Picture the scene. Two golfing pals still meet up regularly for a game although one has left the course where they first met to join a club that is altogether more of a challenge. Both still play off a 14 handicap although when they play for their standard post match bottle of wine the player at the tougher course always wins and his friend is getting more than a little fed up with it.
It is at times like this that the slope system pioneered in the USA would be perfect because it adjudicates how tough a golf course is and allocates strokes accordingly. In the US the minimum slope rating for a course is 55 and the maximum 155. The average course stands in at 113 although different tee positions may have different ratings.
So when our two pals meet at the easier course, were the slope rating in place, it could register at 110 in which case the chap from the tough course would find the board posted near the first tee and look along the line for a 14 handicap until it intersects with the slope number 110, and could well find his playing handicap on that course was 11.
Similarly when they play at the tougher course with, say a slope rating of 132 the weaker golfer, would do likewise and find that he was playing off a handicap of 17. Thus the matches would be far more even, more competitive and most likely more fun for both.
The only trouble is that the English Golf Union, now England Golf, refuses to adopt it.
Way back in 1927 the R&A turned over control of handicaps to the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sadly the continental Europeans got so completely fed up with CONGU, and the English in particular, that it formed its own union, the European Golf Association, and brought in its own handicapping format based on the US slope system.
Countries other than USA using the slope include Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, India, the Irish republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, and the Republic of China.
But not England, where England Golf determinedly maintains that the standard scratch system provides all that is necessary. Only it doesn’t.
Whereas it is fine in a competition to assess a handicap where the competition scratch score is taken for the day, it does nothing to help our pals who are playing on courses which may be a lot tougher or easier than their usual club. Think of a weekday member of a little nine-hole track attached to a driving range setting off to take on Royal Birkdale. His home handicap would almost certainly be blown to the Lancastrian winds.
Apparently England Golf is finally considering the possibility of adopting the slope method and has started inspecting courses to assess their degree of difficulty. But nothing official has been forthcoming just yet. And in the meantime all English golf handicaps remain equal although some are a lot less equal than others.
Do you think we should adopt the slope system in the UK? Have your say and tell us what you think.