How can you tell that you played poorly if you don’t have a handicap?

The other day I was resting near the first tee after I played a few holes, when another golfer approached. We greeted then exchanged a bit of small talk which went something like that:

  • Other golfer: How did you go?
  • Me: Not very well. I hit a few good shots, but the whole game was very inconsistent. Quite disappointed with my swing today.
  • Other golfer: What’s your handicap?
  • Me: I don’t actually have a handicap.
  • Other golfer: Are you a member in this club?
  • Me: Sure
  • Other golfer: Then you should have a handicap
  • Me: They don’t require handicap for membership
  • Other golfer: Then how can you tell if you played well if you don’t have a handicap?
  • Me: (A little confused) It’s my gut feel

How can you tell if you played well if you don’t have a handicap?

That is the weirdest question I’ve heard in a long time. What does it even mean?

I think this is really the mindset of the typical golf club member. Each is given a participation trophy so they don’t feel bad. I mean these are mostly people over 60 years old. I can understand a child given some recognition for his effort, but old people? I think this is completely counterproductive.

How can members feel good about their game and continue to pay their annual golf club membership fees if they shoot 20 over par? Easy. Give them a handicap of 22, and there you go. They just shot 2 UNDER par. Magic. Well, not quite.

Not for me. I can understand that some people will be better then me. I am never going to be the best at this game, but if I beat someone in golf, I want to do it on level playing field. Not with help of a golf handicap.

I see a lot of players on a Saturday afternoon in the bar. They sit around the table congratulating each other on a great game, but I’ve seen them play. Their game is not great, it’s not even good. 99% of them can’t hit the ball straight, or a decent distance. I would be ashamed to be congratulated for it, let alone receive a trophy.

Maybe I’m just new at this. Maybe in a few months or years I realise that it’s impossible to shoot off scratch and settle for a handicap of some sort. I don’t know if I will, or if I even can. I know myself. I still have this desperate drive to be really good at anything that I do. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me…

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