Handicap and juniors – the world upside down?

I have to confess that I love to make presentations and share my ideas and knowledge. The main reason is that it gets me out of my comfort zone, it gets me going, it makes me think, it makes me do research, it makes me order my ideas, I learn many new things and an endless number of benefits that make me enjoy every minute of the process of preparing and making the presentation.

I am telling you this because I recently had to prepare a presentation for the PGA of Spain about junior schools. I did already some presentations on this topic, so I gave a twist to the approach and made the presentation from a critical thinking perspective. In order to give it a touch of golf, I asked 72 questions with the aim of making the audience think.

During the process of searching for the best questions on such a controversial topic as handicap and juniors, I came to a conclusion that honestly had never occurred to me in my 25+ years as a coach. I have always wondered if the handicap for minors was good or bad, if it pressures them or motivates them or if it is necessary to give it to them from the beginning or when they already play something. All these doubts have always come to my mind so I started to investigate about the handicap for players in Spain.

The focus of this post is not whether the handicap should be mandatory or not or if more people would be encouraged to try and play golf without the barriers of the license and the handicap, so to start I wondered about how to get the handicap, a prerequisite to play golf in our country in federated courses. Something I already knew, is that it is the golf course committees themselves, together with the teachers, who establish the criteria to grant the handicap to the players. The first question that arises from a critical thinking is obvious, should we have established a protocol created from the Royal Spanish Golf Federation together with the Association of Golf Professionals? This would perhaps help people who want to get started to know the tests and skills they need to achieve to be able to play on the course. During all the years I have been teaching, many people have asked me how many lessons I need to get the handicap, the answer I have always given has been; you may not need to take lessons. Getting the handicap is really a test of skill plus basic knowledge of the rules of golf (at least that’s what I consider it).

The next curious fact I found is that more than 70% of the licenses in our country do NOT use the handicap during the year. That is, they do not compete or play to lower it or simply are licenses of players who no longer play golf. Of the 271,788 licenses we have right now in Spain, 236,289 belong to seniors and adults (data taken from the website of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation). With these two data and reflecting on it, I came to the “conclusion” that I mentioned at the beginning and it is the following; Seniors, who are the majority of the licenses in our country (86%) get the license and then, a high percentage does not use that handicap. The curious thing is that they can choose whether to use it or not. And I say they can choose because in the case of minors this is NOT always the case and I will give you a case that is repeated a lot. The minor is usually given a first handicap of 54, so far so “correct”. Well, in many clubs with this handicap they are NOT allowed to play on the course either alone or accompanied. It is the system itself that FORCES them to have to use the handicap and lower it to be able to PLAY. Let’s remember that seniors have a choice.
With this “conclusion”, is it the system we have in our country that is putting the pressure of the handicap to the minors? is it the parents? is it the teachers?
And from a critical thinking, does what I have just exposed make sense? I would love to read your comments on this.

I hope you have a happy day and lots of birdies!!!!

Jesús Rodríguez Salvador- Founder of Gamyplan

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)