Handicap has its place

I have been lucky enough to get invited to play in the Youngstown Country Club Member Guest Tournament. As always, I’m sure the staff at Y.C.C. will do a superb job.

During my preparation, I started thinking about handicap and the effect it has on golf competitions.

Let me start that as a plus 3 — I am not a huge fan of handicap. Every time I make a three for four on a difficult par three, I curse the day that handicap was invented.

And as I enter a competition that takes handicap into play, I continue to question the “theory” behind it. But then I start thinking about it.

The truth of the matter is, handicap is one reason why golf is the best sport in the world. Yes, I did refer to golf as a sport, and that could be a debate for a future column.

But honestly, golf is probably the only sport in the world that allows competitors of all age groups and skill levels to play the game as it is intended, and be able to compete in a fair way (pun intended?).

Think about it this way — is there any chance that the New York football Giants would ever play a pickup game against a bunch of retired 60-year-olds? Obviously, the reigning Super Bowl champions would be superior to the retirees when it came to talent.

But even if they wanted to “make it fair,” what would they do? Let the retirees have six downs instead of four? Give points on a 4-1 ratio? They would have to change the game in a way that’s just not plausible.

Golf is different. Golf is the one sport where a former club pro like myself could still go out and compete with a 72-year-old retired engineer or a 45-year-old salesman or a 14-year-old prodigy.

On a personal level, I can remember when my grandfather would take my cousin Brent and me out to Mill Creek Par Three. With a 6- and 10-year-old in tow, my grandfather had enough patience to play an entire nine with us and teach us how to compete at the same time. I got three strokes a hole and my cousin got one.

Over the years, my Poppa taught me a lot on the course — always be aggressive, be confident, picture your shot and always, always give 110 percent.

My Poppa has been gone for more than 10 years now and even though I can’t spot him the three shots my handicap says I should, I’ll always remember the days I was able to compete against him on the course.

And that’s what handicap and golf, is all about.

Jonah Karzmer is a former player at YSU and a member at The Lake Club. He works in insurance when not writing a golf column in The Vindicator. Email him at jkarzmer@farmersagent.com.

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