Laura Heien is the new DSGA executive director
Congratulations to Delaware State Golf Association staffer Laura Heien for her promotion to executive director for the DSGA.
Heien began her new role effective Jan. 1, after serving as director of operations for the organization since 2013.
After the departure of former Executive Director Bill Barrow early last year, the DSGA operated with board President Robert Strong as the acting executive director until a full-time replacement could be found.
Apparently the board recognized Heien as the best choice, which in my opinion made perfect sense. She has always been remarkably responsive to my inquiries, as well as extremely helpful during DSGA events, including the state high school golf championships.
Heien said, “I'm very excited for the opportunity and thank the DSGA board, member facilities and our golfers for their support since I first got involved with DSGA in 2011. The golf industry, as a whole, is heading into an interesting new era, and I look forward to improving upon DSGA's membership offerings and focusing on what we all enjoy – the golf.”
In the press release announcing the promotion, Strong stated: “Laura has been an integral part of the DSGA for seven-plus years, and she has provided exemplary service to the organization and to our members throughout the State of Delaware. Her commitment to the game is unmatched, and we look forward to working with Laura to continue to build upon the successes of the past year and we wish her the best of luck moving forward.”
In related news, Mark Glodowski interned for the DSGA during 2019, and he is now the DSGA’s communications and member services manager.
World Handicap System changes now underway
As noted in my Nov. 8 column, the United States Golf Association and several other golf rules organizations around the world agreed upon and adopted a uniform handicap system which went into effect Jan. 1.
The changes reflect a balancing of interests and adjustments to prior practices by all of the organizations, including but by no means limited to the USGA and the Royal & Ancient.
Golfers will not be able to check their handicap index or post qualifying scores from Jan. 1-5 as the computers are switched over to the new system, but scores from that period may be posted after that date.
The new rules affect how a player’s handicap index is calculated, how those handicaps are adjusted both by course and the tee, how to address unusually bad weather conditions, and the role of handicap committees in assuring fair competitive environments.
One change affects how golfers determine the number of handicap strokes for a competition. The prior USGA system used a Course Handicap, calculated under the formula CH = Handicap Index x Slope Rating ÷ 113. For example, my CH for Rookery South’s White tees was 8 ((7.3 x 123) /113), rounding up a 7.9.
The new formula is Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) plus (Course Rating - Par).
For me this means 7.3 x 1.08 (123/113) + (-2.4) (68.6 course rating - 71 par), or 5.48 (rounds down to 5). I await confirmation from our friends at the DSGA, which manages the handicap scoring system for its member clubs.
Another rules change addresses how to deal with different par values on the same course at different tees. This happens at Rookery North, where par on the white and blue tees is 70, but par on the red/green and gold tees is 71. In that instance, the player using the tee box with a greater par value gains the extra stroke.
One of the more appealing aspects of the old USGA system, Equitable Stroke Control, remains in place with a change. ESC deals with blow-up holes, where a golfer screws up not only royally, but also at a level beyond what you would expect for a player with his or her handicap. The maximum hole score ranged from double bogey for those with course handicaps of 9 or less, up to 10 for players with handicaps of 40 or more.
The WHS version uses what has been in place for other golf associations for several years. The maximum hole score is net double bogey (double bogey plus the handicap strokes the player would receive on that hole – or give, in the rare case of a plus-handicap player). For example, at Rookery South, my ESC score on the par 4 fifth hole is net double bogey, because I don’t receive any handicap strokes on that hole. For the par 5 sixth hole, which has the No. 1 handicap allocation, my ESC score is 8 (double bogey plus the stroke I receive there).
I predict that once golfers gain experience with the new ESC rules, they may be interested in revisiting the handicap stroke allocations on their home course. Those allocations directly affect the potential net double bogey score, and that could inspire some folks to press for a re-evaluation of how those handicap numbers are spread throughout the 18 holes.