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On the Hot Seat

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I have been silent for a bit on this blog.  Time to start blathering again.

A new tournament season is rapidly approaching for our club-without-real estate.  2018 will be my first season as Handicap Chairman after serving a few years on the committee.  We play a 15-event net tournament season so the Handicap Chairman is a somewhat thankless job.  There is always a vocal group that believes every winner is a sandbagger and successful players yap about the downward handicap adjustments we dole out.  One big happy family! ;-)

I just got off the phone with one of our members who has been quite vocal about all the sandbaggers shooting net 64 when he has the same index and can barely break 72 on a net basis.  I pointed out to him that at our 3-day Club Championship in 2016, he shot a net 64, 79 and 63 and won his Flight.  Yes, he had a tough 2017.  It was, however, a result of his poor play rather than his fellow flight competitors consistently shooting net 64.  Sometimes facts overcome emotions.

Our biggest challenge over the years has been to slow down members who, for whatever reason, become overly successful.  No one wants to see the same handful of members at the top of every tournament and the final season standings.  Generally, the use of handicaps should serve to level the playing field and no one should regularly beat their handicap, with a few exceptions (e.g. a rapidly improving player or a player who has been injured and now is healthy).

We have resorted to a number of modifications to our tournament handicapping.  I have previously described our Knuth Tournament Point System.  In addition to that we have begun to use solely “T” scores in the computation of our tournament handicaps.  We do not adjust a member’s GHIN index, just his index for our events.

Unfortunately, our use of only “T” scores has its own set of problems.  Some of our members only play 4-5 “T” rounds a year.  A “T-only” index might use scores going back 4+ years.  We are vigilant to members whose games have declined and give them an upward adjustment to keep them somewhat competitive.

This year we have 24 new members.  Fortunately, only a handful have no scoring history with the Golf Association of Michigan.  For those members who are a blank slate, we usually call them and discuss their game.  Do they have a league handicap?  What was their best round last year (where and what tee)?  What is their average score and what score would usually make them happy?  We occasionally make an error, like with “J.B.” a few years ago.  J.B. was a self-estimated “8.0” index and he won the first event's A flight by 6 shots with a net 64 (74 gross; 71.1/140 rating; 2.3 differential).  Of course, that could have been J.B.’s personal best round but it seemed a prudent idea to make an adjustment in his 8.0 tournament index going forward.

With a bit of luck this year, we will have a different group atop the flight leader boards each tournament.  If we don’t, our committee is ready.

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