A crackdown on “handicap cheats” is under way as two national golfing bodies bid to stop club players manipulating the system in order to win lucrative prizes in amateur events.
Culprits are being warned their handicap could be suspended as action is taken in response to “public concerns” about handicap cheating in the game.
The campaign to stamp out the problem is being led by the Golfing Union of Ireland and Irish Ladies Golf Union, with England Golf also vowing to get tough.
Scottish Golf is set to “monitor” a new rule being introduced south of the Border before deciding if a similar measure is required, claiming that is not the case at present.
It is well known that some amateurs take part in as many competitions as possible at their home club and do so mainly to see their handicap go up 0.1 on every occasion by finishing outside the buffer zone. Using an inflated handicap, they then enter open competitions at other clubs and win some incredible prizes thanks to the rules on the monetary value permitted in amateur events having been relaxed back in 2011.
“There is a culture of tolerating handicap cheating which isn’t the case for other forms of cheating within golf,” says Pat Finn, chief executive of the GUI which, in tandem with the Irish Ladies Golf Union, is running an innovative month-long #TheFairWay campaign in March in a bid to educate players and clubs alike.
“The finger seems to be pointed at the GUI or the branches of the GUI or indeed to club committees to deal with this problem. I don’t think it can be. It is endemic and the only real way of tackling it is at member-to-member level where everybody takes a proactive approach in dealing with the issue and calling out fellow members on their behaviour and saying it is not going to be tolerated anymore.”
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