No hiding place for handicap cheats - GUI
The Golfing Union of Ireland is to investigate ways of ensuring that the qualification criteria for the national AIG Cups & Shields events are not abused by handicap cheats.
Pat Finn, CEO of the Union, reiterated the governing body's intention to change the culture of tolerance in relation to golfers who build handicaps.
March is Handicap Awareness Month, operating under '#TheFairWay' campaign banner, and after just two weeks, the response from clubs and golfers has been positive.
The word 'cheat' is emotive but highlights the actions of golfers who operate in the 'nod and wink' culture of letting their handicap drift to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors.
Finn explained the cultural nuances that have prevailed up to now.
"If somebody purposely arranges for their handicap to be 12 when it should be ten, by definition they have a two-shot advantage over the field before they start, and they've done that in a sort of pre-meditated way," he said.
"Before this campaign, would the same person change a six to a four on a scorecard?
"No chance. Absolutely no chance, because that would be considered cheating, but playing off ten instead of 12 is not considered cheating, yet it's the same end result.
"There was a little bit of 'it's part of the game, it's accepted, sure everybody's at it' which is obviously untrue.
"I'm not claiming everyone's at it, but there was a bit of that mentality going on whereby people could justify their own behaviour.
"From this point onwards nobody can justify this kind of behaviour."
At national level, particularly in the higher handicap events such as the Pierce Purcell Shield and the Jimmy Bruen Shield, the Union will look at the eligibility criteria to try and ensure a level playing field for all clubs.
Currently a player has to have played four singles events in his club in the previous calendar year to meet GUI requirements.
One suggestion being considered is to require four cards to be returned and that they must be good scores, not, for example, three cards that ensure 0.1 back each time and one in the buffer zone.
Finn describes that as an "interesting" idea, and said: "I would invite anyone who has ideas as to what we might do to let us know them.
"We're not saying we've done it all and we're not prepared to do more. We've thought about it an awful lot, and we're getting in some really good suggestions as part of this campaign and we'll look at them all."
The CEO was speaking at GUI headquarters yesterday where an exclusive apparel and footwear deal with Under Armour was announced.
Jordan Spieth's clothing and footwear sponsors are to kit out GUI teams for the next three years. The Irish will be the only country in Europe sponsored by the company.
That means that the first Irish golfers to step into Spieth's shoes - at least the "Spieth One" brand that carries his name - will be the European Nations Cup team which plays in Sotogrande, Spain, from March 29-April 1.
The team is: Stuart Grehan (Tullamore/MU); Alex Gleeson (Castle/UCD), Robin Dawson (Tramore/MU), and debutant Kevin Le Blanc (The Island/MU).
Finn said: "These players are among the best in the world and they deserve to have the best of clothing as they take to the fairways."