Hacker: At last, time for golfers on the fringes to enjoy the fairer way

'Hackers of the world unite – we've nothing to lose but our balls.' That's the title of a book I've been intending to write for some time, but it will do as a clarion call for the time being.

Fated to plough a lonely divot on the outskirts of the game, unsung and uncared for, we hackers haven't had a lot going for us through the years. But our cause has been championed by a bunch of white knights who go under the name of Congu.

Governing bodies in sport don't usually attract praise but Congu, whose task since 1924 has been to direct scoring and handicapping systems at clubs in Great Britain and Ireland, decree that lower-handicap golfers haven't been giving enough strokes to higher-handicappers when they play them.

Confirming golf's reputation as the most honest of all games, Congu have decided that instead of giving three-quarters of the difference, the better players should give the full difference.

Considering that those making this decision are low- handicappers themselves, it was a brave call, and one that has resulted in a controversy that has been chronicled in this column over several weeks.

There have been heated arguments in clubs throughout the country – and, as my colleague Sue Montgomery revealed in this space last Sunday, among the lady golfers too – with indignant golfers refusing to enter singles knock-out competitions because they don't think it is fair to have to give extra shots to opponents.

Terry Marston, the competition secretary at Perivale Park golf club, is one of the latest to email me on the subject. He writes: "They are saying that it is almost impossible for a five- handicapper to give 18 shots to a 22-handicapper and have any realistic chance of winning unless he plays out of his skin."

But the Congu men I spoke to are convinced that after their long study of playing statistics the three-quarters allowance was "enormously favourable" to the lower-handicappers, and that even the full allowance still favours the better player.

One of the main architects of the new decree is Bill Mitchell of the Scottish Golf Union, who has been a single-figure handicapper for most of his playing career. "I once won our singles matchplay championship for five years out of eight and I felt then that the three-quarters allowance was unfair," he says.

"Since then I have studied it in many ways and over many years, and if you accept that the object is to give everyone a fair chance there is not a decent counter-argument against giving the full allowance."

Hackers everywhere should appreciate the work that has been done on their behalf, but the battle is by no means over. Most clubs still operate an 18-handicap limit. Although Congu say it is against the spirit of the system they are reluctant to interfere in club traditions.

It is up to hackers to keep fighting this at their clubs. If they are not allowed to play in competitions with their officially recognised handicap, they should demand a reduction in their annual subscriptions.

If you want an idea of what proportion of the subscription hackers should pay, how does three-quarters sound?

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum