This is a conversation I have had with some friends not too long ago. Earlier this week at a golf course, while doing some work for Louisiana Golf Tourism, I saw something that reminded me of those conversations.
Before I explain the situation let me first say I am all for golfers playing different tees to challenge their game. I even mention it in my book, Manage Your Golf Game. However, I know there is a fine line between the tee a golfer chooses to play from and their enjoyment of the game or the scores they will shoot.
Ok, so here is what I saw, a group of golfers playing the back tee of a 240+ yard par-3 hole that is mostly all carry over a hazard. All four golfers hit their driver and all four golfers came up short by at least 15-20 yards and went into the hazard. Their options now are to re-tee which two of the golfers did, or to go take a drop where the ball crossed the hazard, which the other two golfers choose. The two golfers that re-teed both hit the ball out to right and played around the hazard this time. The two that took their drop only gained about 20 yards and both attempted a 3-wood from that position. One golfer came up short again in the hazard and the other played out to the right of the hazard like the others. None of them looked to be enjoying themselves, at least not at that moment. I will also add the golf course was not busy so there were no golfers within three holes of them.
You can see how that scenario had reminded me of previous conversations regarding verifying handicaps. Each conversation had valid points made in taking a stance either for or against verifying handicaps. On one side you have golfers paying to play and they should be able to choose where they play from. On the other side does a golfer playing beyond their skill level slow play? Both are valid arguments.
My sole focus would be on the enjoyment of the game for all golfers. If verifying handicaps leads to the overall enjoyment of all golfers then I am for it. If golfers still enjoy themselves and it does not slow play then it makes no difference and there is no need to verify a handicap. On the other hand, if a golf course is extremely challenging regardless of a golfer's skill level then perhaps they should verify handicaps for everyone's enjoyment.
Let us know where you stand on whether or not handicaps should be verified to play from certain tees.