The USGA recently announced that starting on Jan. 1, rounds played as a single cannot be used for handicap purposes. The USGA reasons under Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores that “this change underscores the importance of providing full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability, and the ability of other players to form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a posted score.”

Is trust being questioned in what is supposed to be considered a game of honor? We asked several JC Golf pros to weigh in on the decision. Here’s what they said:

“I think it’s unfortunate. The game of golf has always been a sport of integrity. I am not quite sure how the USGA is going to regulate this rule. People that cheat the system are always going to cheat the system.”

Curtis J. Rowe, Director of Golf, Temecula Creek Inn

“I see both sides. I think for the tournament golfer it’s wonderful because you can’t go out there without some kind of backup to validate your score. But for the beginner I think it’s horrible. We have a grow-the-game initiative and want beginners to feel welcome and establish a handicap. My fear is this will hinder a beginner to come out and play. Golf is challenging enough and now this could be an excuse for the beginner to say, ‘It’s not worth it.’”

Blake Dodson, General Manager, Encinitas Ranch

“Golf is a great game. It can be enjoyed with buddies, colleagues, business partners, clients or alone. There is something about being on the golf course by yourself. No distractions, no waiting, only you and the course can be a peaceful and sometimes spiritual experience. Golf also is a game of honor and most people that play this game understand that, and play with honor, but there are some that don’t. This rule change is not going to stop those who already sandbag their handicap or shave strokes to lower their handicap. It will only hurt the honest golfer who enjoys playing alone.”
Brandon Delgado, Head Golf Professional, Carmel Mountain Ranch

“I don’t like the ruling. In the beginning of the rule book there is a section called “The Spirit of the Game” and it states the following:

Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.

Not allowing golfers to post scores played as a single is a contradiction of The Spirit of the Game.”

Grant Strobel, Head Golf Professional, Woods Valley

“My only concern with this is the total beginner who is trying to establish his or her first handicap and cannot find, or do not know players to join up with to confirm their first 10 rounds. Other than that, I agree with the rule.”

– John Mason, Director of Instruction, Encinitas Ranch

“I feel that it is unfortunate. Golf is a game of honesty and integrity, and for the USGA to make this change means we are not trusting the integrity of the players. Although this is a need to keep the game honest, it is unfortunate that we have to go to this extreme in order to post scores for handicap purposes and make it fair for all tournaments. With all that said, having a witness does make sense in order to properly attest any indicated score.”

Bryon Penfield, Head Golf Professional, Rancho Bernardo Inn 

Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.