The Hacker: Boosted by another shot in the arm as buffer zone approaches

Armed as I was with new-found confidence for the golfing challenges of 2009, it was a shock to receive a letter last week from my club's handicapping committee announcing that I've been given an extra shot for the new year.

From a playing handicap of 25, I am now raised to 26. Normally, a hacker should be happy with such a gift but I felt miffed. Hadn't they heard of my surge of inexplicable good play over Christmas, which included a net albatross? Didn't they know I'm on the edge of a major breakthrough in my game?

I didn't feel I needed any extra help. It's almost as embarrassing as an old lady offering to help see you across the road.

Then I read the letter again and realised that this didn't originate with the handicapping committee, who are normally a po-faced lot not renowned for their generosity. They were acting under orders from the Council of National Golf Unions (Congu), who have done sterling work in creating a unified handicapping system throughout the UK.

No one has done more for hackers. This was especially so last year when Congu ruled that higher handicappers should get the full differencein competitions, not justthree-quarters as previously.

Now clubs are required to make an annual review of handicaps in the light of a player's performances in monthly medals.

If he plays in five or more and fails to break par or reach the buffer zone – which is four above the standard scratch for the competition – in any of them, he is entitled to a review.

Since I haven't broken 100 in a medal in 10 years, and the only zone I reach is the old buffer zone, my club figured that I qualified for an extra shot. They are also required to give formal notice of the handicap change; hence the letter.

Terry, our lively match captain, is working hard to ensure the new system is fully complied with at the club, which is not easy, because some of the better players are reluctant to embrace concessions to the hackers.

I am sorry to disappoint them but I can see the top limit of 28 having to be increased in the future. Dozens of players I know have seen dramatic rises in their handicaps in recent years under the new system. Players once off 12 or 13 are now off 18 or more, and the more medals they fail in the higher they go.

In a couple of years the worst players will be squeezed up against the upper limit with nowhere to go.

But that's not the way I'm going. My unfaltering ambition is to reduce my handicap. My average medal score during the past few years is 108.32. I should be off 39, not 26. My first task is to play to my handicap, and that means knocking 13 shots off my medal rounds.

I may be an incurable optimist when it comes to my golf but I don't fool myself as to the size of the task ahead.

I'm playing my first competition under my new handicap this weekend in a fourball, with the best three scores on each hole to count.

I intend to make a major contribution, and the extra shot could make all the difference.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Britain's internet habits have been revealed in a new survey
tech
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
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

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style