Cambodian Golf Federation (CGF) advisor Roger Hunt (L) watches as a girl hits a shot of a tee at the CGF’s driving range on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
The Cambodian Golf Federation (CGF) has introduced a national system for male and female handicap golfers of differing skills so that they can compete on a level playing field.
The formal handicap system, which took effect on September 1, followed a co-ordinated effort in its creation involving the CGF and the United States Golf Association. The CGF has now been licensed to use the USGA course rating and handicapping systems within Cambodia.
In building up this system, the Kingdom’s golf governing body spent time and money in getting all the golf courses rated by qualified officials under the USGA Course Rating System.
Explaining the salient features of the new system to the Post, former Australian amateur team captain Roger Hunt, who is currently an adviser to the federation, described it as a major breakthrough leading to increased participation in competitive events.
Under the USGA system, golf courses are rated on effective playing length and playing difficulty under normal conditions.
In a memo to all golf links in Cambodia, Hunt suggested that these facilities should always reflect the USGA course rating and slope rating.
A USGA course rating is the calculated playing difficulty of a golf course for a scratch golfer, the one who has a zero handicap under normal conditions based on the length and obstacles that impact scoring.
A slope rating reflects the degree of difficulty for non-scratch golfers.
Based on the USGA course and slope ratings already determined for the six operating golf courses in the country – three in Phnom Penh and three in Siem Reap – the CGF will assign a handicap index for every player who joins the system as a member at an annually renewable cost of US$50 per year.
“A handicap index will be reviewed at regular two month intervals and may vary according to players scores submitted for handicap purposes,” said Hunt.
A handicap index is given to CGF members after they submit three scorecards with gross stroke scores for 18 holes.
The system will provide each player with a fair course/daily handicap and will regularly adjust the handicap index up or down in keeping with form fluctuations.
In order to maintain a valid and updated index, the federation has notified the players to submit as many completed 18 hole stroke scorecards as possible on a regular basis. Submission of scorecards for both social and competitive rounds are allowed.
A tight recording process has also been put in place. Every golf course will be required to pass on valid scorecards to the CGF for processing. The federation in turn will record all scores and regularly review a players most recent 20 scores, taking out the best eight to work out the handicap differential.
The maximum handicap index is 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women. There is a note of caution that a player’s handicap index would lapse if no acceptable scores are posted within a six-month period, unless there are exceptional circumstances brought to notice and accepted by the CGF.
All the six operating golf courses – Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club, Cambodia Golf and Country Club, Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club, Phokeethra Country Club, Angkor Golf Resort and Angkor Lake Resort Golf Club – come under the purview of this system.
Fixed USGA Course ratings and corresponding slope rating individually for black tees, blue tees, white tees and red tees in each one these golf courses have already been notified.
With the introduction of this system, Cambodian golf has turned a significant corner.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]