Why I Regret Entering Every Scorecard This Year

I've entered every scorecard this year, but my new lower index gives me little chance against the higher handicappers

Golfer hits a shot with a graphic overlayed
(Image credit: Future)

For the entire 2022 golfing season I’ve entered every single scorecard that I could. Anything that wasn’t a club knockout match has been entered into the My England Golf app and counted towards my handicap.

I’ve entered 48 scorecards at 19 different courses and have seen my handicap index fall from 4.3 to 1.7. I originally began entering cards in 2021 after being annoyed at how low my index was and wanted it to be more reflective of my actual ability - safe to say I wasn’t playing very well.

Entering cards has stuck and this year I’ve taken pride in holing out every putt, keeping a score together and I ultimately love the feeling of getting my card attested and then waiting until the next morning to see what it has done to my index. It’s so impressive to see how golf is moving with the times, and I now find myself very rarely even using a paper scorecard outside of competitions.

In my regular four ball, however, I am a minority when it comes to using the World Handicap System how - in my view - it was designed to be used, and I genuinely don’t think many golfers at my club, and most golf clubs too, are regularly putting in scores for their handicap index. Golfers probably don’t fully understand how it works and are scared of their handicaps rising. “I’m not going to put a card in today as I’m a bit hungover” or “I’m not playing very well at the moment.” This is not how the system was designed, with just eight of 20 scores counting, it means that 12 can be completely ignored. The WHS was a huge change and unless you use it properly, handicaps will range from accurate to sort-of-accurate to old and outdated.

Having entered all my scorecards, I must have a handicap index reflective of my ability. I play off of 2 around my home course on the whites, whereas had I not put in any cards this year I’d be playing off of 5 with my original starting index of 4.3. My regular playing partners, in my opinion, are playing from inflated indexes, because they rarely put scorecards in, and then also get inflated course handicaps due to the course rating and slope rating.

This means that I’m having to give more shots in casual match play games, and it’s starting to wear on me. A few years ago we all played off of our ‘handicaps’ and gave 75% to the higher handicaps. Now we all play from our ‘course handicaps’ and give 90% to the higher handicappers. 

I do play a lot of four ball better ball, but I’m starting to lose interest in the brilliant format. I simply need to put a great round together to even come close to winning a match. I'm definitely noticing that I'm losing a lot more matches by very large margins, regularly finding myself four-or-five down early in the back nine.

I’ve clearly played decent golf this year to get my handicap down to 1.7, which included my first ever under par round, yet in that time I’m struggling to remember more than one victory in my many four ball better ball games - and that victory was in most part thanks to my 31 index partner who was getting 28 shots off of me.

In my usual society weekend away I lost 5&4 despite shooting a half decent score where I made eight pars in the first 15 holes - although none of the pars won me a hole, and a few of them lost me holes. When I think about it, it’s the same story for almost every match I play.

I recently had a round that included 12 pars and I won only one hole, all the while my higher handicap opponents were winning hole after hole with pars. Pars are essentially meaningless in four ball match play for lower handicaps, as most of the time one of your opponents will make a par with a shot and take the hole from you or at least bogey with a shot to halve. Lower handicaps essentially have to play very well to halve holes and have to play out of their skin to win a match if a higher handicapper plays to their handicap.

Should we go back to a 75% difference, or perhaps play match play off of our indexes instead of course handicaps? Either of those would at least help. Another way to help could be to enforce that all rounds must be entered for handicap purposes to ensure that all handicaps are accurate.

Do I regret entering every scorecard this year? Deep down, no, because I take pride in my index. But it has come at a serious cost as it’s clear that the World Handicap System favours the higher handicap players who routinely get an extra 2-5 shots per round opposed to zero for lower handicaps. I'm not even thinking about winning monthly medals and stablefords, those days are long gone.

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