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Is this guy a sandbagger?


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  1. 1. Is this guy a sandbagger?

    • No. He plays by the Rules and posts all his scores
      6
    • No. While his style of play may be different for tournaments, the handicap formula says he is a 10-12 index
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    • No. As long as he is not varying his style of play in order to manipulate the system, he is good to go.
      8
    • No. Some other reason (explain below)
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    • Yes. The fact that his results are significantly better in tournaments is sufficient proof for me.
      1
    • Yes. By playing differently depending on whether it is a tournament, violates one of the basic premises on which the handicap system stands
      5
    • Yes. Some other reason (explain below)
      0
    • Not sure. I need more information.
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The USGA Handicap Manual is based on a couple of premises.  One of them is, "... that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played ..."

Golfer Z plays an equal number of casual rounds and handicap tournament rounds.  When he plays a casual round he is not too concerned with his score.  He follows the Rules of Golf but he doesn't grind over every hole and shot.  He never tries to make a high score but he may take chances even though he knows the likelihood of a good outcome is very low.

When tournament time comes around Golfer Z grinds.  He plays smart and doesn't take low percentage shots.  Every stroke is important.

At the end of the day, he has a 10.0 to 12.0 handicap index.  The average differential for his casual rounds is 4.5 strokes higher than his tournament rounds.  He doesn't shoot net 58's but he is very competitive against the field in almost every event.

Is this guy a sandbagger?  Why or why not?

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That's not true at all. If he plays half his rounds in tournaments by definition he can't be a sandbagger.

Quick tip:  You know who you are talking to because you just read their post, however, if its not the most recent post, it's hard for us to tell who you are talking to.  Please use the "quote" feature

How do you know his mindset? Is it you? And maybe he is just good under pressure.

I chose B-But many of your answers seem similar: Why not just "yes" and 'No"?

I think he might be posing this just as a hypothetical for some good discussion.

I think there is kind of a fine line here, but I would say that he is not a sandbagger if he is not purposefully manipulating the system. Personally I do not play in many tournaments. But when I do play in a work tournament or when I'm play for money/bragging rights against friends I do find that I play a little more conservatively (smarter). In that situation, I am playing against others. In a casual round, I am playing against myself and there is less on the line. I'd like to think that the positive and negative outcomes of any increased risk taking in casual rounds evens out in comparison with conservative tournament play.

That's not to say I don't have casual rounds where I try to play as "smart" as I can also.

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Sandbaggers will usually only post their bad scores, OR play from more difficult tees or play difficult courses starting several months before they know they'll need the extra strokes. Vanity golfers only post their best scores. Someone like the above "Z" is no different than a tour pro or similar. A casual round doesn't involve playing for his livelihood and may take more risks because of it. Unless it a real "practice" preparation round when he will put more effort into it. Once he's "inside the ropes" the conditions change and it's play or go home.
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If only "grinding on every shot" were all that it took take 4 strokes off my game every time I really wanted to...... Not sure how this one happens though. If he plays an equal number of tournament and non-tournament rounds, the better tournament rounds are going to be the 10 low differentials out of his last 20 rounds that comprise his handicap index. How does he beat that index every time? The math just doesn't add up. Getting past the math though, anyone who plays a significant number of tournaments and almost always beats their handicap by 4 or 5 strokes is sandbagging along the way......
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I don't think he is a sandbagger.  Not sure how you would categorize the round I am about to explain.  To my group, they are casual.  I play with a bunch of guys and we play a somewhat serious skins game but it definitely is not a tournament.  We aren't playing for thousands of dollars but we aren't playing for quarters either.  All of us post all of our scores.  During one of the skins game rounds, I might load up and take a chance at hitting a par 5 over water that is a distance I know I can hit the ball but don't do it ever time. Let's say that my average of pulling off the shot is better than 50%.   If I hit it fat or hook it...it's in the lake.  But, nonetheless, I load it up and go for it.  I have a chance at making eagle, or I have a chance at making double bogey or worse.

Now, let's turn it around.  I am playing in a stroke play tournament and I am "in the hunt or in the lead".  I come to that same par 5.  I would say that 7 out of 10 times, I am going to pick a club to lay up to safe yardage of around 100-120 yards then hit my 3rd into the green trying to get close enough for birdie.  I have taken eagle pretty much out of the picture and hopefully I have taken double or triple out of the picture.

So, in the skins game, I make a 7.  In the stroke play round, I make a 4.  If I do that on more than one par 5 (say it happens on 2 of the par 5s), then I am posting a score of say 86 instead of 80.

To me, these 2 different scenarios are both valid scores to post and do not constitute me being a sandbagger.

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I like the premise of the question, but I think you took it just a bit too far. 4-5 strokes is a pretty significant difference, and I would be awfully suspicious of someone who consistenly scored that much better in their tourament vs. casual rounds. As others alluded to, simply "grinding" it out isn't going to get you all the way there, so there must be something else going on for a guy who is that much better in competitions.

That said, based on the characterization you outlined in your post, no, I would not call someone who behaved like that a sandbagger. The pressure of tournament golf leaves everyone wanting to play their best game, but only allow a select few of those to consisently execute their best shots under pressure. I have a lot of respect for guys that can calm their nerves and consistently play their best golf when it matters most. I don't consider them to be sandbaggers.

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Why not just "yes" and 'No"?

Seriously.  That poll was exhausting.  A simple "yes or no, explain below" is all that was necessary.

My answer:  Absolutely not.  I can totally identify with that guy, by the way.  A lot of people in the 10 handicap range (myself included) are taking lessons to try and get better.  For all intents and purposes, every round that isn't in a tournament is a practice round, sort of.  In my case, for example, I will hit a lot more irons off of tees in tournaments because I really, really don't want to rack up penalty strokes.  Even if it means that I'm going to have to grind for a par on that hole, or more likely, settle for a bogey.  My game plan going in is going to raise my best likely score from something like 74 to perhaps a 77 or 78, but it's also going to lower my worst likely score from something like 90-92 to 86 or 88.

In a tournament, I'm simply playing to beat everybody else, and I know in the tournaments I play that a 79 or 80 is likely going to do that.  In a casual round, my goal is to shoot the lowest possible score I can.

I could alter how I play in regular casual rounds and that may lower my handicap some in the interim, but I also think that it's perhaps going to slow down my progress in the bigger picture.

EDIT:  And like David said:  If the person is playing in a lot of tournaments then his handicap will reflect that.  If he's not posting those tournament scores, well that is a whole different story.

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His handicap shouldn't be affected by these higher scoring casual rounds unless they make up the majority of his rounds and bump off tournament or lower scoring casual rounds in which case his handicap would go up.

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First, if you play in a lot of tournaments - real tournaments, I can tell you that the scenario that you laid out above is actually the polar opposite of what I'd expect to see.  Meaning that his/her tournament scores would likely be higher (possibly many strokes higher) than his/her casual round scores.

The reason why I believe this?  Simple.  Tournament pressure is difficult - plus the tracks are typically setup much more difficult than a casual round will be.

Regardless if the guy is a sandbagger, or a vanity capper... If someone can play well in under tournament conditions/stress... Then they should be deemed a solid player.  And their casual rounds shouldn't be what defines this golfer IMO.

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I voted "No - some other reason" because I don't understand the differences between all the No and Yes options, but I definitely want to vote "no."

I also think you really overstated the difference. 4-5 shots is a lot, and as others have said, the scores are likely to be higher in tournaments, and "grinding" is not going to equate to nine shots or so.

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"Grinding" doesn't ensure better scores.

Sometimes going for risky shots pays off, sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes being relaxed leads to good scores.

The harder the average player tries the more stress he places on himself. Scoring can suffer. Agonising over each shot doesn't improve chances of good scores.

If you play 18 holes and don't line up a single putt but still try your hardest, your putting results will still be fine on most days

More often than not, I find I have my best rounds when my mindset is "I'm just glad to be playing and I'm going to accept each result and then play my next shot."

I find I play better when I'm playing better players than myself because I don't want to look like a hacker. I enjoy some types of pressure.

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It looks like I'm the only one who voted: yes - the fact that he plays better every tournament is sufficient proof to me (or whatever it was...). I'm actually surprised I'm the only one to choose this. I think Golfer Z was a member at my old club. He carried an 8 handicap and regularly played to a 4 or 5 in virtually all tournaments. Everyone talked behind his back and he was labled a sandbagger by most. As some have mentioned, the math doesn't add up if Golfer Z plays equal casual and tournament rounds. Maybe a better real life scenario would be 4 casual rounds for every 1 tournament. Then, his last 20 scores would consist of 16 casual vs 4 tournament rounds. I would even argue, though, that in the 50/50 ratio given, Golfer Z is still sandbagging. If he played every round to his full potential, some (if not many) of his casual rounds would be lower than his average tournament rounds. With that, his handicap may be a full stroke lower.
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Yikes! Every round should count. Every stroke should count. Should these rounds of casual golf count?  When the two are manipulated for whatever purpose ( taking a 2-3' putt, missing 4-5" putts [never making a putt you don't need] , etc) they should not. This is why some tournament scores are not posted (balls picked up when you're out of a hole). Perhaps not. Clearly outliers. Intent or not the result is the same. I would call it both de jure which designates what the law says and de facto designates actions that occur in practice. We look the other way and the same people walk away with trophies and money. That would truly indicate a sandbagger so perhaps more information would help.

I am a sandbagger, I will stop. Well, as soon as I find a 12 step program.

Sandy Bagger®

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It looks like I'm the only one who voted: yes - the fact that he plays better every tournament is sufficient proof to me (or whatever it was...). I'm actually surprised I'm the only one to choose this. I think Golfer Z was a member at my old club. He carried an 8 handicap and regularly played to a 4 or 5 in virtually all tournaments. Everyone talked behind his back and he was labled a sandbagger by most. As some have mentioned, the math doesn't add up if Golfer Z plays equal casual and tournament rounds. Maybe a better real life scenario would be 4 casual rounds for every 1 tournament. Then, his last 20 scores would consist of 16 casual vs 4 tournament rounds. I would even argue, though, that in the 50/50 ratio given, Golfer Z is still sandbagging. If he played every round to his full potential, some (if not many) of his casual rounds would be lower than his average tournament rounds. With that, his handicap may be a full stroke lower.

Note my response above. I agree....if this hypothetical golfer is consistently 4+ stokes under his hcp when playing tournament golf, he's a bagger!

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No. If he plays an equal number of rounds, the 10 lowest are used period. That makes up his handicap index.

To further this non-issue, the exceptional tournament score formula can be employed by the club's committee.

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