After a chat with my playing partners yesterday re the impact and pros and cons of the WHS several months into the new system, I decided that I needed some extra data to further my case that the exercise was pretty pointless for club golfers who regularly play medal/competition golf.
I have now played 30 singles "medal" rounds this year over 2 different courses, which seems like a reasonable sample size - probably slightly above the average number for a whole season for regular club golfers who pay on in the Saturday comps and maybe a few midweek medals when the nights are longer.
My Handicap Index started at 6.0, went up to 7.8 at one stage, and is currently 6.2. During that time, I've had Course Handicaps listed between 6 and 9. This supports the view that WHS offers a fair handicap that reflects recent scoring (if not ability...).
I have "mapped" my medal scores in date order using the old system, starting from a base of 6.0. I haven't made any adjustments for occasions where the Competition Standard Scratch may have differed from the SSS (although the CSS was regularly higher than the SSS, particularly off the Championship Tees).
From a starting spot of 6.0, after 7 games (mid-May) I moved up to a 7 handicap, having missed buffer 5 times (early season conditions and all that... ). Since then, I missed buffer 13 times, made 6 buffer zones and had 4 downward adjustments, the latest of which would have brought me down to 6.4. A whole 0.2 of difference over the piece from my current HI of 6.2.
So, what did I learn from this futile exercise??
1 - As someone who plays most of my golf at the clubs I'm a member of (value for money and all that), and maybe plays 10 or 15 games a year at other courses, it's hard to see any meaningful difference between WHS and the old system;
2 - Due to the amount of medal golf I play, my handicap was always pretty honest. It remains so, but under a different set of algorithms;
3 - I'm still coming to terms with the speed of fluctuation in handicap that WHS allows - hence me doing this;
4 - I'm even more inconsistent than I thought I was - some of those Missed Buffer scores were horrendous for someone purporting to be playing off 6 or 7... But then, would I have tried harder on "free hit" days when I might have needed level par over the last 4 or 5 holes to make buffer and/or hope for the CSS to go up?
5 - I've no way of proving this, but my gut feeling is that people playing regular medal golf aren't entering Casual Scores. I mean, why would they? I'd love to see some data from Scottish Golf re the comparative amount of Casual Scores being entered vs scores entered in competitions, however I suspect we'll only be told of this if it suits SGs agenda...
(As a side-bar, I play for a Handicap Team in a league of 6 with home and away matches, and we've now completed about 75% of the matches. Despite WHS supposedly making it fairer handicap-wise in terms of the differentiation between degrees of difficulty of courses, thee have been 10 home wins, 2 draws and 2 away wins in the matches played. Away wins were much more frequent in previous years).