Requiem to the 2016 Golfing Season

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Requiem to the 2016 Golfing Season

OK, requiem may be a little over the top, but the official end of the golf season always makes me a little sad.  Golf Canada sets the Ontario season as April 15 to October 31 and, well, here we are on closing day.  I won’t be playing today and as such my index will remain in single digits albeit precariously so.

It’s been a great and memorable season and I hope the same is true for you too.  Closing day is a good time to reflect back on the year that was.

The bucket list continues to get dwindled down with trips to Tobiano, Salmon Arm, Banff Springs, Stewart Creek and Algonquin to put a healthy dent in the list.  My home province of Ontario is woefully underrepresented and I’ll have to address that in 2017.  Speaking of my bucket list, I have placed a call to followers on Twitter and my FB page for courses to consider adding to my list.  I’ve had about 16 additions and they look sensational.  My goal is to bolster the bucket list to close to 100 courses across Canada.

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What a beautiful day for golf!  A cool, sunny September and first group off at stunning Algonquin Golf Club in St. Andrews By-the-Sea, N.B.

Another great highlight from the year was the chance to tee it up with fellow bloggers and twitter friends.  A spring round in Calgary at the home course of Josh with @golfismental and a summer round with Tiffany @tiffchaisson and @fairwaysfund were memorable highlights.  Playing two private courses as well – Calgary GCC and The Ladies Club were simply a bonus.  But it was the company, spending quality time with two great people that made the experience.

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Tiff, with what may well be the best golfing photobomb shot ever.

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Josh and Mike set to tee it up at historic Calgary GC

I am appreciative of my engagement with the Golf Journalist Association of Canada.  Here, I was able to play with another twitter friend, Jeremy at @meximenno   It was a classy move of Jeremy to fly in from Winnipeg for the GJAC Annual Awards Dinner and Golf Day.  A great round at Beverly Golf Club outside of Hamilton provided the venue for an enjoyable experience with colleagues and friends.

I engaged the amazing services of Herb McNally @McTwentyTwo to develop a new and strong visual identity for 36aday.  Dare I say I have a visual ‘brand’ now.  You may notice a subtle change in my twitter avatar as the logo is now red.  Red will be the off season colour and green will be for golf season.  Thanks for the great work Herb, love it.

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Going with the off-season red until April 2017.

I’m enjoying my continued relationship with Canadian Golf Magazine.  Showcasing my course reviews to a wider national and international audience is something I am very grateful to be able to do.  And while I have yet to tee it up with the Editor, Frank Mastroianni, it is something to look forward to for 2017.

Also, in terms of golf relationships, I am very pleased to be a brand ambassador for Snell Golf Canada.  A true believer in their quality golf balls, I want to help introduce players to these products and allow them to make informed decisions on playing a quality ball at a quality price.  Order online and use 36aday (1-5 dozen) or 36aday6 (6 dozen +) for $2 off per dozen on any orders.  Turns good value into great value.

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My game continues it steady progression.  Working with Brian McCann with Brampton Golf and Country Club has set my game on a firm foundation and allowed me to increase my expectation.  A summer move derailed my playing and practice schedule and my index remained relatively stagnant just below 10.  But recent lessons to maximize my play off the tee raised expectation and help lower scores this fall.  A successful tournament experience at Golf Ontario’s Public Play Championships was a real highlight.

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But my best memory was a quick and casual 9 holes with my Dad at his home course, Oxley Beach outside of Kingsville, Ontario.  I’ll never forget it.  It captures all I love about the game; quality time with people I care about.

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So as the official season comes to an end I’ll continue to play until courses tell me I can’t.  I’ll work on my game and I’ll work on my writing and this blog.  I am grateful for what 2016 provided me and am excited and hopeful for more of the same in 2017!  Best wishes for a safe and healthy off-season.

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 3 – Accomplishments, Public Players, and Augusta

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 3 – Accomplishments, Public Players, and Augusta

A Quick Nine with Scott Simmons, CEO of Golf Canada

@36aday is pleased to introduce interviews with leaders in the game of golf in Canada. Nine questions are presented to probe important issues of the game, personal experiences, stories and insight. Just like 9 holes of golf, I hope you find this enjoyable and that it leaves you wanting more

This closing segment will have Mr. Simmons reflect on accomplishments during his tenure as CEO, how Golf Canada is working to engage the public player and closes with him sharing what would be his ultimate dream round at Augusta National.

  1. What are some accomplishments Golf Canada has had during your tenure that you’re proud of and wish more people knew about?

SS – I’d say the biggest one is we moved our name to Golf Canada from the Royal Canadian Golf Association.  That isn’t just a name change and a logo change.  It is a complete philosophical change which I am very proud of.  The RCGA, which has been around since 1895, the word association, by definition means that we’re associated with a certain group of people and that group historically has been our members – our member clubs and our member golfers.  And that is still critically important to our organization, is working with our member based clubs across the country and providing value to our member clubs and our member individuals, overseeing the game in terms of governance, rules, handicapping, course rating, amateur status, national championships from the Canadian Junior up to the Canadian Open.  All those things that the RCGA did, Golf Canada still do and are core to our mandate.  They are really why who we are.  But Golf Canada, which by extension means we want to provide value and help people enjoy the game of golf regardless of whether they have a direct association with us.  Public players, kids, people of all backgrounds, and this comes with your mandate as the national sport organization for golf in Canada.  That title was given to the RCGA by Sport Canada in 2005/2006.  With accepting that title came the responsibility for the entire game of golf in Canada and not just the association based elements I spoke of previously.  So I see us now as a much more inclusive, proactive entity then we used to be.  We’re still doing exactly what we did for 110 years, we’re now doing more and for more people.

36 – I certainly saw the move as an opportunity to modernize and redefine the brand.  And like you said, expand the scope of activity to engage people who may not otherwise see themselves as being part of the RCGA.

  1. My interest in my blog is to inform public players in Canada about important aspects of golf like courses, travel, equipment and other relevant information. How can public players engage with Golf Canada and what would you tell public players to be the value of joining Golf Canada?

SS – I guess it depends on who you are and what your needs are.  Hopefully we have value and services that would appeal to any type of golfer or facility.  We’re actually evolving that as well from our membership based programs to what’s available for free for the casual public golfer.  So from a facility point of view it’s the ability to have an official course rating, access to the score centre, being an official course of Golf Canada and their provincial body, host championships, give back to the game.  From an individual point of view there is a wide spectrum; those that want to keep an official handicap and compete, compete in national and provincial championships, all the way down to the public golfer where we now have a bronze membership which is free and provides you with some online tools.  We have things like insurance in case you lose your clubs.  We have a new club label system where you put labels on your clubs that have bar codes.  So when the club comes into the shop it can be scanned and you know exactly who they belong to so you can contact them.

36 – Excellent.  I just renewed my membership so I look forward to getting those.

SS – There you go.  I encourage you to look at our website because all the updated membership benefits are listed.

36 – Having been a member now for about 5 or 6 years and in terms of tracking a handicap and being as engaged as I can, I think the organization has done a good job to enhance the value proposition.  I can appreciate the challenge around articulating it but if you look at support around membership helping grow the game, I like the fact that a portion of my money goes back to support the development of the junior game.

SS – That’s where the majority of it does go.  We are a non-profit entity.  We’re an RCAAA (Registered Charitable Amateur Athletic Association).  We’re not here to make big profits and pay dividends to shareholders.  We put all our money back into the game.  That’s the other thing that people who love the game can appreciate.  Whether they’re getting anything in return by supporting Golf Canada and their provincial associations, they’re helping them run and grow the game that they love.  Most successful entities are supported by the athletes and the members.  Sure, we try to do the best we can with government funding and corporate sponsorship, and so on, but the money that comes from the golfers is the difference between good to great for what we can do for the game.  That is the biggest thing people can get from being part of this community is that you’re helping sustain and grow this game that you love.

36 – Well said.  It’s nice to look across all the professional tours and see the Canadian flag up there so prominently.  But between that and the offerings that available for myself as a public player, I want to commend you and your team.  You’re always seeking ways to enhance the value proposition and I’ve enjoyed the experience of membership.

  1. Lastly, and this is a standard question I ask everyone, what is your dream foursome and what course(s) would you like to play?

SS – Boy, there is a lot of people.  My late grandfather introduced me to the game as did my father.  My father is still alive.  He is now 85 and doesn’t play a lot of golf anymore.  I’d love to be able to have my grandfather, my dad and my brother together into a foursome, to play a game and go back to some of the old courses that I played growing up in the Brantford area.  There are so many great courses in Canada and around the world.  I’m not sure I could pick just one.  One course I’d love to have a chance to play is Augusta.  That’s one course that is very hard to get on to but it is on my bucket list.  If I could play that course with my brother, my father and my grandfather, that would be the ultimate for me.

36 – That’s sounds ideal.  I know I have been fortunate to travel with work and play so many great courses coast to coast.  The quality of the courses and the incredible golf value that exists in this country is simply staggering.  Mr. Simmons, I can’t thank you enough for your time.  I really appreciate this.

SS – No problem, my pleasure.  And that last point you made, many people don’t realize that Canada has more golf courses in the world than anybody except the United States.  At 2346 facilities we are the most blessed nation on earth when it comes to access of golf facilities.  Of those 2346 facilities, only roughly 200 of them are private. So the perception of golf being a private, elitist game couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a facility of every type, variety and price for every golfer.  From 9 hole ‘munis’ all the way up to exclusive private clubs and everything in between.  So it’s a very accessible and open sport.

36 – Thank you for the great work you and your team are doing and thank you for your time, it means a lot.

SS – Anytime, I appreciate what you’re doing to promote the industry.

 

Reflections – It was a genuine pleasure to have an hour of Mr. Simmons’ time to learn more about the complexity of their policy decision this winter.  However, the real surprise for me was the genuine passion to which he spoke about initiatives of Golf Canada to grow the game.  His leadership, and the stewardship of Golf Canada in supporting the sustainable development of golf in this country, is sincerely appreciated.  I left the conversation feeling very proud to be a member of Golf Canada.

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 2 – Growing the Game of Golf in Canada

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 2 – Growing the Game of Golf in Canada

A Quick Nine with Scott Simmons, CEO of Golf Canada

@36aday is pleased to introduce interviews with leaders in the game of golf in Canada. Nine questions are presented to probe important issues of the game, personal experiences, stories and insight. Just like 9 holes of golf, I hope you find this enjoyable and that it leaves you wanting more

This is the second part of my conversation with Golf Canada CEO, Scott Simmons, and will close off the handicap policy change discussion, examine the state of the game of golf in Canada and close with a discussion on youth engagement in the game.

  1. While this is not scientific in its data gathering approach, I polled golfers on twitter and almost 70% stated they play occasionally or regularly as a single, a number even higher than I thought. Will Golf Canada still ask players to record scores played as a single, even though it will not count toward their index?  If so, for what purposes?

SS – Well, we won’t ask them to.  But we are trying to be more inclusive in everything we do. There are only a certain percentage of people who want to keep an official handicap.  Yet the key part of understanding whether or not you are improving is the ability to track all your scores, your statistics, if you want to know how many times you make par or hit the fairway off the tee or what you shot.  We want to give every golfer through our score centre the chance to understand their game and manage their statistics.  In the past, and even right now, it’s really just been the only time you would enter anything in our system is to record a score to calculate your official index.  What we’re trying to do is broaden that to serve all golfers.  Obviously a core of that will still be recording official scores for official handicap purposes.  I might be an opinion of one but I would love to see the day where every golfer sees the value in what Golf Canada and the provincial golf associations can provide to them in terms of online tools and digital tools and apps to help them make their experience more fun.  And of course, that is a personal, individual thing.  What would give you more pleasure playing the game is different than me or anyone else.  If we can give you the tools so that you can use the ones that appeal to you I think that’s a big part of us doing our job as the governing body of the game.  So, the short answer to your question is we’re not going to ask people to post their solo rounds but we’d love to give people the ability to post them if they wish to in order to proactively help understand their game better.

36 – That is great. I appreciate your time and that of your office to unpack this policy decision and provide information.  I was a little surprised when this decision (solo round handicapping change) came out because there was not a lot of background information to explain the rationale.  Since then, I have found your office to be quite forthright and I appreciate that.

SS – Well, again, I appreciate your comments.  The reason I am having this call now is you were very respectful in your responses.  You may not agree with us.  We can even admit when we can do things better, and I think in hindsight when you look back we could have done a far better job of communicating this decision.  It doesn’t mean we change our mind.  I stand behind the initial decision and I stand behind the change based on the information that you have at the time when you make each decision.  Could we have surrounded the second decision with more information?  Yeah, in hindsight, absolutely.  Sometimes you don’t see those things until after it happens.  So yes, I wish we had surrounded ourselves with more communication but that is behind us now.

36 – Of course.

  1. Stepping back from issue of handicapping in golf, how would you describe the state of the game of golf in Canada?

SS – I think it is incredibly healthy.  Using the old analogy of looking at things as glass half-full or glass half-empty, here are the facts, you can’t debate them:  Golf is the number one participation sport in Canada.  More people play golf than any other recreational activity; 5.7 million golfers in the last economic impact study that was done. Now that includes everybody from people who 200 rounds a year to the guy or gal who play in the one scramble a year in their company event.  You can sub-set that number and there’s more core and avid golfers than anywhere else in the world except for the United States.  There are more golf courses in Canada than anywhere else in the world with the exception of the United States.  We have the highest per capita participation rate.  It’s a 14 billion dollar business.  It employs hundreds of thousands of people and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to charity.  It is extremely healthy.

Now, does that mean that it doesn’t have its set of opportunities or challenges?  No.  I think what we’re seeing globally, worldwide, is a problem with our youth in terms of inactivity, and child obesity. What’s happening with technology and smartphones and computers has taken away a lot of social interaction so what you’re seeing is that children in general and the younger generation are generally less active than the generation before them.  I think that’s impacting participation across the board in every activity around the globe.  Golf is no exception, so I think the biggest opportunity for golf is to really showcase the tremendous values our game has.  It’s the only game in the world you can play as a family where people of differing abilities can compete with one another.  There are so many different formats and it’s very healthy for you in a non-physical way.  There’s no issues with concussions or risk of injury for the most part.  It’s a very low impact way to keep yourself healthy.  The amount of calories you burn walking 18 holes is significant.  It’s great; doctors prescribe the game to people of all ages, especially seniors.  It teaches us the right values that other sports sometimes have a challenge with.  So, I think golf has to take all the tremendous competitive advantages it has and use them to its advantage to encourage kids and families to participate more.  Instead of that being a problem, which several people have described it as, I see it as a huge opportunity.

36 – I love that language and I think the use of that term (opportunity) is significant because it shows the game with an asset base.

  1. Building from that, my next question is can you share any plans Golf Canada has or its member associations have to address this opportunity for greater youth engagement? Is there anything taking place to help bridge this gap?

SS – Yes, absolutely.  It’s not one thing, it’s an ongoing process.  But in no particular order I will give you a few things.  We’re very proud of the work we’ve done with Golf in Schools.  I don’t know how old you are but whenever I ask this question to an audience, ‘how many of you played golf in phys-ed in public or high school?’ it’s a very small group of people if any that put their hand up.  But everybody has played basketball or volleyball, soccer, track and field, badminton.  So think of how successful our industry is without having any kind of grassroots school involvement.  And think about the opportunity when we’re on an even playing field with other sports and activities at the school level.  About five years ago we launched the Golf in Schools program which is a basic curriculum trying to teach all the core physical attributes but using golf as the medium, whether that’s balance or flexibility.  You’re not really teaching a grade 2 child how to play the game but you’re using plastic golf equipment as the vehicle to teach them physical literacy.  There’s an elementary program, there’s a high school program and a middle school program.  So that can only help, especially when you’ve got 10,000 schools across the country and millions of kids and getting them exposed to the game versus not exposing them at all.

Now connected with that is the Future Links program which is a comprehensive world-class curriculum, staged level process that our good friends at the PGA of Canada use to introduce people to the game and teach them the game from the most basic introductory level up to programming for the elite and high performance competitive people.  The key now – and that program is well embedded in Canada – is to connect the school with the golf course.  As of today, that is probably one of our highest priorities is creating that linkage.  And its working well; there are examples where pros are now making visits to schools, clubs are now making a relationship with schools in their community.  Even private clubs like London Hunt sponsors the Golf in Schools program for all the schools in their London region.

36 – Is that not an initiative that Graham DeLaet has put himself behind?

SS – Yes, Graham is a national spokesperson for our Golf in Schools program.

36 – That’s awesome.

SS – So, we’re doing this in concert with our provincial partners and the PGA of Canada.  The ownership group supports it.  They endorse Golf in Schools and Future Links.  So those are two examples.

Also, in Ontario, for example, they are launching their community initiative.  Barrie is the pilot region where the GAO is being the stimulus to bring all the clubs in that catchment area together and coming up with activities and tools and ways for the community to work together on golf and creating other family programs and initiatives.  There are examples like that from coast to coast.  And it’s only going to grow.  I’ll go back to my earlier point, when you think about how successful we’ve been – as an industry – without proactively marketing to people, and we’re the number one activity in Canada, just think of the possibilities when we proactively start to promote the games benefits and the way for families and kids to engage and have fun, the sky’s the limit.  I could see participation climbing in a significant way by being proactive and strategic with the way in which we try to get more people involved.

 

Tomorrow is the final segment of part of my three-part interview with CEO of Golf Canada, Scott Simmons.  Here, we reflect on accomplishments during his tenure, efforts to engage the public player and his dream foursome.

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 1 – Solo Rounds and Handicapping

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 1 – Solo Rounds and Handicapping

A Quick Nine with Scott Simmons, CEO of Golf Canada

@36aday is pleased to introduce interviews with leaders in the game of golf in Canada. Nine questions are presented to probe important issues of the game, personal experiences, stories and insight. Just like 9 holes of golf, I hope you find this enjoyable and that it leaves you wanting more

This is the first of a three-part interview with Golf Canada CEO, Scott Simmons, and will examine a January 2016 policy decision around Canadian players no longer able to record official rounds as solo players.  This was a change from November 2015, where Golf Canada chose not follow the USGA in their decision around solo rounds no longer counting toward a player’s handicap index.

  1. What changed between November 2015 to January 2016 that precipitated a policy decision reversal on solo round recording toward handicap indexing, especially one that was so positively received by the golf community in Canada?

SS – It’s a long story; I guess the basic thing was we made our decision really in isolation of trying to understand the rationale that the USGA had used.  Things happen quickly, they made their announcement and we had some social media inquiries and our committee met and decided to adopt all of the changes with the exception of the solo round provision.

36 – Ok.

SS – And I don’t think we could have ever anticipated at that time – and I don’t want to speak for the USGA – I don’t think they could have ever anticipated the amount of feedback and emotion that would be behind this.

36 – I know for myself I’m fairly active on social media and the USGA faced a significant firestorm as a result of this.

SS – Yes, and I think what happened around the decision is that it is hard to give people all the insight and background but I think the rationale where the USGA was coming from was perceived to be ‘we don’t trust people who play alone’.  And that was never meant to be the perception.

36 – That was my knee-jerk reaction.  Especially for a game that is grounded in integrity and those kind of values.  It smacked against that.  Now your organization took a couple months and deliberated, I imagine there were some conversations with the USGA, to get to the point where in late January you made a reversal around that original decision.  Is it a decision that you are comfortable with?

SS – Yes, and again even though we work very close with the USGA if you think about handicap and course ratings our systems are not identical.  I will give you two examples: one is in terms of timing.  If you and I go out and play tomorrow and post our scores our handicap factor is updated immediately.  Whereas the USGA still has a two-week waiting period.  So if you and I are both 10.0 factors right now, we go out and play 5 games over a week.  I shoot 100 in every game and you shoot 75 in every game, several days from now we will both be a 10.  But when it updates you will probably drop to an 8 and I’ll go up to a 12.  So instead of real time it’s a two-week lag.  As well, we differed around equitable stroke control. I’m about a 12 (handicap) so under the old system all I could count was a double bogey.  The USGA had a slightly different system where at my level the most I could count was a 7, didn’t matter if it was a double bogey, triple bogey or a quadruple bogey.  In essence, our handicaps are going to be slightly different.  If I go down and play in an event in the States, my handicap hasn’t been computed in exactly the same way the guys in the U.S. have been.  So that presents a little bit of a challenge, or I’d even call it an opportunity.  Time flies, I’m going to say it’s last year or the year before and we changed to adopt the USGA equitable stroke control so now when I can go out the most I can count is a 7.  It is no longer just a double bogey.

36 – I seem to recall that change coming in about a couple years ago, it wasn’t too long ago.

SS – I don’t want to speak for the USGA but I think it is only a matter of time before they change to our system of real time updates.  So again where you think about those two changes, what is the key benefit? Having that alignment especially between the United States and Canada means consistency.  There is so much cross-border golfing and people posting scores, it just makes sense to be consistent with the US.  That said, our committee decided we were going to continue accepting solo rounds.  Then we sat down with the USGA and talked a little more about their rationale, and the key thing is there are six handicap bodies around the world.

36 – Ok.

SS – I don’t think a lot of people know that.  The R and A is not involved in handicapping at all.  There are six bodies: United States, Australia has their own system, Argentina has their own system, South Africa has their own system, the European Golf Union, and then there is CONGU which is the system used in the United Kingdom.  But they are all a little bit different.  And I think there is an aspirational goal to try to create consistent world-wide handicapping, one system.  So if you and I travel to Boston or we go to Singapore or Scotland or South Africa, all of us who are playing the game and keeping an official handicap factor are playing by the same methodology, the same rules I would say.

36 – That’s really insightful.

SS – So in a long rounded way I am going to give you an answer to your question.  The USGA system is the only one in the world that allows solo rounds.  So in an effort towards – and it may or may not happen – an aligned global system, this change was made.  And it was more to be aligned globally and had nothing to do with, ‘we don’t trust you’.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with how handicaps are calculated in the United Kingdom for example, if people play ten casual rounds with their buddies they can’t count any of those scores whether alone a twosome, threesome or foursome.  They have a competition about once a month and you go out and play and those scores are attested and you have one score a month that counts toward your official handicap.   So when you think about our system where you and I can go and play alone or with each other, we count every single game we play.  9 holes, 18 holes.  And I am not saying one is right or one is wrong, I’m just saying look at how different they are.

36 – I appreciate understanding the scope of the systems that are out there.

  1. I’d like to ask more about a world handicap system because shortly after the communication came out from Golf Canada (about the solo round handicap policy change); you sent out some tweets and let people know that part of the rationale is to possibly align to a world handicap system. I am curious to know, Mr. Simmons, what can you share about this?  Is there any timetable for its launch and could implementation result in any other policy changes around handicapping?

SS – Well I wish I could give you a lot of information, answers to that question, but I can’t.  I don’t really know the timetable; I don’t really know what’s been talked about because it has been conversations among the six entities.  I guess from my chair I just want to be supportive.  I am supportive of an international alignment.  And if one step toward that is no more solo rounds than sign me up. Because Canada wants to be part of the international golf landscape and if the rest of the world is moving to an aligned system we want to be part of that.  As far as the timing, I really don’t have any information on that.

36 – I respect that.  So if this is in its early development phase do you see Canada having a voice or seeking a presence around the development of this system?

SS – Ideally that would be fantastic.  I have expressed our desire to help to the various governing bodies and to the USGA, whose system we fall under.  So for Canada, of those six bodies, we fall under the USGA.  We use their computation.  I have expressed to the USGA we would love to help and be involved in any way we can.  I think they are open to that input so I may be able to give you more information down the road if we are in the room having the discussions but right now we are not.

36 – Thank you, I will certainly keep my ear to the ground around any news coming from your office on this issue.

  1. What exactly is the problem this solo round decision is seeking to address and how serious an issue was this for Golf Canada?

SS – I think in isolation it is not a problem.  You mentioned it earlier; it goes back to the essence of the game being a game or honour and integrity.  In talking to the USGA, it was not about trusting people.  But when you think about the unique nature of a solo round versus say a round with peers or fellow competitors, and in fact some people say the reason may be some people don’t understand the rules and may account themselves for a 6 or 7 and maybe were entitled to a free drop and did not need to add a penalty stroke.  I think the whole concept of having peers with you allows you to enjoy the game more and is fair and equitable both ways.

36 – The integrity issue swings both ways between the sandbagger and the person with a vanity handicap.

SS – If you’re a golfer who plays a lot of solo rounds you don’t ever want to be accused of that.  So why not have the games that count toward your official factor be ones where your peers have been with you.  And again, this has nothing to do about trusting people, but boy if you’re a 15 (handicap) and shoot a career best 78 at the member-guest and walk away with all the prizes and no one has ever played with you, you’re only putting yourself in a position where people may question you when everything is legitimate and you’ve counted every stroke and you really did have your career game.  Peer review is so essential in the game of golf.  It really has nothing to do with trust.

36 – I understand.

Tomorrow, the conversation with Mr. Scott Simmons will complete its look at solo rounds; will address the state of the game of golf in Canada as well as opportunities for greater youth engagement in the game.

After Further Review: Let Them Play Golf Alone

After Further Review: Let Them Play Golf Alone

This is what I have found to be the best write-up and critique of Golf Canada’s policy decision regarding handicap scoring for rounds played as a single. Intelligent. Insightful. Well written.

Golf Is Mental

If you play golf, and nobody is there to see it, did it still happen?

November 23, 2015 was a day of reckoning for many golfers who play under the United States Golf Association (USGA). This was the day they announced handicap rule changes that would be implemented for the 2016 season.

The change that caught most of the attention was the one regarding unaccompanied rounds. For the 2016 season, a player cannot go out by themselves to play 18 holes under the Rules of Golf, and post that score to their handicap. Social media exploded, mostly with criticism.

November 24, 2015 was a day golfers in Canada rejoiced. With a series of two tweets, Golf Canada announced they would not be adopting Section 5-1e of the USGA Handicap System Manual, and that scores made while playing alone will continue to count for handicap purposes.

Golf Canada received a lot of praise for this…

View original post 1,546 more words

Golf Canada Reverses Handicap Decision on Solo Rounds

Following the USGA decision on November 23, 2015, that member scores played as a single will no longer count toward their handicap index there was a firestorm on Twitter. The feedback was consistent in its criticism of the USGA. In a blog post I had written the following day, I wrote “the USGA does not trust its public players and it does not care to engage them”. Trust and integrity seemed to be the central themes to peoples’ criticism, only exacerbated by the fact that golf is all about honour and respect.

In Canada, Golf Canada followed up on November 24 with that it would not follow the USGA decision, maintaining its pre-existing policy to allow its players to record scores played as a single. I will admit I felt a strong sense of pride in my association’s decision to take a leadership position to that supports the honesty and integrity of its membership.

Fast forward almost two months to the date and Golf Canada sent a brief three sentence communication stating it has chosen to align its policies to the USGA on this issue. Following this decision, and the disdain from players and media alike, CEO of Golf Canada, Scott Simmons (@golfcanadaguy) sent three tweets out; outlining Golf Canada’s alignment to one system, also stating that ‘recreational’ players will soon have new means to track their performance, and lastly, this decision was made my Golf Canada alone aligning within a world handicap system. With that news, here are some reflections from the perspective of one public player:

1. This was extremely poorly communicated. Canadian golfers should expect more from their national association.

2. Global alignment is well and good but only around a system that respects the integrity of its players. This is a leadership moment lost. I rather see Golf Canada act alone and advocate for a system that respects the integrity of their association members.

3. It is possible Golf Canada buried the lede here? A World Handicap System is a great opportunity to align golfers around the world. But I would argue it’s better to do it right than do it quickly (or at all).

4. Are there no other pressing issues in the game of golf here in Canada, and globally? Environmental stewardship, continuing efforts to grow the game and dialing back the golf ball are three that quickly come to mind. I struggle to understand the root issue driving this decision. Is handicap fixing that large a concern or is the need to align to global handicap policy that important?

5. Engage and advocate for change. I plan to learn why this reversal in decision was made. I want to explore the pros and cons of this, but I struggle to see how I could be convinced that a policy that is not aligned to the values of the game – integrity, honesty and respect – can be embraced as something good for golf.

I look forward to an opportunity to speak with leadership at Golf Canada about this and will share any information I can with you. I am sad that over 30% of my rounds played in 2015 where because of circumstance or a conscious decision to play as single would not count toward my handicap index. The value of my Golf Canada membership seems diminished today.

Mussels, Eagles and Fall Sunshine

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Part of the 15 pounds of seafood we devoured the first night. Set the tone for an awesome week…and my seafood stupor.

I shared daily postcards from my October PEI golf trip and while this fulfilled a bucket list dream trip for me, it has also provided rich content which I will be sharing over the fall and winter season.  Later this month I will begin sharing course reviews for all of the 10 courses played on Prince Edward Island.  For those who can’t wait, I intend to share my posts first on Canadian Golf Magazine.  Here, you can see my first write up for sensational Brudenell River Golf Course.   The trip to PEI was one I will never forget and I’m excited to share over the coming months the diversity of golf options which make it one of the most enjoyable places to visit for golf in Canada.

The golf season is winding down in Ontario and throughout much of Canada.  For those fortunate to live in BC, there are some places which offer year round golf and that must be nice.  My season ended on Sunday and ended in style.  I’ve played golf for 38 years and on my last shot of the year at the executive length Streetsville Glen golf course, I carded my first ever hole-in-one on the 18th hole.  A knock down 8 iron into a stiff wind on the 115 yard final hole made for a memorable celebration and fun afternoon.  First eagle of the season, too.

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Holding up the beat up old Srixon Q Star which found the bottom of the cup.

I will write more about the end of my golf season – it has been an enjoyable and memorable one.  But with weather in Southern Ontario this week hitting 20c a few days in a row, I should approach the Golf Association of Ontario or Golf Canada and learn why the decision is to officially end the handicap season on October 31?  Many players are out this week and I am sure they’d welcome the chance to have their scores count toward their index.  I’d advocate for a change in Ontario to November 15.

After a busy October I am back and will get back on track with more regular posts.  I am considering some new features – expanded opinion pieces and some book reviews.  Thanks for your continued support.

18th at Streetsville Glen from the tee box.

18th at Streetsville Glen from the tee box.