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Introduction of Active/Inactive Handicap System

(Article Posted on the EWGA Website January 2009)

The English Women’s Golf Association and English Golf Union are to launch an Active/Inactive handicap system which will identify the competitive nature of individual golfers.

The system is approved and supported by CONGU. It will identify, by the use of an indicator, whether an individual has competed in qualifying competitions and as a result returned information on their playing ability.

The launch of the new system follows consultation with counties and clubs by the EWGA and a series of handicapping seminars organised by the EGU. Feedback showed that clubs were not in favour of lapsing handicaps, but wanted to have more control of their members’ handicaps and players competing in open competitions. 

We have all heard of the so-called ‘Bandit’ who wins competitions with very low scores. These people generally avoid playing in qualifying competitions in order to keep their handicap artificially high. As an alternative to Clause 25 of the CONGU UHS, currently adopted by the Scottish Golf Union, the Active/Inactive system will be able to identify whether these people have returned scores without the need to lapse a handicap.

The system will be launched in January 2010 and will require all members with CONGU handicaps to have returned at least three qualifying scores each year to ensure they have an active handicap. It follows therefore that three qualifying scores will be required in 2009 to avoid handicaps becoming inactive at the start of 2010. Supplementary Scores and those returned in nine-hole qualifying competitions will be accepted. 

Those members not meeting the minimum number of scores will be identified with an i (inactive) which will appear on their CONGU certificate and handicap lists published by CONGU approved handicapping software. Qualifying scores of less than three will not be carried forward to the next year. The i will be removed from the player’s handicap as soon as three qualifying scores have been returned.

An inactive handicap may still be used for social golf and the like and in competitions not stipulating an active handicap as entry criteria.

So what is the benefit of such a system?  Well, firstly and perhaps most importantly, it will enable event organisers to run competitions, both Club and Opens, without the fear of players taking part who have ‘false’ handicaps. This can be achieved by adopting a condition of the competition that requires an entrant to have an active handicap.  Clubs may adopt this condition providing it does not cover all events and that ample opportunity is given to players with inactive handicaps being permitted to return the three qualifying scores needed to ensure an active handicap. The system should also encourage more individuals to submit qualifying scores and this in turn will help to improve the accuracy of members’ handicaps throughout England.

The EWGA and EGU will monitor the situation and review the number of scores required to maintain an active handicap at the end of 2010. EWGA and the EGU hope that this initiative will lead to a review of Clause 25 for the next edition of the CONGU UHS in 2012.

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