Simplified golf rules and global handicaps could be just around the corner

Your handicap could soon be officially recognised all over the globe.

John Paul Newport’s golf articles at the Wall Street Journal are always worth a read and his most recent piece is no different.

Newport reports on the early discussion between the golf’s ruling bodies the R&A and the USGA, on creating a more streamlined, simpler set of golf rules, as well launching as a uniform, global handicapping system.

“Shorter, simpler and less legalistic is the goal,” Bodenhamer said. If successfully completed, the new rules code would roll out in the same time frame as the World Handicap System and make extensive use of pictures, graphics and new modes of presentation using modern technology. The underlying principles would remain fundamentally the same, but the rules themselves would look and feel entirely different.

In addition to the new take on the rules, it sounds like the USGA are leading a push for a universal handicapping system that would bring all the very different sets of handicapping into one.

“The handicap system is effectively a fourth set of rules,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s point man for the initiative. Not all golfers keep a handicap, of course, but for those who do the score-posting requirements enforce a rules-like discipline. Yet those rules deviate from country to country. “We feel it would benefit the game enormously, and add to its enjoyment, if golfers everywhere had a single, portable handicap number that worked the same wherever they traveled,” Bodenhamer said.

We’ve heard that the USGA has watched with great interest the recent roll out of the new handicapping system into Australia – particularly the adjustments that have needed to be made for our unique golfing environment, one that is very different to golf played in the US, for example.

While I assume this is not necessarily something that golfers are crying out for, in the age of the internet and when many golfers are making international golf trips, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to implement. Should it?

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