Dear Sir /Madam,
We have had a number of calls regarding the changes to the Senior Tee section of the latest SAGA handicap manual.
We have provided a further explanation below in the hope that this clears up any misunderstandings or questions regarding this change.
Explanatory notes on the changes in the Handicap Manual regarding the use of Senior Tees, and the recommendation that clubs have Forward Tees rated by their Provincial Union
The SAGA has called on clubs which have a Senior Tee on every hole (or on more than just one or two holes) to rather refer to these as a “Forward Tee” and have these rated by their respective unions, in the same way as the Club Tee and Back Tee are rated.The rating of the Forward Tee will reflect the degree to which it is easier than the next tee behind it.
The SAGA has made the change because the original concept was for this provision of a “Senior Tee” to only apply to courses where there were one or maybe two holes which had a long carry over a hazard with no alternative route. Senior players using these tees were required, in the absence of a Standard Rating, to enter their scores using the Standard Rating of the Club Tee, rather than a rating for the shorter set of Senior Tees. This resulted in incorrect handicaps and gave an unfair advantage and or disadvantage depending on where these senior members were playing their golf.
Once the forward tees have been rated by the Union, these Forward Tees can of course be made available for use by anyone in the club, not just older golfers. Scores from these tees should be entered using the rating of the Forward Tee to ensure equity in the handicapping system.
With regard to competition days, the SAGA suggests that clubs allow their senior players to play off the Forward Tees, but with the condition that for competition purposes their handicaps are reduced according to the Standard Rating difference between the competition tee in use on the day (Club or Back Tee) and the Forward Tee. If the rating is correctly done this would give them no statistical advantage.
At clubs where a certain hole has a long carry over a hazard, and there are no alternative routes, clubs can put in a “Special Tee” for use by selected members. In such cases the course does not need an official Forward Tee rating and rules around the use of this tee will be made by the club.
A member using one or more Special Tees will enter a score based on the Standard Rating of the tees from which the majority of holes are played (Club or Back Tee). However, where possible clubs should avoid having Special Tees for the reasons outlined above.
Handicap Changes for players moving between Senior Tees and Club Tees
Players moving between Senior Tees and Club Tees are of course obliged to play off their official handicap as there is no provision in the handicap manual for any handicap adjustment for senior players moving between Senior Tees and Club Tees.
Background to the change
When golfers get older and no longer hit the ball as far, their handicaps tend to increase. There is therefore no justification for having any age-related compensation that is not reflected in the players handicap. There is also no other major golf playing country that has an age related benefit to golfers in their handicap system.
The previous SAGA handicap manual made provision for clubs to have a special tee on some holes for use by elderly members who could not get over a hazard off the tee. This special tee was called a Senior Tee and the idea was that it was a special compensation by the club for some elderly members and it was up to the club how they would deal with their use in competitions.
This Senior Tee concept was however taken a step further by some clubs and they installed so called “Senior Tees” on every hole or on many holes. Certain players over the age of 65 were then allowed to play off these tees and enter their scores using the Standard Rating of the next tee behind the Senior Tee, usually the Club Tee. This meant that when players first moved to the Senior Tee they had a handicap advantage as they were handicapped off the harder (longer) tee and playing an easier (shorter) set of tees.
Generally after playing sufficient rounds off the Senior Tees their handicaps would come down as they were effectively playing an easier course but still using the rating of the next set of more difficult tees. This put them at a handicap disadvantage if they played another course which did not have senior tees.
Conversely if they regularly played course that did not have full sets of senior tees, they would have higher scores at these courses and higher handicaps. Which gave them an unfair advantage when they played a course with Senior Tees.
By introducing ratings for Forward Tees the SAGA will ensure that golfers who regularly play off the forward tees will have a handicap representative of their ability on any tee at any course.
Handicaps Network Africa