Our Golf League - Changing the Game

Golf is the most popular individual sport in the UK, and it is easy to see why. Bobby Jones was one of the most influential figures in American golf history, and said it best: “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots–but you have you have to play the ball where it lies.”

Our golf league is different to perhaps any other league or competition in the world for a few reasons. Perhaps the most striking feature is that we don't use the handicap system. Why did we decide it this way? Lets take a look at the history of the handicap first.

According to Wikipedia, the earliest record of golf handicapping is thought to be from the early 17th century in a diary kept by Thomas Kincaid in Edinburgh, Scotland. Although the word handicap was not used in golf until the 19th century. The number of strokes to be given and the holes on which they would be in effect was negotiated between competing golfers prior to the start of play. According to The Golfer’s Manual by Henry Brougham Farnie, examples of agreed terms included “third-one” (one stroke every three holes), “half-one” (one stroke every two holes), “one more” (a stroke a hole) and “two more” (two strokes a hole). During the late 19th century, taking the difference between the average of a golfer's best three scores during the year and par became the most widely used method of handicapping in England and Scotland. As the sport grew, so did discontent with the fairness of handicapping, with less proficient players being particularly unhappy as it was much less likely for them to play to the standard of their three score average. Another issue was the lack of consideration in the system for the varying difficulties of different courses which meant the handicap was not very portable. You can find the rest of the history here.

Let me explain how our golf league works. We use a different system of scoring, which we love, and its very simple to understand. Within each of our locations, we can have multiple divisions. We use a player's handicap to decide what division to place them in. We usually allow a maximum of 9 players in any one division and a minimum of 4 players.

The matches themselves are played off scratch. It is similar to a matchplay format, and though the scoring is slightly different, it is relatively simple. If you win a hole against your opponent, you get 1 point, and if you tie or lose the hole, you get 0 points. You will also play all 18 holes, regardless of whether or not one player has already won. A draw is also possible by the the end of the round. Here are some examples of recent score lines in our Medway league.




The scoreline at the end can really be anything from 0-0 to 18-0 (though we hope not). This may be hard for some people to become accustomed to, and it is natural to be resistant to change. After all, as we've established, the handicap rules of golf date back over 300 years. However, it is always good to keep innovating and asking questions about how we can make our competitions and sports better. We've seen how successful the new 20/20 format of cricket has been for example.

Those that have played in our golf league have had only positive things to say:

Bill Cherry (Medway) - "Played both the winter and summer league in the golf now 🏌️‍♂️, And all I can say is it’s fantastic, I’ve met some pukka lads from all different walks of life and made some great life long mates. If you struggle to get a game when you want one some times, and fancy meeting new people, honestly I couldn’t recommend this league anymore. Thanks again Elliot".

Matthew Payne (Medway) - "Golf league. It was amazing, great group of lads. Never done something like this before and it was nice to actually have an incentive to play well. Great way to find new people to play with".

Reece Foxon (Clapham) - "I love the fact the golf league is played off scratch, it means there is absolutely no controversy. Nearly all the competitions at clubs use the handicap system, and some players definitely exploit that. Theres no hiding in this league, the divisions are sorted by ability anyway, so the games are generally close, and I've been playing since it started 2 years ago, and the more players that join, the more the league has improved. Other golf comps could definitely learn a thing or two from EJMSL"

Reece's point is a great one. I know people that can get frustrated in some club competitions, with some people not being totally honest about their handicap. There is no confusion in our league. Shock results do happen too, as we've seen a 21-handicap player beat a 10, and a 33 player beat a 20.

The other key part of our golf league is the social side. You don't just have to go out and play 1 match against another player. You can play a 4 ball and get 3 matches done in one round! Making it incredibly social, you might even make some life long new friends. Also remember, as with all our leagues, you can arrange to play your matches at any course, any time. Giving our league a 10/10 for flexibility.

Not tried out golf league yet? if you're near Clapham, London or Medway, Kent, give it a go! You can sign up here.

Hope you enjoyed our new blog, we'll leave you with this classic video from our Verbier golf league 2 years ago.

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