Morri: Pity the plus handicap player

Spare a thought for your plus-marker playing partner.
Every now and then the golf Gods conspire to pair one with a good player.

You know the type: solid swing, good short game, reliable putter. Lots of tap-in pars and the occasional birdie sprinkled in for good measure.

Many of us who reside in the world of double-digit handicaps find ourselves envious of these gifted people but this is a temptation we must resist.

What the really good amateur actually needs - in fact deserves - is our pity. Let me explain.

Imagine for a moment you play off a plus handicap, let’s say plus three.

Like all dedicated golfers, you spend much of your week waiting for Saturday to roll around so you can escape to the course, leaving all the worries of work and home behind.

Sure you might dedicate a little more time and effort between rounds to honing your game but the anticipation of the weekly hit is something all of us, regardless of age or gender or handicap, share.

You wake to a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold, a tee time with your favourite group awaiting and enough breeze to make the game interesting.

But you can take no joy in any of this because before you even load the clubs in the car or leave the house, you’re 3-over.

That’s right, before you get out of the shower you know you need three birdies just to get back to level pegging, let alone start thinking about beating your handicap.

What a miserable existence this must be.

Contrast that nightmare scenario with how the rest of us experience that same Saturday morning.

While chewing on breakfast, we might give some brief consideration to the fact we can bogey the first four holes and still have shots to play with.

Double the fifth? No problem, that’s a point and still plenty of shots in hand and time to make up the deficit.

Just a couple of lucky swipes and you might pick up a four-pointer at the next to not only get back on track, but ahead of the game.

And if you do, spare a thought for our plus three friend for whom the joy of a four-pointer is a long ago distant memory.

It resides in the dark recesses of the mind alongside winning the Wednesday comp, or any stableford comp for that matter.

40-point rounds? We might have five or six a year but our talented friend will be lucky to have five or six a decade.

Once a month, the plus-marker has a chance to shine when the format is real golf and all the putts have to be holed.

Yes, the Monthly Medal gives the real players their moment in the sun but the rest of the time they know they’re playing for the minor placings because, ironically, they’re too good to have a genuine chance to win.

The really good amateur lives in an in-between world: not good enough to make a living at the game but too good to have to share the course with the likes of us.

It was this realisation of what being good would mean that convinced me not to bother.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy doing things other than practise golf or take lessons and it has ended up paying big dividends.

Like a true double-digit player, I get to lament the fact I’m not better at the game while simultaneously not actually doing anything about it. Bliss!

So next time you see one of the better players at your home club, take a moment to sympathise with them.

In the unlikely event they are in the bar rather than at the chipping green, consider buying them a drink.

For it is them, not us, who are the real victims of this game.



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