GOLF AUSTRALIA is considering new measures to crack down on players who habitually fail to return score cards at the end of club competition rounds.
The proposals include the automatic suspension of offenders’ handicaps.
Whilst the organisation, which is the governing body for amateur golf in Australia, believes the vast majority of players do the right thing on most occasions, it admits to having been surprised at the activities of some players highlighted by the recent handicap system change.
In a new communiqué, GA says it has always been aware that there exists a very small minority of players who regularly fail to return score cards.
It says the move on April 9, 2010 to the new handicap calculation method has identified that this very small minority have in some cases been failing to return far more cards than had previously been felt to be the case by GA (and also seemingly by Clubs and State Associations).
“For example, we have become aware of instances where as many as 18 of a player’s most recent 20 competition scores have, for no good reason, not been returned,” GA says.
“Moving forward, it is important to have in place widely-understood procedures for addressing this issue generally.”
Under the new handicap system, there are a number of actions or procedures that can be taken when cards are not returned, depending on the circumstances.
Basically, most often if a score card is not returned for reasons other than accident, injury etc and it is believed the player would have had a poor score, they are given a score equal to the worst of their last 19.
If it is believed they would have had a good score, they are given the best differential of their last 19.
GA says whilst it has historically taken the view that it would be both impractical and undesirable to be too concerned about occasional incidences of a failure to return score cards, if too many cards are not returned handicaps can become distorted.
Under current provisions, club committees may take action in these cases and for instance make such players ineligible to win prizes until they start handing in the majority of their cards.
Under the new proposal being considered, the regulation would be amended so that GOLF Link will automatically withdraw the handicap of any player to have more than 25% (reduced at a later point to 15%) of their most recent 20 rounds recorded as ‘No Score – Not Approved’.
GA says in order to reinstate a withdrawn handicap, a player would merely need to have their club enter into GOLF Link the verified actual scores they have previously failed to return, or to start returning the majority of their cards.
GA has called for comments about the proposal from Clubs or State Associations by Friday 4 June – or indeed for any alternate suggested solutions.