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Seasonal Sandbagging

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bkuehn1952

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Our state association recently announced that the handicap reporting season has been extended to November 15.  This came after they opened the reporting season early with a March 15 opening rather than the traditional April 1st date.

I am all for reporting as many scores as possible but extending the handicap reporting season, on both ends, seems like a bad idea.  Certainly most courses in Southeast Michigan become playable by mid-March and remain so until mid-November.  There is a big difference, however, between being playable versus being in decent shape.  Early in the year the ground is extremely soggy, temperatures are barely above freezing, and the greens are slow & bumpy. Late October and November often sport similar conditions with aerated greens and reduced course maintenance.  Many course’s bunkers look like a battle zone with deer tracks, leaves and water puddles.  There are no tournaments played after September or scheduled prior to May in recognition of the rough conditions that exist early and late in the season. 

These rough conditions often lead to what I call, “seasonal sandbagging.”  Those of us who play regularly through November and then start early in March typically see our indexes rise.  As an example, at the end of tournament season in 2015 my index was 7.3.  By the first May tournament in 2016, my index was 9.4.  Until the improved conditions allowed me to score better (and lower my index), I had a 2-3 shot advantage over competitors whose indexes reflected the fact that they started the season late and put their clubs away early. 

Undoubtedly, the Golf Association of Michigan staff have their reasons for extending the reporting season. I remain unconvinced that reporting scores from March or November create a more accurate handicap index.  Still, rules are rules so that 86 I will shoot in November will replace that 78 I carded in the last tournament at the end of August.  And I will be that much more competitive in our first net event of 2017.  ;-)

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I have to agree with you. Bad call. Even in SW Ohio, conditions are pretty deplorable until 4/1. Soggy fairways yield very little roll and there is goose and deer dung all over the place. 

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Its been a few years since things changed, but I remember when Virginia had a "no-posting" season.  Now we post year round, and we see the same seasonal fluctuation, at least for the folks who play a significant amount through the winter.  I'd hate to apply the "sandbagging" term to it, since all you're doing is playing within the rules, but a player can definitely gain a stroke or two in handicap as compared to others who don't choose to brave the elements.

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How much does this really matter?

By that, I mean… how many times could you play in those two weeks that are going to be bumping your scores significantly? Recreational players don't play much in the fringe seasons, so you'll play plenty of times over the spring/summer to bump these fringe scores out, too.

I know I've hated that I could not post rounds on days when conditions were fine just because it was "out of season." Hell, we had a January five years ago or so where guys played 20+ rounds. None counted, though it was 60° and sunny all month. The course was fine.

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I saw this my first year in Arkansas. We dont suspend our score posting because our winters are fairly mild. With that said, we had a bunker renovation last year that suspended entering scores from October to April. I was a 9 index when scores were suspended. Granted all "winter" we played bunkers as ground under repair, but there were rounds where I didn't hit into a bunker and scored well below my index. I play 8-20 rounds a month, so by mid May all of my "seasonal" rounds had knocked off and I was playing to my real index then. 

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4 hours ago, iacas said:

How much does this really matter?

By that, I mean… how many times could you play in those two weeks that are going to be bumping your scores significantly?

Not much.  Still, a handicap index is supposed to measure a player's potential.  Scores from March, April, late October and November are typically going to be made in tougher conditions and won't reflect one's potential for scoring in May-September.

Last year I recorded 6 scores after 10/31 and 14 total after 10/15.  This Spring I had 6 scores from 3/15 to 3/31 and another 8 prior to 4/15, for a total of 14.  So my index on 4/15/2016 was totally comprised of differentials made under very marginal course & weather conditions.  When the weather improved, I was more competitive with my somewhat bloated index than perhaps my actual "potential".

Yes, I am somewhat an exception with my play late and early each season.  I still think extending the posting season is not a great idea.

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5 hours ago, bkuehn1952 said:

Not much.  Still, a handicap index is supposed to measure a player's potential.  Scores from March, April, late October and November are typically going to be made in tougher conditions and won't reflect one's potential for scoring in May-September.

Who says they're tougher conditions?

Softer, slower greens are sometimes easier. Softer fairways. Fewer leaves on the trees. Pros shoot lower scores in softer conditions, after all…

5 hours ago, bkuehn1952 said:

Last year I recorded 6 scores after 10/31 and 14 total after 10/15.  This Spring I had 6 scores from 3/15 to 3/31 and another 8 prior to 4/15, for a total of 14.  So my index on 4/15/2016 was totally comprised of differentials made under very marginal course & weather conditions.  When the weather improved, I was more competitive with my somewhat bloated index than perhaps my actual "potential".

How different were the scores? And if you play that often, you'll play enough rounds within the next revision or two to get them out of your last 20.

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On 21/10/2016 at 5:18 AM, iacas said:

Who says they're tougher conditions?

Congu research shows the CSS (competition scratch score) in competitions is definitely higher through winter compared to summer. I know the weather isn't identical but they are both northern hemisphere climates. I know what you're saying but on average they are harder conditions to score in.

By the way, the CSS negates this entire issue for us.

 

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1 hour ago, Pete said:

By the way, the CSS negates this entire issue for us.

I had heard rumors that the projected worldwide handicap system might have something like CSS, which would make my point moot.

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6 hours ago, Pete said:

Congu research shows the CSS (competition scratch score) in competitions is definitely higher through winter compared to summer. I know the weather isn't identical but they are both northern hemisphere climates. I know what you're saying but on average they are harder conditions to score in.

I imagine that's true, but… I wasn't talking about "winter" - I was talking about an extra two weeks on the beginning or end of the normal season.

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