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Philosophical hcp "quality" question ...

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

So I was talking with my golf buddies the other day - one of the guys we work with belongs to a private club & posts a low hcp.    We all play bottomfeeder golf on golfnow - meaning we play the cheapest tee times at a dozen or more courses within an hour or so driving time.     In scramble tourneys, I've seen it several times that any of us mop the floor with the private club guy with the far lower hcp.

 

My question is this ... guys that play ONE course and only one course know the green slopes & where to target their approach shot on each green, where to put the ball on which side of the fairway so that one tree doesn't partially block your wedge shot in, where you should lay your tee shot on that blind dogleg right, etc.      When you play tons of different courses, you never learn that truly "insider" information  that comes with playing one club all the time.

 

So, it just seems to me that private club guys of similar skill will have a lower hcp than guys who play a variety of public courses.     I think the best way to lower your handicap isn't to spend more time at the range, it's to join a private club !!     Thoughts ?

post #2 of 41
You're absolutely right. All other things being equal, guys that play multiple courses will generally be better players at the same hcp. Sometimes significantly. A lot of those one course handicaps don't "travel" well at all!
post #3 of 41

I can personally attest to that.  As a junior I only ever played my home course.  I was usually low 80's and every few rounds would go sub 80.

The one or two times a year I would go to another course with my Grandpa I was lost.  I could rarely break 90.

post #4 of 41

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by inthehole View Post
 

So, it just seems to me that private club guys of similar skill will have a lower hcp than guys who play a variety of public courses.     I think the best way to lower your handicap isn't to spend more time at the range, it's to join a private club !!     Thoughts ?

I am not sure if your conclusion is tongue and cheek, but you do make some valid points.

 

I think it benefits your game to play different golf courses by helping to improve the following skills-

     figuring strategy for new holes

     making a confident stroke even when you are not 100% sure about the shot

     reading new greens

     playing from different types of grass

     playing in different wind conditions

 

I also think playing new courses has the advantage of providing a new stimulus, varying degrees of difficulty and playing shots where there is no mental scar tissue from past failures.  I like playing new courses and have posted some pretty good 1st round scores at some courses that are not too tricked out.

 

As a teenager, I had the same home course as my dad, but played in a lot of junior tournaments around So Cal while he mostly stuck to our home course with the occasional round at one of the neighboring courses- we were pretty competitive with each other at our home course (where he has now shot his age) but he was much more likely to have blow up round when we played a new course on vacation.  

 

RE scrambles- some players may try to execute different shots than they normally would (I know that I hit a lot more drivers) and others choke in all tournaments, including scrambles.

post #5 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post
 

I am not sure if your conclusion is tongue and cheek, but you do make some valid points.

 

I think it benefits your game to play different golf courses by helping to improve the following skills-

     figuring strategy for new holes

     making a confident stroke even when you are not 100% sure about the shot

     reading new greens

     playing from different types of grass

     playing in different wind conditions

 

I also think playing new courses has the advantage of providing a new stimulus, varying degrees of difficulty and playing shots where there is no mental scar tissue from past failures.  I like playing new courses and have posted some pretty good 1st round scores at some courses that are not too tricked out.

 

As a teenager, I had the same home course as my dad, but played in a lot of junior tournaments around So Cal while he mostly stuck to our home course with the occasional round at one of the neighboring courses- we were pretty competitive with each other at our home course (where he has now shot his age) but he was much more likely to have blow up round when we played a new course on vacation.

 

RE scrambles- some players may try to execute different shots than they normally would (I know that I hit a lot more drivers) and others choke in all tournaments, including scrambles.

 

I think his point is that people who play the vast majority of their golf at a single course, learn that course really well.  They know the greens, know the misses, and the layups.  As a result, they tend to score lower and their handicap lowers as well.  When they're taken away from their home course, they struggle.

 

I agree 100%.  I've experienced the same thing myself as a private club member, and see it in others now that I'm playing a much wider range of courses.  I don't want to get OT, so I'll start another thread, but it'll be interesting to see how many different courses people actually get to play in the course of a year/season.

post #6 of 41

The biggest difference for me when I was a club member was that I knew the greens so well. After hundreds (or thousands) of rounds on the same course there wasn't really ever a putt that I had any doubt about.

post #7 of 41

As a generality I would also agree that a person who mostly plays one course is just about bound to be "better" at playing that particular course than they would be other courses.  However, I think there are a lot of variables that probably affect individuals, so it's probably not a given that a multi-course player will dominate a single-course player of similar handicaps.

 

First, and foremost, is the individual and how they manage posting their scores.  There was a lengthy thread not long ago about people with "vanity" handicaps.  While I'm not a private club basher by any means, it wouldn't surprise me if I learned that there are more vanity handicaps among private club players than other parts of the golf population.

 

Most important though is how the individual in question manages their game.  While you DO learn to manage risks and rewards better as you become familiar with a course, the question is whether it is something that the player is doing consciously and intentionally, or if that improved course management has just sort of soaked into their skull over time.  Big difference.  The intentional course manager is likely to be able to take those skills to another course, while the unconscious guy will probably really struggle and wonder what's wrong that day.

 

Finally, for the record, it certainly isn't just private clubs.  Lots of people have their home course that they spend most of their time around.  I do.

post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by PirateJim View Post
 

As a generality I would also agree that a person who mostly plays one course is just about bound to be "better" at playing that particular course than they would be other courses.  However, I think there are a lot of variables that probably affect individuals, so it's probably not a given that a multi-course player will dominate a single-course player of similar handicaps.

 

First, and foremost, is the individual and how they manage posting their scores.  There was a lengthy thread not long ago about people with "vanity" handicaps.  While I'm not a private club basher by any means, it wouldn't surprise me if I learned that there are more vanity handicaps among private club players than other parts of the golf population.

 

Most important though is how the individual in question manages their game.  While you DO learn to manage risks and rewards better as you become familiar with a course, the question is whether it is something that the player is doing consciously and intentionally, or if that improved course management has just sort of soaked into their skull over time.  Big difference.  The intentional course manager is likely to be able to take those skills to another course, while the unconscious guy will probably really struggle and wonder what's wrong that day.

 

Finally, for the record, it certainly isn't just private clubs.  Lots of people have their home course that they spend most of their time around.  I do.

 

All things being equal being the kicker.......the only consideration/difference being the number and variety of courses played.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PirateJim View Post
 

As a generality I would also agree that a person who mostly plays one course is just about bound to be "better" at playing that particular course than they would be other courses.  However, I think there are a lot of variables that probably affect individuals, so it's probably not a given that a multi-course player will dominate a single-course player of similar handicaps.

 

First, and foremost, is the individual and how they manage posting their scores.  There was a lengthy thread not long ago about people with "vanity" handicaps.  While I'm not a private club basher by any means, it wouldn't surprise me if I learned that there are more vanity handicaps among private club players than other parts of the golf population.

 

Most important though is how the individual in question manages their game.  While you DO learn to manage risks and rewards better as you become familiar with a course, the question is whether it is something that the player is doing consciously and intentionally, or if that improved course management has just sort of soaked into their skull over time.  Big difference.  The intentional course manager is likely to be able to take those skills to another course, while the unconscious guy will probably really struggle and wonder what's wrong that day.

 

Finally, for the record, it certainly isn't just private clubs.  Lots of people have their home course that they spend most of their time around.  I do.

 

 

Absolutely agree.....I don't think the intent was to limit it to private clubs, but rather to differentiate those that play at a wide variety of courses, vs those that play at very few.

post #9 of 41
I almost never play well the first time at a new course.

But that doesn't mean your HCP is invalid. HCP reflects scoring potential. So, a 3-capper who shoots 82 the first time he plays a new course still has the potential to shoot 75 at that course--he just needs a few reps.
post #10 of 41

I agree with a lot of the OP's points and do think that, all else being equal, single course players are more likely to have weaker handicaps than multi-course players when both are on an unfamiliar layout.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by David in FL View Post
 

 

I think his point is that people who play the vast majority of their golf at a single course, learn that course really well.  They know the greens, know the misses, and the layups.  As a result, they tend to score lower and their handicap lowers as well.  When they're taken away from their home course, they struggle.

 

 

For a good player, I think that most of the benefit of course knowledge comes within the first 1 to 10 rounds.  Sure, playing 1000s of rounds on a course will give you more knowledge of the greens and some of the less visited areas of the course- this should help your scoring a bit but I really think for some players it comes down to comfort level and having more confidence at their home course because there are no lingering uncertainties in their mind.  Good road warriors are able to put these uncertainties behind them and make confident shots at new courses.  Going back to my dad, he tends to play reasonably well at his home course and on local courses that he has played once a year or so for the past 40 years, but struggles on new courses that have different looking designs/layouts.

 

I also think that it is easier to get dialed in on putting and chipping distances if you play greens with the same speed and firmness.  Of course, playing the same course everyday is no guarantee of finding this, but playing different courses everyday makes it more elusive.

post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post

I almost never play well the first time at a new course.

But that doesn't mean your HCP is invalid. HCP reflects scoring potential. So, a 3-capper who shoots 82 the first time he plays a new course still has the potential to shoot 75 at that course--he just needs a few reps.

 

That's kind of the point.....

 

You have two 3 hcp players.  Both post all their scores, play by the rules, play courses of the same relative CR and from similar length tees.  One plays a different course just about every week while maintaining that 3 hcp.  The other plays one course exclusively while maintaining his 3 hcp.

 

Put them together for a match on a course neither has ever seen before.  Who are you gonna put your money on?  I'm putting mine on the first guy every time.  He might not win every time, but he'll win the vast majority......

post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post

So I was talking with my golf buddies the other day - one of the guys we work with belongs to a private club & posts a low hcp.    We all play bottomfeeder golf on golfnow - meaning we play the cheapest tee times at a dozen or more courses within an hour or so driving time.     In scramble tourneys, I've seen it several times that any of us mop the floor with the private club guy with the far lower hcp.

My question is this ... guys that play ONE course and only one course know the green slopes & where to target their approach shot on each green, where to put the ball on which side of the fairway so that one tree doesn't partially block your wedge shot in, where you should lay your tee shot on that blind dogleg right, etc.      When you play tons of different courses, you never learn that truly "insider" information  that comes with playing one club all the time.

So, it just seems to me that private club guys of similar skill will have a lower hcp than guys who play a variety of public courses.     I think the best way to lower your handicap isn't to spend more time at the range, it's to join a private club !!     Thoughts ?

I generally agree with this. I wonder, though, how much the familiarity helps. Also, how does a low cap compare to a high cap?

I would guess that a high handicapper will struggle more at an unknown course than a low handicapper (relative to their handicaps). Why? First, the low cap is more likely to be able to fly the ball all the way to their target and not miss by too much. The high handicapper (in my experience, at least ) misses short and relies on a roll out much more often. The high handicappers misses are generally much wider as well. Also, I would think the low handicapper would be better able to play shots that they don't normally have to play.
post #13 of 41

My experience is the opposite. Typically private courses are setup more difficult and that is a bigger advantage than unfamiliarity. A good golfer is going to be able to keep the ball in play and see what's in front of them and is accustomed to playing on a challenging course. Greens could present a problem but IMO minimal. I never struggle with reading greens but speed can be a problem, especially if it's inconsistent. It only takes a few minutes on the practice green to get a feel for that if the rest of the greens are consistent. The people I see that don't travel well usually suffer from vanity cap issues. Can't speak for anyone else but my worst scores of the season are at my home course. So are my best scores but familiarity isn't enough to advantage to eliminate mistakes and mishits. I can have a bad day on any course.

post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post

I almost never play well the first time at a new course.

But that doesn't mean your HCP is invalid. HCP reflects scoring potential. So, a 3-capper who shoots 82 the first time he plays a new course still has the potential to shoot 75 at that course--he just needs a few reps.

 

That's kind of the point.....

 

You have two 3 hcp players.  Both post all their scores, play by the rules, play courses of the same relative CR and from similar length tees.  One plays a different course just about every week while maintaining that 3 hcp.  The other plays one course exclusively while maintaining his 3 hcp.

 

Put them together for a match on a course neither has ever seen before.  Who are you gonna put your money on?  I'm putting mine on the first guy every time.  He might not win every time, but he'll win the vast majority......

 

Why do you think that the pros play practice rounds for tournaments, even on courses they play every year?  Because even the best don't have eidetic memories - they need a refresher.  Nobody's game plays as well on the road as it does at home.  For those of you like the OP who play different courses all of the time - if you played one of those courses 30% of the time and mixed the other 70% among 9 or 10 others, you should tend to score better against the rating on that one course than any of the others just due to familiarity.  In that case, your handicap would be skewed slightly because of it - meaning that more of your low differentials would be from that course and would be used in your index formula.  

 

I've only broken 80 on two courses aside from my home course, yet I've broken 80 on my home course dozens of times.  I realize that a lot of that is due to familiarity and comfort, but I don't let it bother me.  It just is.  I happen to like the course and the people I play with there, so it's my choice.  

post #15 of 41

But the OP comments about more than variety, he's specifically called out the private club golfer.

post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave2512 View Post

But the OP comments about more than variety, he's specifically called out the private club golfer.
Im pretty confident he didn't really mean it that way. He meant handicap at one course vs multiples.

And I agree with him 100%
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

Im pretty confident he didn't really mean it that way. He meant handicap at one course vs multiples.

And I agree with him 100%

But what he's really talking about is not HCP "validity". He's talking about expected score playing a course blind for the first time. HCP reflects scoring potential, so those are really two different things.
post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post


But what he's really talking about is not HCP "validity". He's talking about expected score playing a course blind for the first time. HCP reflects scoring potential, so those are really two different things.

Right, but I think that potential is skewed a bit when you hone it on one course versus several.  Now, this isn't going to be true across the board.  The difficulty of the one course matters as well ... a valid handicap for a member of Oakmont, for example, is likely going to travel quite well.  But in general, everybody is going to get a bit comfortable playing the same course over and over.

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