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Tournament Handicap


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I am in a club championship that started in early June. I was in a flight of 8 people that ranges from 10.9-11.7 indexes.  The first round was in June, the second round in late July and the semi finals in mid-September.  The finals are this Sunday.The person I am playing improved his index from an 11 to a 6 since June and I am still an 11.2.

Do you think the finals should be played off of his new Handicap or what was used in June when we were flighted?

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  • iacas changed the title to Tournament Handicap
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On 9/26/2020 at 12:22 PM, Travis said:

I am in a club championship that started in early June. I was in a flight of 8 people that ranges from 10.9-11.7 indexes.  The first round was in June, the second round in late July and the semi finals in mid-September.  The finals are this Sunday.The person I am playing improved his index from an 11 to a 6 since June and I am still an 11.2.

Do you think the finals should be played off of his new Handicap or what was used in June when we were flighted?

It's up to the Committee to decide, in advance, and publish for the competitors, what the rules are around handicaps.  What any of us thinks is "right" should be overruled by the specific rules of the competition.  Now if I'm on that Committee, I would want to use the handicap as of the date of the match, but I'm not the one making the decisions.

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

It's up to the Committee to decide, in advance, and publish for the competitors, what the rules are around handicaps.  What any of us thinks is "right" should be overruled by the specific rules of the competition.  Now if I'm on that Committee, I would want to use the handicap as of the date of the match, but I'm not the one making the decisions.

It’s kind of a weird situation, though, because the guy improved to the point that he wouldn’t even qualify for the flight he’s already in. I’m assuming the competition is gross scoring within the flight.

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12 hours ago, billchao said:

It’s kind of a weird situation, though, because the guy improved to the point that he wouldn’t even qualify for the flight he’s already in. I’m assuming the competition is gross scoring within the flight.

I think you're probably right, as @Travis probably wouldn't have asked the question if he thought he was being treated fairly.  And I'm not so sure that playing gross within the flight is "unfair", it rewards a player who works on and improves his game throughout the season.  But my experience at my home club with season-long match play is that we've used the handicap as of the day of the match, rather than from some much earlier date.  Maybe @Travis will return and fill in some more of the details.

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The way I see it, you can't punish the guy for improving throughout the year.  If you do, you are opening the door for sandbagging.  That's pretty awesome that the guy was able to lower his handicap by 5 strokes over the summer.  

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2 minutes ago, Grinde6 said:

The way I see it, you can't punish the guy for improving throughout the year. 

How are you punishing him by asking him to play to his actual, legit handicap?

How are you not punishing the opponent if you keep the outdated/old handicap?

How is keeping the old handicap not going to encourage early-season sandbagging that allows the results to last all summer long?

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4 minutes ago, Grinde6 said:

The way I see it, you can't punish the guy for improving throughout the year.  If you do, you are opening the door for sandbagging.  That's pretty awesome that the guy was able to lower his handicap by 5 strokes over the summer.  

It's not punishing him, using his current handicap would keep it fair for all players especially since he technically doesnt qualify for that flight anymore.

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32 minutes ago, klineka said:

It's not punishing him, using his current handicap would keep it fair for all players especially since he technically doesnt qualify for that flight anymore.

It works both ways, doesn’t it? If a guy got worse over the summer and is a 15 now, playing net would mean he gets strokes. I feel a championship should be won by the guy playing the best golf and not simply because he won a few extra holes because he got strokes on them.

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38 minutes ago, Grinde6 said:

The way I see it, you can't punish the guy for improving throughout the year.  If you do, you are opening the door for sandbagging.  That's pretty awesome that the guy was able to lower his handicap by 5 strokes over the summer.  

The only thing that would be "unfair" is to change the rules of the competition for the final match.  If they are to play based on gross score, per the rules, that's what should be done.  I don't think its the best way to set up the competition, knowing it will last for months, but it could have been done that way.  If the competition is set up to be played based on handicaps as of the date of the match, then that is "fair". The worst situation is if the Committee hasn't clearly outlined the rules around the handicaps, because if this is the first time its being discussed, their decision will put one of the players at a disadvantage, as compared to the other potential decision.

1 minute ago, billchao said:

It works both ways, doesn’t it? If a guy got worse over the summer and is a 15 now, playing net would mean he gets strokes. I feel a championship should be won by the guy playing the best golf and not simply because he won a few extra holes because he got strokes on them.

I think this is a pretty valid viewpoint, and a valid way to make the rules for the event.  These players were really close to one-another at the beginning of the season, and now one is playing significantly better.  Again, I'd make the other choice, but that doesn't mean playing straight up for the entire duration of the tournament is "wrong".  If @Travis has just now decided that he doesn't like the way the tournament was set up in May or June, I'd say he's "wrong".

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

How are you punishing him by asking him to play to his actual, legit handicap?

How are you not punishing the opponent if you keep the outdated/old handicap?

How is keeping the old handicap not going to encourage early-season sandbagging that allows the results to last all summer long?

I am taking this as a Gross event and also reading into the OP words that it isnt fair that this guy is still in the same handicapped bracket as him, even thought the tournament started a few months ago.

Again, I am reading into this as a gross event.  

People are going to sandbag regardless, but I don't feel like this guy should not be allowed to finish out this club championship that he started months ago just because he has improved over the year.

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23 minutes ago, Grinde6 said:

People are going to sandbag regardless, but I don't feel like this guy should not be allowed to finish out this club championship that he started months ago just because he has improved over the year.

Yeah, sandbagging is tough, either way.  As @iacas says, a player can sandbag early in the year to start the season with an inflated handicap, which helps him if the initial number forms the basis for the season-long competition.  On the other side, a player can play well in special events, yet sandbag enough to keep his handicap static throughout the season.  So no matter how the rules are set up initially, a cheater can find a way to get an edge.

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3 hours ago, billchao said:

It works both ways, doesn’t it? If a guy got worse over the summer and is a 15 now, playing net would mean he gets strokes. I feel a championship should be won by the guy playing the best golf and not simply because he won a few extra holes because he got strokes on them.

Yes, but there are some safeguards against this. Specifically, you can set the handicap at the golfers' 6 month or 12 month "low index," and have them play to whatever their LI is at the time. This is how our club operates our match play championships, which run over the course of 4 months.

This means that the golfer who shows drastic improvement will not completely outclass the field within his flight, but the golfer whose game has fallen apart won't automatically get those additional strokes.

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3 hours ago, Big C said:

Yes, but there are some safeguards against this. Specifically, you can set the handicap at the golfers' 6 month or 12 month "low index," and have them play to whatever their LI is at the time. This is how our club operates our match play championships, which run over the course of 4 months.

This means that the golfer who shows drastic improvement will not completely outclass the field within his flight, but the golfer whose game has fallen apart won't automatically get those additional strokes.

That’s still biased against improvement, isn’t it? The guy who is now a 6 has to play as a 6 and everyone else gets to be 11 or whatever. And as @DaveP043 pointed out, there are still ways to manipulate that system for an advantage.

I think it’s fair either way as long as the rules are established beforehand and don’t change halfway through the tournament. Personally I don’t think I’d have a problem with either setup, but I’m not the one playing. If my opponent was a legitimate 11 when we started and by the time we play each other he’s a 6, then kudos to him for getting better.

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1 hour ago, billchao said:

That’s still biased against improvement, isn’t it? The guy who is now a 6 has to play as a 6 and everyone else gets to be 11 or whatever. And as @DaveP043 pointed out, there are still ways to manipulate that system for an advantage.

I think it’s fair either way as long as the rules are established beforehand and don’t change halfway through the tournament. Personally I don’t think I’d have a problem with either setup, but I’m not the one playing. If my opponent was a legitimate 11 when we started and by the time we play each other he’s a 6, then kudos to him for getting better.

Perhaps, but to a much lesser extent. Anecdotally, when tournaments use the Low Index, about two thirds of the field is playing off an index that is higher than their LI. Meaning that the guy who is playing his best golf of the year still has a significant advantage. Maybe not 5 strokes over the field, but usually 1 or 2.

And sandbagging does become quite a bit harder when using the LI. It's never impossible, of course. But you have to be a REALLY dedicated sandbagger (cheater?) to keep your index inflated above your true abilities for that length of time.

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