During a recent conversation on Twitter with my friends Serge and Andre, we stumbled on a great topic. Actually, Andre is the person who first brought up his desire to lower his traveling handicap and that sparked a thought. I have spent years touting the benefits of creating a handicap index through Golf Canada and supporting your local golf course. I still adamantly support this view, but I wonder how solid my handicap index really is if I record 98% of my rounds on my home course!
I am not much of a traveler for golf. Is not that I cannot travel, I just don’t. Once I buy a membership, I generally stick close to home and play most of my golf there. Last year, I played 12 rounds away from my home course, but none of those were recordable for my handicap index. Eight rounds were in team events and four single rounds were on my new home course that does not register with Golf Canada. Regardless, my handicap index in the chart below shows that most of my rounds were in the 70s and did not change regardless of where I played.
After looking at my scores, any ‘away’ round was a few strokes higher than my index. On average, I shot two or three above what my handicap indicates I should shoot. This difference in score is not unusual because there are factors like being unfamiliar with the course landing areas, greens and sight lines. These and other important factors will always be a challenge when playing and new course. I think that if I played different courses more often, I would be better prepared for the challenges of a new track.
A traveling handicap index is a great term. I varies slightly from what the definition of a handicap index presented by Golf Canada: The Handicap Index is calculated using the lowest 8 of the player’s most recent 20 Score Differentials and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Index travels worldwide with the golfer from course to course (and tee to tee) and is used to calculate a “Course Handicap”. The governing bodies definition means that I can apply my current handicap index to any golf course, but that really does not get into the root intent of Andre’s ‘traveling handicap index’.
Although it would hard to quantify, the intent of a traveling handicap index is to develop a golf game that can is applicable to different courses. Our game is honed enough to quickly adapt to different courses and still shoot our handicap 8 times out of 20. This concept might sound easy, but really I think it is much tougher than we think. Players like myself would be hard pressed to take our home course handicap and play tougher courses without having to grind out a score. Creating a traveling handicap index would be a true test of our golfing abilitites.
I am going to give this topic more thought. I think it has merit and is worth further discussion. In the meantime, what do you think? Is a traveling handicap index versus and home course handicap index make that big of a distinction?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!