concern of a fluctuating handicap.
Every year I go through the same process and every year I have to take a breath, relax, and keep everything in perspective. After playing 30 holes last Wednesday, I understand that low golf scores are a result of preparation and focus. I shot my low round of the season, 77, for the first 18 holes and the last 12 were for Men’s night. The 77 was a good feeling and I was prepared to play well for 18 holes.
Unfortunately, in the last 12 holes, I did not fare as well. I was not prepared for the mental and physical challenges of playing that much golf. I apologized to my playing partners for playing so poorly and they advised me to take a cart for Men’s night next time instead of walking the entire 30 holes. I think that is great advice. Good thing the last 12 holes were not used in my handicap, however I did learn a valuable lesson about playing too much golf and what it does to my game.
Do you establish a handicap? If so, does it bother you when it rises early in your golfing season?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!