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Elrey Desol

Playing in First "Real" Tournament - Advice Needed

17 posts in this topic

(apologies if this is in the wrong forum, mods please move as necessary)

a buddy and i just registered for an NCGA event in a couple of weeks in NorCal. we both have established indexes, and neither of us has played in a "real" tournament before. our combined experiences have been in scramble/shamble formats, with pre-paid mulligans, no accounting for handicaps, and general drunken buffonery taking a higher priority than the actual competition.

the format for our event is FourBall, and i've got a couple of questions regarding etiquette and procedure, specifically:

- is "ready golf" acceptable, or should we be following tradition and have the person "away" play first?

- regarding "honors" on the tee: is it the person with the lowest score and ascending, or the team with the lowest score on the hole?

- is it permissible to change the "batting order" between me and my partner on each hole?

- since i've got a partner in this format, am i allowed to solicit/offer advice regarding club selection, wind direction, putting line, etc.?

- when recording scores, do we apply ECS or raw score for the hole for tournament purposes (e.g. if i put up an 8 on a par 3, do i record the 8 on the card or the max 6 i can take with ECS in place?)

- am i required to play the same brand of ball for the entire round?

finally, if anyone has any general advice, or can highlight common pitfalls in this type of format, i'd appreciate it.

thanks in advance -

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Originally Posted by Elrey Desol

(apologies if this is in the wrong forum, mods please move as necessary)

a buddy and i just registered for an NCGA event in a couple of weeks in NorCal. we both have established indexes, and neither of us has played in a "real" tournament before. our combined experiences have been in scramble/shamble formats, with pre-paid mulligans, no accounting for handicaps, and general drunken buffonery taking a higher priority than the actual competition.

the format for our event is FourBall, and i've got a couple of questions regarding etiquette and procedure, specifically:

- is "ready golf" acceptable, or should we be following tradition and have the person "away" play first?

- regarding "honors" on the tee: is it the person with the lowest score and ascending, or the team with the lowest score on the hole?

- is it permissible to change the "batting order" between me and my partner on each hole?

- since i've got a partner in this format, am i allowed to solicit/offer advice regarding club selection, wind direction, putting line, etc.?

- when recording scores, do we apply ECS or raw score for the hole for tournament purposes (e.g. if i put up an 8 on a par 3, do i record the 8 on the card or the max 6 i can take with ECS in place?)

- am i required to play the same brand of ball for the entire round?

finally, if anyone has any general advice, or can highlight common pitfalls in this type of format, i'd appreciate it.

thanks in advance -

You better review the ESC rules.  If your course handicap is 10-19 then you can record a 7 regardless of the hole's par.  And based on your listed index and a typical slope your course handicap may well be between 20-29, in which case you can record up to an 8 on any hole, regardless of par.  In fact there is no course handicap at which you would be restricted to a 6 on a par 3.   It is only course handicaps of 9 and below that have a limit based on par (double bogey), and so it is a quirk of the system that one is either limited to a 5 if a 9 or lower, or limited to a 7 if you are at 10 or above (and 8 if 20 or above).  All course handicaps, not indexes, of course.

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Originally Posted by turtleback

You better review the ESC rules.  If your course handicap is 10-19 then you can record a 7 regardless of the hole's par.  And based on your listed index and a typical slope your course handicap may well be between 20-29, in which case you can record up to an 8 on any hole, regardless of par.  In fact there is no course handicap at which you would be restricted to a 6 on a par 3.   It is only course handicaps of 9 and below that have a limit based on par (double bogey), and so it is a quirk of the system that one is either limited to a 5 if a 9 or lower, or limited to a 7 if you are at 10 or above (and 8 if 20 or above).  All course handicaps, not indexes, of course.

thanks for the note. for this tournament, the max index to be used is 18.3, regardless of actual index. i'll have to check as to how this relates to the course handicap.

to the point: when writing down the score for the hole, is the ECS used at all, or is it raw score for the hole?

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Originally Posted by Elrey Desol

(apologies if this is in the wrong forum, mods please move as necessary)

a buddy and i just registered for an NCGA event in a couple of weeks in NorCal. we both have established indexes, and neither of us has played in a "real" tournament before. our combined experiences have been in scramble/shamble formats, with pre-paid mulligans, no accounting for handicaps, and general drunken buffonery taking a higher priority than the actual competition.

the format for our event is FourBall, and i've got a couple of questions regarding etiquette and procedure, specifically:

- is "ready golf" acceptable, or should we be following tradition and have the person "away" play first?

- regarding "honors" on the tee: is it the person with the lowest score and ascending, or the team with the lowest score on the hole?

- is it permissible to change the "batting order" between me and my partner on each hole?

- since i've got a partner in this format, am i allowed to solicit/offer advice regarding club selection, wind direction, putting line, etc.?

- when recording scores, do we apply ECS or raw score for the hole for tournament purposes (e.g. if i put up an 8 on a par 3, do i record the 8 on the card or the max 6 i can take with ECS in place?)

- am i required to play the same brand of ball for the entire round?

finally, if anyone has any general advice, or can highlight common pitfalls in this type of format, i'd appreciate it.

thanks in advance -

When you say four ball as the format, I'm assuming you mean four ball, better ball stroke play. Ie. you've got a partner, there's no individual competition and you're playing with another pair but not match play.

The committee running the competition may suggest guidelines on ready golf but there is no penalty under the rules of golf for playing out of turn in stroke play regardless. So there's nothing to stop you playing ready golf should all 4 players be happy with it, just suggest it on the first tee and see what the rest of the group say. However etiquette says that if one or more members of the group want to play in turn then you really should honour that request.

The honour goes to the team who scored lowest nett on the previous hole, and each team may choose to play in any order (changing as they please). Again though this is etiquette and not mandated by the Rules of Golf.

You may offer and receive advice from your playing partner.

You should always record the gross strokes taken on your scorecard. ESC only comes into play for handicapping and if you turn in a scorecard with a number lower than the gross strokes taken for a hole you should be disqualified. You only need to record the score for the player who holes out with the lowest nett score. In fact, if your partner has a nett score that you can't beat, you should pick up your ball (etiquette, no penalty for disregarding).

There is nothing in the rules about the ball you must play, however a condition of competition may be set by the committee but this normally only happens in high level tournaments. Be aware that you may only change ball at certain times according to the Rules, however when permitted you may change to any type of ball.

A tip I'd give you is to make sure that you've very clearly marked your ball if you don't already. And put a different mark on any provisionals you play too.

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My advice for tournaments, especially in a four ball format, be aggressive!  When it's a tournament and every stroke counts, too many times people will shorten their backswing and follow through, decelerate on their chip shots, putt it half way to the hole...  Don't fall into that trap.  Get your ball to the hole.  Take a nice, powerful swing, make an aggressive chip, putt it by the hole (not too far now!) relax, and have fun.

Also, whatever club you're using on the first tee - make that the club you hit last on the range.  That way you can carry it over and have a good chance of making a good swing right from the start.

And all those 2 footers you've been stabbing at or one-handing towards the cup - those count extra if they don't go in!  In a tournament, you have to be careful with every putt - even the short ones. You have a little cushion as you have a partner.  So you can take a few chances if your partner is in good shape.

Good luck!

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Originally Posted by Elrey Desol

thanks for the note. for this tournament, the max index to be used is 18.3, regardless of actual index. i'll have to check as to how this relates to the course handicap.

to the point: when writing down the score for the hole, is the ECS used at all, or is it raw score for the hole?


You write down the actual score.  But then before you post the score for handicap purposes (remembering to post it as a tournament round, although the tournament committee may be posting it for you, so check) you have to adjust by subtracting any strokes that caused a hole score to exceed your ESC.

Let's say your course handicap was 21 and you shot an actual 92 which included a 9.  You would turn in the 92 for the tournament but you would post a 91 for handicap purposes.

Good luck in the tourney - let us know how it went and how you liked it.  I'm hoping to play in a couple of SCGA one-day events this summer.

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Elrey, where is the tournament?  Another NorCal guy here.

Anyhow, I played in an NCGA fourball championship last year.  Typically you have the ability to ask the officials any questions before you tee off.  But in general, on the tee you or your partner can go first if you have the honors...it doesn't matter whose score you used to gain the honors.

Another tip is that if your team is away on the green and ready to putt, you can elect to have your partner putt first even if he is not away.  So it would work something like this:

1) You are looking at 15 feet for birdie.  Partner has 25 feet for birdie.  Competing team both at 20 feet.

2) Your partner being away, knocks is to within 4 feet and marks.

3) Competitors both putt.

4) You, being away, elect to have your partner putt out his 4 footer for par.

After he putts (and hopefully sinks it), you can be more aggressive with your birdie putt.  Also, he may have potentially given you a read on the final four feet of the putt.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong on this.

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Originally Posted by bplewis24

Anyhow, I played in an NCGA fourball championship last year.  Typically you have the ability to ask the officials any questions before you tee off.  But in general, on the tee you or your partner can go first if you have the honors...it doesn't matter whose score you used to gain the honors.

Another tip is that if your team is away on the green and ready to putt, you can elect to have your partner putt first even if he is not away.  So it would work something like this:

1) You are looking at 15 feet for birdie.  Partner has 25 feet for birdie.  Competing team both at 20 feet.

2) Your partner being away, knocks is to within 4 feet and marks.

3) Competitors both putt.

4) You, being away, elect to have your partner putt out his 4 footer for par.

After he putts (and hopefully sinks it), you can be more aggressive with your birdie putt.  Also, he may have potentially given you a read on the final four feet of the putt.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong on this.

That's correct, just like on the tee it's the pair that's away instead of the individual player and thus either partner can play when one of them is furthest from the hole. But as this is stroke play, you can play ready golf. This is the rule for stroke play:

If a competitor plays out of turn, there is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies. If, however, the Committee determines that competitors have agreed to play out of turn to give one of them an advantage, they are disqualified .

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Originally Posted by bplewis24

Elrey, where is the tournament?  Another NorCal guy here.

Anyhow, I played in an NCGA fourball championship last year.  Typically you have the ability to ask the officials any questions before you tee off.  But in general, on the tee you or your partner can go first if you have the honors...it doesn't matter whose score you used to gain the honors.

Another tip is that if your team is away on the green and ready to putt, you can elect to have your partner putt first even if he is not away.  So it would work something like this:

1) You are looking at 15 feet for birdie.  Partner has 25 feet for birdie.  Competing team both at 20 feet.

2) Your partner being away, knocks is to within 4 feet and marks.

3) Competitors both putt.

4) You, being away, elect to have your partner putt out his 4 footer for par.

After he putts (and hopefully sinks it), you can be more aggressive with your birdie putt.  Also, he may have potentially given you a read on the final four feet of the putt.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong on this.

tournament is on March 3 at Indian Valley in Novato. it's been a few years since i've played there, so i'm going out tomorrow to refresh my memory.

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My only advice is to play your casual rounds of golf as if they were a tournament.  Follow all rules completely.  If you think a ball might have gone OB hit a provisional, never use mulligans, no foot wedges, and always, always putt out everything.  I have seen a lot of golfers miss gimmee putts in the tournaments I play in.  I think a lot of it has to do with most people take gimmees.  The more you can simulate the atmosphere the better you will be.

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Originally Posted by SCfanatic35

My only advice is to play your casual rounds of golf as if they were a tournament.  Follow all rules completely.  If you think a ball might have gone OB hit a provisional, never use mulligans, no foot wedges, and always, always putt out everything.  I have seen a lot of golfers miss gimmee putts in the tournaments I play in.  I think a lot of it has to do with most people take gimmees.  The more you can simulate the atmosphere the better you will be.

thanks. my normal rounds are like you described, i.e. no mulligans or bumps, hitting provisionals, etc. i usually putt everything out, but have been known to take 18" putt when given. i plan on playing at least two more times before the event, and will make sure to keep the atmosphere as "tournament-like" as possible.

**thread drift: i see you're in Clovis. i grew up in Fresno (36 years worth) and haven't played down there in a while. any new courses i should try to hit the next time i'm visiting?**

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Originally Posted by Elrey Desol

**thread drift: i see you're in Clovis. i grew up in Fresno (36 years worth) and haven't played down there in a while. any new courses i should try to hit the next time i'm visiting?**

Well, it depends on when the last time you were here.  One of my favorite courses in the area is Riverbend GC, it opened in 1999.  I played at Ridge Creek in Dinuba today. It opened in 2008, and they call it a "heathland golf experience".  I call it British Open style golf, no trees, lots of big deep bunkers and tall fescue off of the fairways. Copper River CC opened in 1993.  There is a few others, Pheasant Run in Chowchilla opened in 1998.

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well, this tournament took place yesterday and all-in-all it was a good experience. the group we got paired up with were really cool and friendly, and the whole tournament had a more relaxed feel than i expected. the tournament official on site made sure to greet each group on the first tee, and went over some of the local rules for the course and the format of the event. he had pre-printed some guidelines to speed up play (e.g. take an "X" if you're putting for a 9 and your partner is putting for par), though we still clocked in at just over 5 hours.

and while it was a worthwhile experience, i'm not sure if i could have played any worse than i did yesterday. example:

Hole 1 - Par 5

- flat topped a drive about 50 yards, just past the red tees

- full swing with a 5hybrid which i topped again, and it completely buried in the soft turf about 2" from the original position

- dug it out of the turf taking an unplayable lie penalty, dropped, swung and completely whiffed

- finally made contact, and moved the ball some 150 yards up the fairway

- took two more shots to reach the green, at which point i picked up and tended a flag like it's never been tended before

lather, rinse, repeat for the next 5 hours. not sure what i would have shot on my own ball, due to so many "X" on my line of the scorecard, but it must have been something like 115. lost about 9 balls in the process, so that was just additional insult to injury on the wallet.

on the positive side, i did missed an eagle putt on 18 (short-ish par 5) by about an inch, so a kick-in birdie to finish (and a few pints in the clubhouse after) eased a little bit of the embarrassment and pain.

i guess the good thing is that while i played so shitty, i am even more motivated to get out and play again, and improve on this effort.

take that Rory.

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Originally Posted by Elrey Desol

Hole 1 - Par 5

- flat topped a drive about 50 yards, just past the red tees

That's the absolute worst!  I used to be like that a couple years ago.  It really took a lot of practice to get the nerves out of my system for tournament/competition play.

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Originally Posted by Elrey Desol

well, this tournament took place yesterday and all-in-all it was a good experience. the group we got paired up with were really cool and friendly, and the whole tournament had a more relaxed feel than i expected. the tournament official on site made sure to greet each group on the first tee, and went over some of the local rules for the course and the format of the event. he had pre-printed some guidelines to speed up play (e.g. take an "X" if you're putting for a 9 and your partner is putting for par), though we still clocked in at just over 5 hours.

and while it was a worthwhile experience, i'm not sure if i could have played any worse than i did yesterday. example:

Hole 1 - Par 5

- flat topped a drive about 50 yards, just past the red tees

- full swing with a 5hybrid which i topped again, and it completely buried in the soft turf about 2" from the original position

- dug it out of the turf taking an unplayable lie penalty, dropped, swung and completely whiffed

- finally made contact, and moved the ball some 150 yards up the fairway

- took two more shots to reach the green, at which point i picked up and tended a flag like it's never been tended before

lather, rinse, repeat for the next 5 hours. not sure what i would have shot on my own ball, due to so many "X" on my line of the scorecard, but it must have been something like 115. lost about 9 balls in the process, so that was just additional insult to injury on the wallet.

on the positive side, i did missed an eagle putt on 18 (short-ish par 5) by about an inch, so a kick-in birdie to finish (and a few pints in the clubhouse after) eased a little bit of the embarrassment and pain.

i guess the good thing is that while i played so shitty, i am even more motivated to get out and play again, and improve on this effort.

take that Rory.

Good story.  You'll be a lot more comfortable next time out.

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I've just started playing in some tournaments sponsored by the Florida amateur association, the FSGA.  My first one was a train wreck.  The guys I played with were pretty good so I was intimidated, and I just wasn't right mentally.  It should serve you well that you're playing with someone you know.  It should help keep you from getting nervous and whatnot.  I'm not typically a nervous type, and I didn't "feel" nervous before we started.  But every shot that wasn't in the fairway or on the green, I saw as a disappointment, and I got frustrated quickly.  I'm hoping I get used to it because I really do enjoy the competition formats, and believe that they will make me a better golfer.  Good luck!

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Tournaments are tough cognitively.  I played in my first one two years ago.  I got off the first tee OK in the fairway and the proceed to shank my approach shot.  I somehow pulled it together and was on pace for about an 84-85 which was pretty good given my swing at the time.  Things took a rough turn on 18 though.  I snap hooked one into the Fescue and the proceeded to play a provisional with the same result.  Figured I would find one of them.  Nope, I had to go all the way back to the tee and play a third into the fescue again, found it luckily, and hacked it out.  Needless to say I took a 10 on the hole.  Crap happens, you just gotta have fun with it.  Keep playing in them and you will improve, I think that first one is very tough though.

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