England Golf To Crack Down On Bandits

England Golf have introduced a new handicap rule in a bid to eradicate dodgy handicaps

England Golf To Crack Down On Bandits

England Golf have introduced a new handicap rule where all away competition scores must be entered to the player's home club in a bid to eradicate dodgy handicaps

England Golf To Crack Down On Bandits

England Golf, the governing body for amateur golf in England, has introduced a new handicap rule to combat bandits.

They have said that there have been a number of cases in recent years where players protect their handicaps so they can 'repeatedly collect high-value rewards when playing in competitions away from home'.

Related: How do I get a handicap?

“We’re not talking about a sleeve of balls,” said Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s Handicap and Course Rating Manager.

“These are big prizes including luxury trips overseas, sets of clubs and electric trolleys.”

From now on when a golfer plays in a non-qualifying competition away from their home club, the player must return their score to their home club.

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If this is ignored, golfers may have their handicap suspended.

Proposed changes in the rules of golf for 2019

The new system should catch out those who are known to win prizes in away competitions yet regularly go up 0.1 in club competitions.

Related: How are handicaps adjusted?

In the same way it should highlight those who play a minimum amount of competitions at their home club and often win on the road.

It applies to all strokeplay scores returned under competition conditions, including team events.

“It’s not about recording every score in a fourball betterball, but returning the team score,” said Gemma.

Related: Golf's 90% handicap allowance and more...a ready reckoner

“If the same individuals or teams keeping winning or coming near the top of leaderboards at events away from home, that should at least indicate to their club handicapping officials that further investigations are required – and the only way to achieve that is by asking for all the scores to be reported.”

Social golf will not be affected in the changes, but clubs have been asked to look out for low scores in swindles and roll-ups which the handicap committee could take into account at the annual review.

England Golf also hopes that clubs who run open competitions will inform the prize winners’ home clubs of their scores.

Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x