From the point of view of the kilpailutoimikunta this is a great transition to make, so far we have been talking, working, planning and preparing... but starting from 12th May the competitions will be being PLAYED... then we will be able to see which parts of our plans have been successful and also see which areas need further improvement.
There is one issue related to our matchplay competitions which I would like to discuss here explicitly because I know that it is something that has raised comments, the issue in question is the handicap allowances for the individual tasoituksellinen reikäpeli competitions (one for men and one for ladies).
The first thing to say on this subject is that we have agreed a principle, for all competitions, that we will follow the recommendations of the Suomen Golfliitto when it comes to handicap allowances. They have an excellent document (Kilpailu- ja pelikasikirja) which gives detailed guidance to golf clubs on this matter.
In the case of individual handicap matchplay competitions the handicap allowance recommended by the Suomen Golfliitto (as well as by the R&A, the USGA and all other national golf unions) is the full difference between the slope handicaps of the two players. This is what we will therefore use at Kytäjä in the tasoituksellinen reikäpeli competitions from this point forward.
In previous years of these competitions at Kytäjä the handicap allowance has been calculated based on three quarters of the difference between the slope handicaps... this used to be the "official" way to do it when I was growing up but that was changed more than a decade ago. It is true to say that in practice both systems are in use today in Finland.
The reason for the golf unions to change to "full handicap difference" rather than "three quarters of the difference" was because it is fairer to everyone. The "three quarters of the difference" system favours low handicap players. Let's take an extreme example of a scratch player playing against a 54 handicap player, the difference between their scores is likely to be 54 shots, but in a three quarters of the difference system the 54 handicap player would only get 41 strokes.
When looking at the winners of the handicap matchplay competitions at Kytäjä over the past years (played based on three quarters of the handicap difference) an interesting pattern emerges, nobody with a handicap of more than 6 has managed to win one of those events!
The decision to use the "full handicap difference" in the events from this year forward should indicate two things...
- firstly it introduces the principle that we are going to do things according to the recommendations of the Suomen Golfliitto (whose job it is to provide proper guidelines for golf in Finland on an ongoing basis) rather than following the opinions of the individuals who organise the competitions (those people and opinions can change from year to year)
- secondly it sends a message to the Kytäjä members that we want these competitions to be fair, we want to encourage people of all handicap levels to be able to participate and to have a chance to win. The handicap system in golf is unique in sport as it allows everyone to compete fairly with each other.
... one of our goals in the kilpailutoimikunta is to have a range of competitions that are attractive to members of all ability levels and to encourage participation levels to increase. This is very much in line with that.
As a low handicap player myself I know that this makes it more difficult for me to win the tasoituksellinen reikäpeli... but I also believe that I still have a fair chance of doing well in this competition, as do all of you.
I know that not everyone will like this, I know that not everyone will agree with this... but by explaining the thinking behind the issue I hope that people will at least understand the reasons for doing it in this way.
Enjoy the start of the season!