Is the World Handicap System turning more experienced golfers away from the game? One Women & Golf reader tells us what she thinks.

Following our recent survey – in which 93% of people felt increasing the handicap limit has been detrimental to women’s golf – we’ve shared a few of our readers’ experiences of the new handicap system.

Jane proposed that the former 36*P handicap was a much better system. You could play as much golf as you wanted at that level. Or you could prepare for competitive golf whenever you were ready.

Then, providing a completely different perspective, Lauren raised some really important points about pathways to participation and removing the barriers that seem to be in place.

Katie's story

This week, Katie (we’ve changed the name of our reader to keep her anonymous) wrote in to tell us about the division the new handicap system has created at her golf club.

Katie told us ...

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to read the Women & Golf article on the WHS and how detrimental it has been to the wonderful game of golf.

I have played golf for 42 years. I am fit and well. My handicap index is 17.3 and I play golf on a championship course, a minimum of three days a week, whatever the time of year or weather.

Since this system came in, I have been extolling to my fellow members exactly what was stated in the article. The high scores in competitions, the handicap protection. Ladies wanting to reduce their handicap is a rare breed and crazy winning scores. 

In my club there is a big division between the lower handicappers and the higher.

I play all the medals at my club. I don’t play aggregate competitions because I know I have no chance of winning. And high handicappers don’t play in the club medals, but they do play in Stableford events.

I’m sorry that the game I love and am still very passionate about has moved far beyond what is reasonable, from my original days in 1980. Believe me I do embrace change and I’m not a dinosaur. But what the powers that be are doing in golf now is not beneficial to the more experienced players of golf.

The impact on experienced golfers

What frustrates me so much about Katie’s story is that we should be doing everything we can to unite women in golf – not break them apart. The new handicap system is supposed to be more inclusive, but it does seem to be having the opposite impact at a lot of golf clubs.

And the people it seems to have affected most are the more experienced golfers; the same people who would usually be ambassadors for the game. The ones to take newbies under their wing and facilitate their introduction to golf.

That also ties into what I’ve talked a lot about before; making people feel comfortable. In any setting, if people feel like they belong, feel like they’re welcome … they’ll stay. If they don’t, they won’t. It really is that simple.

How can we expect women to feel comfortable at golf clubs when it feels a bit like a scene from Mean Girls?

We'll be sharing more stories soon ... so watch this space! In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you think. Email me at [email protected].