Entries are now open for the 2021 Inter-Club competitions. Entry details for the national competitions were sent to golf clubs last week, with Golf Ireland also confirming the key handicapping information that will apply this year. 2021 will bring a few changes, with the old name of the GUI and ILGU Cups and Shields replaced with the new name of Inter-Club competitions becoming the central club events for Golf Ireland. In January the new single governing body for amateur golf in Ireland officially took over from the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland which had been responsible for the sport for over 100 years. 2021 promises to be a very exciting year as the new WHS handicapping system will result in slight changes to the handicap allowances for the twenty national competitions.
In a briefing to clubs last week, Golf Ireland announced the details that many golfers had been looking for. “The handicap criteria for the inter-club competitions has been arrived at following a detailed comparative analysis of data both before and after the introduction of the World Handicapping System. However, given the fundamental nature of the change in the handicapping system, it is not possible to ensure all players who would have been eligible for certain competitions under the old system will continue to be eligible under the new one. Likewise, some players will find themselves eligible for competitions for which they would not have previously qualified”. Golf Ireland also stated that the data will continue to be reviewed closely, particularly in the next three years, and it is likely there may be annual adjustments to the 2021 handicapping criteria during that period.
Golf Ireland announced last year that new handicap allowances would be in place for 2021, and set about a detailed examination of the changes from the Congu handicaps to the WHS handicap indexes. At the time of the WHS launch a few months ago, it was said that low handicapped golfers may receive a lower handicap index while high handicappers may receive a higher allowance. Working with data from previous years, it seems like the objective was to ensure that the new allowances would match as closely as possible to the Congu handicap limits and allowances.
The previous requirement to have a minimum number of qualifying scores has been removed for 2021 and in all cases where a maximum or minimum handicap index is required, it is the exact handicap index on the 1st of January will be used. Course handicaps or playing handicaps will not be used as qualification criteria. Full details and examples of the formats and contexts for fourballs and foursomes will be available in the tournament regulations which will be available before the events start. The Barton Shield, Mens Senior Cup and Womens Senior Cup continue to be played off scratch. All three comeptitions have a requirement that players must have a current handicap index and in the case of the Womens Senior Cup, a limit of 14.0 is in place. In the Womens Junior Cup the lowest handicap limit is 7.5 and in the Mens Junior Cup the limit is 2.5.
For Womens Senior Foursomes, players must have a handicap index of less than 14.0, but the combined handicap cannot be lower than 12.0. For the Junior Foursomes the lower limit is 13.0 and the combined total must equal 28.0 or higher. On the Mens side the Jimmy Bruen has a lower limit of 3.5 when the combined limit is not lower than 14.0. Comparing that to 2020, the lowest handicap limit was 5, with a combined minimum of 15 in place. In the Pierce Purcell Shield the individual limit is 10.5 when the combined minimum is 25. Interestingly in the Mixed Foursomes there has been no change, with the lowest combined minimum remaining at 19.0. As in previous years there will be a limit on the playing handicap a pair can use, that has been set at 15.0 and full details will be provided in the tournament regulations. The Country Clubs is the only Munster event. The competition limited to nine hole courses will see a minimum handicap limit of 9.5 introduced for 2021. The Country Clubs as well as the Mixed Foursomes was one of the events not to be played in 2020 so their return will be welcomed later this year. Full details for all 20 national events have been issued to clubs, and clubs have until Friday 29th January to enter. INter