Should each and every round of golf we play count?

Would our handicaps be more reflective of our abilities if we always had to mark a card? Or is social, informal ‘friendly’ golf still too important a part of our enjoyment of the game to let go?
It is a question that has been put into sharper focus by the move towards a World Handicap System. On a golfing vacation in Dubai last year, I was surprised to learn that our resident hosts had to register every score they returned. A similar system operates in the USA. It seems to be heading our way.
My own club has recently increased the number of qualifiers to include all roll-ups but there is still an opt-out choice on the first tee. Some complain that the initiative has slowed play with everyone forced to putt out, others simply prefer the stick-or-twist challenge of the kind of go-for-it golf that is encouraged by a matchplay duel against good mates for a precious fiver.
I know the range is the correct place to practise swing changes but I also like to experiment a little on the course when time and company allow. A good ‘mulligan’ can teach you a lot. I enjoy the nervous buzz of a ‘counting’ round, I find a different mindset and intensity when my card is in someone else’s back pocket.
Handicaps are one of the great wonders of golf. They promote a unique kind of competition between young and old, men and women, good and erratic. No golfer worth their salt doesn’t want to get their handicap down. A cut is both the kindest and unkindest cut of all. I prefer to keep qualifiers as special occasions, ‘our’ tournament rounds.
Any thoughts?


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