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A new handicapping rule has been introduced for members of English golf clubs to stop rogue players manipulating the system to their advantage.

Over recent years there have been a number of cases of players who
protect inflated handicaps, only to repeatedly collect high-value
rewards when playing in competitions away from home.

“We’re not talking about a sleeve of balls,” said Gemma Hunter,
England Golf’s handicap and course rating manager. “These are big prizes
including luxury trips overseas, sets of clubs and electric trolleys.”

It’s essential to do this to protect the integrity of the system

Now, everyone playing in non-qualifying competitions away from home
must return their scores to their home club with players who ignore this
responsibility facing the possibility of having their handicap

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England Golf has introduced this clause of the CONGU handicapping
system to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

“It’s essential to do this to protect the integrity of the system,”
added Gemma. “We can’t sit back and let people manipulate the system,
but without evidence clubs can’t take any action.”

The new system will highlight players who, for example, take part in
as many competitions as possible at home and whose handicaps creep up
0.1 on every occasion – but who repeatedly win prizes away from home.

Similarly, it will show up the players who play the bare minimum of
competitions at home, but who are known for their away successes.

It applies to all strokeplay scores returned under competition
conditions, including team events. “It’s not about recording every score
in a fourball betterball, but returning the team score,” said Gemma.

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“If the same individuals or teams keeping winning or coming near the
top of leaderboards at events away from home, that should at least
indicate to their club handicapping officials that further
investigations are required – and the only way to achieve that is by
asking for all the scores to be reported.”

Social golf is not affected, but clubs are advised to be aware of
performances in swindles which the handicap committee could take into
account at the annual review.

England Golf also recommends that clubs which run non-qualifying open
competitions should inform the prize winners’ home clubs of their

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