• Alistair Tait

The 12 Golfers of Christmas – The Handicap Cop


Welcome to another Christmas series highlighting characterisations of golfers we’ve all played with over the years. The series proved so popular last year I’ve decided to repeat the exercise this Christmas, too.


Once again, I obviously pre-wrote these so I don’t have to write my daily blog over the holidays. Still no flies on me. In other words, I’m currently incommunicado enjoying time with my family; eating and drinking too much; and taking long walks, sadly without Izzy in tow.


Oh, Izzy. Merry Christmas my big lassie. Still miss you big time.


3. The Handicap Cop


Despite what the professionals tours think, the subjects amateur golfers discuss most often don’t concern the world of professional golf. Sure, it’s a topic of conversation, especially during major championships, the Ryder and Solheim Cups, etc. No, amateur golfers talk more about things that concern them, their game, their club.


Slow play, green/subscription fees, course conditions/issues, and handicaps are of more concern to the ordinary golfer than the bun fight going on between the PGA and European Tour versus the supposed “disruptors” from Saudi Arabia and a proposed new golf league.


Arguably no subject can create quite the stushie as handicaps can, especially now that the new World Handicap System is in force. And every golf club, every golf group, is not short of handicap cops, those people ready to jump all over fellow golfers if they think a player’s handicap isn’t accurate, as in anyone playing off an inflated index.


Most of us mid handicappers have a fair degree of latitude when it comes to how we play on any given day. It can vary by 5-10 shots depending on how the stars are aligned. Play better than your index and the handicap cops will be on you as fast as you can say The Open. They'll make you feel as guilty as if you'd committed murder.


Isn’t it funny how they never jump all over you if you play worse than your handicap?


The word “bandit” might just be hurled in your direction. Maybe“sandbagger?” Both words perhaps accompanied by a good old Anglo Saxon adjective.


As someone who’s been single digit but who's now into the teens, my handicap rising as my weight does during the Christmas period, I’ve had my share of oaths hurled in my direction. Sometimes I hit shots like that single-digit handicapper, on other occasions I’m the spitting image of Maurice Flitcroft.


Many of us have hit a perfect drive down the first hole, knocked a mid iron to three feet, holed a bunker shot or pitched a ball stiff only for someone in the fourball to utter the incriminating, eye brows raised words.

“X handicap, huh?”

I once played in a fourball better ball with three friends, one a former captain. My partner and I easily won the match, thanks to his better play and much to the ex-captain’s chagrin. Said former club captain harangued my partner on nearly every hole on the back nine with lines like:

“If I was still captain you be cut two shots tomorrow!”
“I’m going to have a word with handicapping secretary to get you cut, mate!”

It was embarrassing. My poor partner was playing the round of his life and the one-time captain was making him feel guilty about it. We won 3&2 but I wish I’d just said:

“Do you know what? If you feel this hard done by then we concede. You can stick your match up your jaxie!”

I didn’t, but I did give him a few choice words at the end of the round, along the lines of your behaviour is not becoming of a former captain of this club.


Mind you, that’s not to say there aren’t bandits in every club. The majority of golfers are as honest as St Andrews is old, faithfully handing in cards on a regular basis, especially with the new WHS. However, every club has players who manipulate the system. I recall one being booed at a captain’s dinner many years ago when he collected an armful of trophies for multiple competition wins over the year.


And just as bandits exist, so do handicap cops. They love to berate fellow members if they play better than their index. Worse, they sometimes publicly castigate a player in the bar afterwards, and even petition for the player's handicap to be cut within the swindle group.


Handicap cops. They should wear a sheriff’s badge on their golf shirts. Upset them at your peril.


#JustSaying: “What’s my handicap? My clubs…” Anon

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