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March towards the World Handicap System is coming to an end

GOLF By Vincent Wang'ombe | January 29th 2021
Karen Golf & Country Club was voted the Best Golf Course in Africa during the 7th Annual World Golf Awards Gala Ceremony held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 2, 2020.[Mose Sammy, Standard]

When out rating the Kenya Airforce Golf Club, I could not help but notice that whenever a group of uniformed soldiers were walking together, they always seemed to march.

It was very interesting to see that even the ones who were in pairs, talking casually, always fell in step. At one point, while discussing how a bogey golfer was expected to play the seventh hole, I inadvertently stood near a nest of safari ants and a couple of soldier ants walked up my trousers.

The attack from the soldier ants was synchronised as they all bit at the same moment.

I came very close to dropping my trousers in order to remove the biting soldiers. It was at that point I realised that there is magnificence and efficiency in doing things in an orderly manner.

The marching Airforce soldiers were very pleasant to watch while the safari ant soldiers got me out of the vicinity of their nest very quickly.

This is the same message Ben Omuodo, the chairman of the Kenya Golf Union gave at a press conference at Muthaiga Golf Club yesterday; the introduction of the World Handicap System in Kenya will be done in a coordinated way.

There are those who suggested that it would be easier to get the Nairobi clubs on the World Handicap System in August last year. After all, the Nairobi golfers are more than two thirds of the golfers in Kenya, they argued.

When the Kenyan government placed a lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19, it seemed like a plausible argument.

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However, the Union insisted on delaying the onset of the World Handicap System.

A photo of Muthaiga Golf Club. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Now that all golf courses in Kenya have been rated and all golfers handicap records shared with the software company that was selected to implement the system for Kenya, we have another bump in the road.

The Chairman of the Kenyan Course Rating Review Committee, Rosemary Dolan, discovered some inconsistencies in the results that we were getting for Kenyan clubs.

The system that is used worldwide for course rating belongs to the United States Golf Association (USGA).

As I have written in the past, in rating a course, the team looks at difficulty of the course based on the landing zones of the scratch and the bogey golfer.

There are set distances the men and women scratch and bogey golfer hit their first and second shots and this is how the landing zones are determined. The distances are adjusted with the rise in altitude.

The higher you go, the longer the shots get on account of thinner air. The USGA system had taken into account this adjustment for all except the woman bogey golfer.

The reason being that the woman bogey golfer does not hit the ball high enough to get the same effect.

In Dolan’s analysis, she first realised that as a result, the women slope rating in many courses in Kenya was inordinately higher.

After a lot of emails, the USGA and The R&A teams agreed that she was onto something. A few weeks ago, the USGA came up with a formula to fix the error.

As things stand, the data for all men and the five coastal clubs is ready to get onto the World Handicap System.

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