with Robert Bicknell
Ah, the things one can find on the internet if one is a dedicated columnist, or a screaming mental case. I leave it to my (ahem) loyal readers to decide as they choke on their morning coffee.
Apparently a 75-year-old pensioner stands at the centre of a 10m Euros lawsuit against his former golf club, which he claims damaged his reputation by lowering his handicap.
Yes, you read that correctly.
It seems that the Hermitage Golf Club in Dublin (Ireland) had the audacity to lower a certain Mr Thomas Talbot's handicap by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004, and now he wants 10m Euros in damages.
He is suing both the club and Eddie Murphy, its former handicap secretary, in the High Court for defamation. I find the club secretary's name in this story to be highly ironic as the entire episode is more comedic than the actor of the same name's last few movies.
The club says that under GUI Rule 19 it had to reduce his handicap if it believed it was too high relative to his ability.
OK, the bottom line is that Talbot alleges a cumulative reduction of his handicap by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004 was tantamount to being branded a cheat.
To which my first automatic thought was, "…and your point is…?"
Look, seven strokes over a period of five years is hardly earth shattering. Heck, I've cut people's handicaps by that much in a single year and there were times I was tempted to do it in a single month!
I remember a supposed 25 handicapper who won not only the Best Net but also the Best Gross awards in a tournament by shooting a gross score of 77. Do the math, his NET score was 52 and he walked up to accept the award with absolutely no shame whatsoever.
His scores the next week were back to 25 over par, but during a money game a few weeks later, he shot 78, just good enough to win the bets. Whatever he needed to shoot to win the bets, that's what he shot. Never one shot more or less.
He was given two choices, accept a massive handicap reduction, or be scored via Callaway system for all upcoming tournaments during the remainder of the year.
He ended up refusing to post his handicap at the club and stated submitting cards to another club (who were tipped off to the antics of their newest member)
Imagine his surprise when his first handicap at the new club was five.
After screaming about it to the management, he was politely informed that scores from tournaments at other clubs were automatically applied to his new handicap computation.
Funny, we never saw him in any tournaments again.
That is what happens to cheats, but I hardly see how Mr Talbot can claim what the club did to him was injurious to his reputation.
Look, a handicap is variable like the weather. You can have a great month and your handicap drops a few points. Very acceptable and many players actually take great delight in seeing all their practice, lessons and hard work reflected in their new handicap.
The only people who scream like someone is stealing their children when the handicaps are posted are the ones who make money from having a higher handicap. Yes, they are manipulating their scores to maintain a higher handicap and occasionally get caught.
Once, a player from a neighbouring club who shall remain nameless (both the player and the club) presented a handicap card at a tournament which was dated eight months earlier and, of course, it was not honoured because a lot can happen in that amount of time. How can anyone be sure the guy didn't take a massive amount of lessons during that time?
Anyway, he was scored via the Callaway system and, funny enough, if we had honoured his handicap, he would have easily won the event with a net score of 55. Yup, seventeen under par.
Players need to not only check their handicap for accuracy, but also keep an eye on their friends and other members' handicaps as well.
The reason we post handicaps publicly is called "peer review" which simply allows all the other members to keep an eye on their friends.
Play fair, don't cheat. — VNS