This somewhat continues a blog posting from 2016. If anyone is interested (Anyone?... Anyone?... Bueller), here is a link: https://thesandtrap.com/blogs/entry/91-the-end-to-sand-bagging/
Fast forward 4+ years and I now occupy the highly sought-after position of Handicap Chairman. We modified the Knuth Tournament Point System for our club. Members accumulate points over the course of the season but, rather than roll the points over to the next year, we start fresh. One of the biggest drawbacks with a “rolling 2-year” computation was the recordkeeping involved.
We also moved to a “Competition Only” handicap for our members. We develop a handicap index based solely on “C” (formerly “T”) scores. Players continue to post all their scores to GHIN to maintain their GHIN index. We pull the “C” scores out and calculate an index using the WHS calculation but with just their “C” scores. An excel spreadsheet makes this process fairly easy.
The move to a “Competition Only” index has largely solved the issue of sandbagging. Over the course of a season, few members are successful enough to “earn” a Knuth handicap reduction. After 9 tournaments in 2020, three members currently have reductions of 2-3 strokes. Most of our member’s GHIN indexes closely mirror their “C-only” indexes we use in our tournaments. Only one member has won their Flight more than a single time. The exception, surprisingly, has won 3 times in 5 tournaments. That success has earned him 9 Knuth points and a 3-stroke reduction going forward. When I gave him the news, he was not pleased. Here is an excerpt from his response:
“… In using this system, it is not making (our tournaments) fair or equitable. It is like anybody who plays should get a ribbon because they participated, make all feel good, nobody loses, SOCIALISM.”
I tied to talk to him at the next tournament but he did not want to discuss his situation. If he had stopped a moment, he might have realized the entire system of handicapping is a bit of “socialism”. He clearly would not fare too well even-up with his 10-handicap game against our scratch members. The handicap system is designed to make it possible for everyone to have a chance at getting a ribbon, as he put it, but it does not guarantee a ribbon.
Still, he does somewhat have a point about our club’s efforts at leveling the playing field. By using a “Competition Only” index, eventually even the worst choker will see his index rise sufficiently to make him competitive. Why practice and try to become better when eventually poor play will result in a competitive index?
For example, “Rob” is a tall, strong individual. He has a good swing and is capable of hitting the ball a long way, relatively straight. Still, he seems to be a bit of a vanity handicapper. A couple years ago he was playing in our “A” Flight (unsuccessfully). While his current GHIN index is 7.1, his scores from his last 8 tournaments are: 89, 83, 88, 87, 93, 100, 92, 92. The 83 resulted in a differential of 10.2 so the balance of the differentials are higher. His “C-Only” index is 11.8. Currently “Rob” is playing in our C Flight with guys sporting indexes of 11.0-15.0. It is just a matter of time before “Rob” gets his “ribbon.” In our efforts to weed out potential sandbaggers, we have promoted the also ran’s into contenders.
I am not going to lose any sleep over this situation. After the season’s end, the Board can decide whether any changes are warranted. I somewhat like the idea of using the lower of the GHIN and “C-Only” indexes. If someone wants to have a low GHIN index, let him compete with it.