2020 Golf Thread

Heh. It's funny, I had this weak-ass fade going today which felt pretty terrible but which had the advantage of at least being pretty consistent. So I never got into too much trouble, and pretty much always had a birdie putt or straightforward recovery shot. There's a lot of virtue in that. (And I did have a few decent birdie chances, although all of the putts I made were for pars.)

Incidentally, I did rediscover something which some of you might find helpful - I had a mostly blind 8-iron shot into the par-4 13th (actually my third shot on the hole, after finding a fairway bunker and pitching out), and I was struggling to find an aiming point given how murky the horizon was. So instead of picking a line on the crest of the hill between me and the hole, I picked a sandy divot in the fairway a few feet in front of me which was perfectly in line with where I wanted to start the ball, and that worked amazingly well - I don't think it's a coincidence that it was on this particular shot that I hit the ball to within two feet of the hole. Of course, I missed the putt, but still.
 

BaseballJones

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You need to spice up your golf experience, my friend. You need a few numbers higher than 5. You need to experience the *whole* golf course. There's some beautiful woods (maybe not where you play if you're only on links courses) and water to explore. Tee-to-fairway-to-green golf is just so....blah.

LOL
 

jercra

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You need to spice up your golf experience, my friend. You need a few numbers higher than 5. You need to experience the *whole* golf course. There's some beautiful woods (maybe not where you play if you're only on links courses) and water to explore. Tee-to-fairway-to-green golf is just so....blah.

LOL
I'm currently a 2.2 so I make my fair share of birdies and pars, but I've been noticing lately, while playing with a lot of good players, that I play a "difficult" game of golf while others play an "easy" game of golf. I constantly make pars and birdies from stupid places, make 10-15 foot saving putts, up and down, etc. while others I play with are fairway, green, 2 putt and never look like they'll ever make a bogie. I just 41/33 on Sunday, for example. There's more than one way to see the whole course :)
 
By the by, since the lockdown ended here I've been posting all of my scores to thegrint.com, mainly to keep a record of what I've been doing - but also to see what my handicap would be under the new universal system we'll be transitioning to soon. I have one score still to enter before I'm up to my official 20, but apparently, whereas in real life I'm a 4.8 in the UK system, apparently I'm a 1.0 in the best-8-of-20 system, even though my average score is 76.6. Definitely NOT a fan of the new system - not that I thought I ever would be, but still. (I mean, it's flattering to think I can say I'm a one-handicapper, but I'm really not.)
 

jercra

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By the by, since the lockdown ended here I've been posting all of my scores to thegrint.com, mainly to keep a record of what I've been doing - but also to see what my handicap would be under the new universal system we'll be transitioning to soon. I have one score still to enter before I'm up to my official 20, but apparently, whereas in real life I'm a 4.8 in the UK system, apparently I'm a 1.0 in the best-8-of-20 system, even though my average score is 76.6. Definitely NOT a fan of the new system - not that I thought I ever would be, but still. (I mean, it's flattering to think I can say I'm a one-handicapper, but I'm really not.)
Do any 1 handicappers think they're "playing to a 1"? I'll range from 1.5 to 3.5 all year long. Sometimes you're a 1 and sometimes you're a 5. The interesting thing about the new handicaps is how fast they change. You can go from 1 to 4 in a few days. It's more of a reflection of how you're playing most recently than the old system, which was more about how you play in general.
 

FL4WL3SS

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Do any 1 handicappers think they're "playing to a 1"? I'll range from 1.5 to 3.5 all year long. Sometimes you're a 1 and sometimes you're a 5. The interesting thing about the new handicaps is how fast they change. You can go from 1 to 4 in a few days. It's more of a reflection of how you're playing most recently than the old system, which was more about how you play in general.
+1

It's easier to go down than up in the new system, which is how it should be.
 
Do any 1 handicappers think they're "playing to a 1"? I'll range from 1.5 to 3.5 all year long. Sometimes you're a 1 and sometimes you're a 5. The interesting thing about the new handicaps is how fast they change. You can go from 1 to 4 in a few days. It's more of a reflection of how you're playing most recently than the old system, which was more about how you play in general.
I want a system which reflects my ability as a golfer. The saying "form is temporary, class is permanent" comes to mind - any system which is as volatile as the one I'm moving to (and which is so similar to the one I used to play under when I lived in the US) doesn't really seem fit for purpose to me, assuming you'd agree that the purpose of a handicapping system is to allow players of uneven abilities to play against each other on a level playing field. I mean, I'll grant the premise that the UK is an outlier in terms of the amount of competitive golf we play here, and our outgoing CONGU system can't be used in most countries. But why not count 15 of your last 20 rounds instead of just 8? Or count 20 of your last 30 rounds or 25 of your last 40 rounds, etc. Such a system would surely be more stable, more accurately reflect the combination of a golfer's ability and potential, and reduce the potential for sandbagging. As long as a computer is doing the calculations, you could even count every round from your last two years but weigh recent rounds more heavily than older rounds, which IIRC is basically how the Official World Golf Rankings work for the pros.
It's easier to go down than up in the new system, which is how it should be.
Is it easier? When that career score you posted 20 rounds ago gets wiped off of your record for good, can't you take just as big a jump up as you do when you post a low round and go down?
 

FL4WL3SS

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At the extremes, sure. I'm talking about normal, day-to-day posting. With only having 8 scores instead of 10 count, there's less fluff and more meat and it's harder to knock off good scores as often.
 

jercra

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I want a system which reflects my ability as a golfer. The saying "form is temporary, class is permanent" comes to mind - any system which is as volatile as the one I'm moving to (and which is so similar to the one I used to play under when I lived in the US) doesn't really seem fit for purpose to me, assuming you'd agree that the purpose of a handicapping system is to allow players of uneven abilities to play against each other on a level playing field. I mean, I'll grant the premise that the UK is an outlier in terms of the amount of competitive golf we play here, and our outgoing CONGU system can't be used in most countries. But why not count 15 of your last 20 rounds instead of just 8? Or count 20 of your last 30 rounds or 25 of your last 40 rounds, etc. Such a system would surely be more stable, more accurately reflect the combination of a golfer's ability and potential, and reduce the potential for sandbagging. As long as a computer is doing the calculations, you could even count every round from your last two years but weigh recent rounds more heavily than older rounds, which IIRC is basically how the Official World Golf Rankings work for the pros.
Because your ability as a golfer isn't static even from shot-to-shot, nevermind week-to-week? I know that I sure don't want to play against a 20 handicapper whose last 5 rounds were 71, 71, 70, 72, 75 just because 2 years ago he shot a 18 rounds in the 90s while learning the game or going through a rough patch or whatever. The recency bias is a feature, not a bug. It's all about your potential. Do you have the potential to go out and shoot between 72 and 74 at Dunbar every time you walk up to the first tee box? Based on your stories here, it sure sounds that way. That makes you a 1 and that sounds about right to me.
 
Because your ability as a golfer isn't static even from shot-to-shot, nevermind week-to-week? I know that I sure don't want to play against a 20 handicapper whose last 5 rounds were 71, 71, 70, 72, 75 just because 2 years ago he shot a 18 rounds in the 90s while learning the game or going through a rough patch or whatever. The recency bias is a feature, not a bug. It's all about your potential. Do you have the potential to go out and shoot between 72 and 74 at Dunbar every time you walk up to the first tee box? Based on your stories here, it sure sounds that way. That makes you a 1 and that sounds about right to me.
Sorry, but that's a pretty flimsy strawman you've constructed there - in no potential system I've just advocated would it be possible for a 20-handicapper to shoot five rounds that good. On the other hand, I shared that story a few weeks ago about my father defeating Greg Norman by three shots straight up: he was a legitimate 15-handicapper if you only looked as his 20 most recent rounds, but his potential was much better than that. Stretching the timespan in which rounds are eligible for consideration while still eliminating the worst 30-50% of them (and perhaps still weighing newer rounds more than older ones) would seem to do a much better job of reflecting both ability and potential.

FWIW, to answer your last question, my form has actually been remarkably stable this season - all 19 of my rounds have been between 71 and 81. So yes, I have the potential to go low-ish...but at the same time, it's a bit weird to me that my floor isn't taken into account at all. If two players face off in a match, and you were looking to create conditions that would likely creeate as close an outcome as possible, wouldn't you use the average of every score within a set time period rather than the average of the best 40% of those scores? I feel like I probably have an unfair advantage in a lot of the matches I play, because if I and my high-variance 15-handicap opponent both play an average or equally below average round by our standards, I'm probably going to win.

(Actually, why exactly is it important to measure potential rather than ability anyway? Feels like grade inflation to me somehow.)
 
Somehow I get the sense that you're not being faithful in this argument. Either you're being willfully obtuse or you don't understand the concept of fair play.
How so? Please explain to me why a system with a longer time horizon that includes more rounds and counts a higher percentage of all posted rounds would be worse than the current system. Is the fear of sandbagging the main or even the only problem you're worried about?
 

FL4WL3SS

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Sandbagging should be the ONLY thing to worry about.

I'm assuming you don't agree, but then again it's not surprising coming from someone that openly cheated in competition and tried to justify it away.

I don't play many net events because sandbagging is a much bigger problem than someone having a handicap that is too low.

I'll let you reason through your own logic, I'm not going to do the work for you.
 

BaseballJones

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Sandbagging should be the ONLY thing to worry about.

I'm assuming you don't agree, but then again it's not surprising coming from someone that openly cheated in competition and tried to justify it away.

I don't play many net events because sandbagging is a much bigger problem than someone having a handicap that is too low.

I'll let you reason through your own logic, I'm not going to do the work for you.
????????
 
Wow.
We went through this a while ago - I was playing a medal round at Dunbar, and in the second fairway I discovered that I'd left an extra club in my bag and had 15 clubs with me. I never meant to take advantage of the situation (I knew which club I'd meant to remove), so rather than fessing up and taking the four-shot penalty that would ruin my round before it started, I decided to keep quiet about it and silently declare my extra club to be out of play. But after talking it through here, I realized at the time and continue to realize now that at very least I should have told my playing partners and asked what they thought I should do, and I definitely wouldn't do that again.

I'm not sure what this has to do with the current discussion, except insofar as someone with a long memory is trying to win an argument through character assassination. Ironically, my primary motivation at the time was to be able to play the round counting toward my handicap without having a penalty that had nothing to do with my golfing ability ruining my score - i.e., the opposite of sandbagging. (Seriously, I wonder if technical penalties like this should maybe not count toward your handicap; it seems like that would be a very easy way to semi-legitimately sandbag if one were so inclined.)
 

BaseballJones

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Wow.

We went through this a while ago - I was playing a medal round at Dunbar, and in the second fairway I discovered that I'd left an extra club in my bag and had 15 clubs with me. I never meant to take advantage of the situation (I knew which club I'd meant to remove), so rather than fessing up and taking the four-shot penalty that would ruin my round before it started, I decided to keep quiet about it and silently declare my extra club to be out of play. But after talking it through here, I realized at the time and continue to realize now that at very least I should have told my playing partners and asked what they thought I should do, and I definitely wouldn't do that again.

I'm not sure what this has to do with the current discussion, except insofar as someone with a long memory is trying to win an argument through character assassination. Ironically, my primary motivation at the time was to be able to play the round counting toward my handicap without having a penalty that had nothing to do with my golfing ability ruining my score - i.e., the opposite of sandbagging. (Seriously, I wonder if technical penalties like this should maybe not count toward your handicap; it seems like that would be a very easy way to semi-legitimately sandbag if one were so inclined.)
Ok thanks for sharing. Yes you broke the rules. Glad you realize what you did and what you should have done. As far as rules violations go, this seems minor, considering you did not use the club and it literally did not impact your round at all. It’s not on the same level as, say, illegally improving your lie or what have you.

A rule broken but I wouldn’t categorize this as “cheating” in the spirit of the term.
 

jercra

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Sorry, but that's a pretty flimsy strawman you've constructed there - in no potential system I've just advocated would it be possible for a 20-handicapper to shoot five rounds that good. On the other hand, I shared that story a few weeks ago about my father defeating Greg Norman by three shots straight up: he was a legitimate 15-handicapper if you only looked as his 20 most recent rounds, but his potential was much better than that. Stretching the timespan in which rounds are eligible for consideration while still eliminating the worst 30-50% of them (and perhaps still weighing newer rounds more than older ones) would seem to do a much better job of reflecting both ability and potential.

FWIW, to answer your last question, my form has actually been remarkably stable this season - all 19 of my rounds have been between 71 and 81. So yes, I have the potential to go low-ish...but at the same time, it's a bit weird to me that my floor isn't taken into account at all. If two players face off in a match, and you were looking to create conditions that would likely creeate as close an outcome as possible, wouldn't you use the average of every score within a set time period rather than the average of the best 40% of those scores? I feel like I probably have an unfair advantage in a lot of the matches I play, because if I and my high-variance 15-handicap opponent both play an average or equally below average round by our standards, I'm probably going to win.

(Actually, why exactly is it important to measure potential rather than ability anyway? Feels like grade inflation to me somehow.)
That's not a strawman, that's a hypothetical. You were talking about using 40 scores or 2 years worth of scores. I've known multiple people who have gone from 20+ handicaps to single digits over the course of 2 years so your assertion that a 20 handicap couldn't shoot a 71 is just wrong (if you are including scores for 2 years). I also know someone that just went from a 4 for the past 5+ years to a 15 for the past year-ish. They could shoot a 71 at any time seeing that they've done it many times. Recency is really important in handicaps. I'm not playing you 2 years ago, I'm playing you now.

Average score doesn't work either. I assume you mean average index, since that takes course and conditions into account. But Average is sooo easy to manipulate. I mean, do you know how easy it would be for me to post a 95 every 10th round? My current scoring average in my last 20 rounds is 76.55. Replacing my 3 highest scores with a 95 moves that average to 78.65. Thanks for the 2 extra strokes.
 

BaseballJones

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How good a golfer am I? Here are my scores my last 15 rounds:

87 - 70.4/125
88 - 70.4/125
98 - 70.4/125
75 - 70.4/125
82 - 70.4/125
85 - 70.4/125
87 - 70.4/125
91 - 72.4/127
88 - 71.2/129
80 - 69.4/123
99 - 69.4/123
84 - 70.4/125
82 - 73.8/143
107 - 73.7/135
90 - 73.0/131

Avg: 88.2

Throw out the 107 and the 75 and the average is 87.8.

What would my handicap be under the regular system? What would it be under this new system? And other than "wildly inconsistent" (which is annoying, as I used to be consistently between 80-84...UGH), how good am I, really?
 
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That's not a strawman, that's a hypothetical. You were talking about using 40 scores or 2 years worth of scores. I've known multiple people who have gone from 20+ handicaps to single digits over the course of 2 years so your assertion that a 20 handicap couldn't shoot a 71 is just wrong (if you are including scores for 2 years). I also know someone that just went from a 4 for the past 5+ years to a 15 for the past year-ish. They could shoot a 71 at any time seeing that they've done it many times. Recency is really important in handicaps. I'm not playing you 2 years ago, I'm playing you now.

Average score doesn't work either. I assume you mean average index, since that takes course and conditions into account. But Average is sooo easy to manipulate. I mean, do you know how easy it would be for me to post a 95 every 10th round? My current scoring average in my last 20 rounds is 76.55. Replacing my 3 highest scores with a 95 moves that average to 78.65. Thanks for the 2 extra strokes.
I don't know if anecdotal evidence is very helpful here, for either of us. There are outliers who do improve massively or regress massively, or (like my father with Greg Norman) seem to regress for medical reasons but can very quickly go back to playing great golf when healthy. Should we construct our ideal handicap system around the extremes, or around the vast majority of golfers whose scores fluctuate within normal ranges of variance and, to the extent that they trend either for better or for worse at all, don't trend massively in either direction?

Regarding recency being important, that's one of the ideas I put forth. With a computer doing all the work, it'd be easy enough to determine your handicap by counting all of the scores you've posted over the past two years and weighing them by date. For example, on the basis that there are 730 days in a normal two-year period, one idea would be to weigh each score you've posted by multiplying it by 730 minus X, where X is the number of days since the round in question. So the score you shot 12 months ago only gives you half credit, and the score you shot 18 months ago only gives you quarter credit, etc. (There are other ways to do this that would assign more or less value to more recent rounds, although I do like the idea of a date-based system, insofar as the definition of "recency" will be very different to a golfer who plays three times a week relative to a golfer who plays only once or twice a month not counting the winter - for the latter, a score posted a year or even two years ago ago might count just as much as one posted yesterday, right?)

Regarding averages, I did mean average index, not average score. But actually...
Throw out the 107 and the 75 and the average is 87.8.
...that sparks an interesting idea as well: instead of keeping your best 8 (or 10, or 12) of your last 20 scores, why not keep the middle 8 (or 10, or 12)? Like figure skating or ski jumping, where you lose the best and worst scores and keep the average ones - wouldn't that be more likely to reflect the golfer you are more holistically than a system which only scores your best rounds?

I'm not really trying to advocate for any one specific solution, by the way - I'm really just dissatisfied with the unified solution that the governing bodies have come up with, and I'm brainstorming possible alternatives out loud. I get the whole point about why stopping sandbaggers is so important, but at the same time, in the absence of totalitarian enforcement systems which will never exist in golf, people who want to manipulate their handicaps are always going to find ways both inside and outside of the rules to do so. And to the extent that the best-8-of-20 system feels like a decent way to make sandbagging difficult - if only because you have to post 12 bogus scores that won't count before the 13th bogus score finally does count - it only seems to do so by significantly compromising the ability of honest golfers to play matches against each other on a level playing field. But at this point I'm happy to shut up at this point and wait until the UK actually implements the new system and I've experienced it firsthand, so that I'm better placed to compare and contrast it with my experiences of the old USGA system and the current CONGU system.
 
What would my handicap be under the regular system?
FWIW, I don't think we can calculate that without knowing the course rating and slope of the course(s) you've played. But I did come across this article not too long ago...
...which you might find interesting. According to the database of scores posted at thegrint.com, golfers with handicaps between 6-10 post an average score of 84.8, while golfers with handicaps of between 11-15 post an average score of 90. So you're roughly a 10 or 11, maybe? (I *think* the conclusion is that the average golfer tends to post an average score which is something like 5 strokes higher than his or her handicap.)
 

BaseballJones

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FWIW, I don't think we can calculate that without knowing the course rating and slope of the course(s) you've played. But I did come across this article not too long ago...
...which you might find interesting. According to the database of scores posted at thegrint.com, golfers with handicaps between 6-10 post an average score of 84.8, while golfers with handicaps of between 11-15 post an average score of 90. So you're roughly a 10 or 11, maybe? (I *think* the conclusion is that the average golfer tends to post an average score which is something like 5 strokes higher than his or her handicap.)
I gave the rating and slope after each individual score. I added that in after originally posting it so you may have missed it.
 
I gave the rating and slope after each individual score. I added that in after originally posting it so you may have missed it.
I did miss that - too busy typing up my handicapping magnum opus. :) But still, I don't think any of us can do that back-of-the-napkin calculation ourselves, although there are websites out there that probably can do that. For example:
 

BaseballJones

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I did miss that - too busy typing up my handicapping magnum opus. :) But still, I don't think any of us can do that back-of-the-napkin calculation ourselves, although there are websites out there that probably can do that. For example:
Ok that spit out a 9 for my "handicap index". I feel like no WAY am I a 9 handicap, not when I average about an 88 each round, or about 16 over par.
 

FL4WL3SS

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Your 75 and your 82 on a course rated 73/147 will definitely make you a 9. It's not about average score, it's about potential. You seem like a 10-12 that had a few awesome rounds, so not that far off.
 

Phragle

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How good a golfer am I? Here are my scores my last 15 rounds:

87 - 70.4/125
88 - 70.4/125
98 - 70.4/125
75 - 70.4/125
82 - 70.4/125
85 - 70.4/125
87 - 70.4/125
91 - 72.4/127
88 - 71.2/129
80 - 69.4/123
99 - 69.4/123
84 - 70.4/125
82 - 73.8/143
107 - 73.7/135
90 - 73.0/131

Avg: 88.2

Throw out the 107 and the 75 and the average is 87.8.

What would my handicap be under the regular system? What would it be under this new system? And other than "wildly inconsistent" (which is annoying, as I used to be consistently between 80-84...UGH), how good am I, really?
I don't know but we'd have a good match -- as long as you don't shoot 75. Other than the 75 and the 107 those scores look very familiar to me. I don't have a ghin, but Swing U has my handicap as a 9.3
 

jercra

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I'm not really trying to advocate for any one specific solution, by the way - I'm really just dissatisfied with the unified solution that the governing bodies have come up with, and I'm brainstorming possible alternatives out loud. I get the whole point about why stopping sandbaggers is so important, but at the same time, in the absence of totalitarian enforcement systems which will never exist in golf, people who want to manipulate their handicaps are always going to find ways both inside and outside of the rules to do so. And to the extent that the best-8-of-20 system feels like a decent way to make sandbagging difficult - if only because you have to post 12 bogus scores that won't count before the 13th bogus score finally does count - it only seems to do so by significantly compromising the ability of honest golfers to play matches against each other on a level playing field. But at this point I'm happy to shut up at this point and wait until the UK actually implements the new system and I've experienced it firsthand, so that I'm better placed to compare and contrast it with my experiences of the old USGA system and the current CONGU system.
See, this is where I think you're missing a large aspect of handicapping due to the British golfing ways. You play lots of matches so your focus is on the head-to-head when that's really a much smaller aspect of golf in the US (and likely the rest of the world). You don't need to protect me from 1 sandbagger, you need to protect me from 80 of them. In stroke play, best-ball, Stableford or really anything other than match play I'm playing against an entire field. With 80 15-handicappers at least a decent amount are going to be better than their handicaps and they have a lot more room to be better than I do. If we don't peg to their potential then I'll never join a stroke based tourney. Hell, I already feel like I have no chance in stroke play against a field with no flights.

And we've had this discussion here before, but I hate full handicaps in match play. My 4 to your 8 gets me 1 hole but adds 4 to your index. That's bullshit. I get the consistency thing, but that's not how I play golf. I can shoot 68 to 88 on any given day.
 

FL4WL3SS

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I played the quarterfinal, team net play match this evening at my club. My partner and I both played to a course 4. One of the guys on the other team, playing to a course 8, shoots even par with 3 birdies. We played at 90% handicaps. The thing is, you know when someone is having an exceptional round by their behavior (and their partner) because usually they are commenting on every shot and talking about it. This guy didn't blink an eye, acted as if it was normal the entire round. I'm a 3.7 right now and that would have been a great round even for me.

This is why we don't need to include more opportunity for folks to sandbag. It's already easy enough.

I guess I figured out why they delayed the match until 2 days before the deadline.
 

jercra

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I played the quarterfinal, team net play match this evening at my club. My partner and I both played to a course 4. One of the guys on the other team, playing to a course 8, shoots even par with 3 birdies. We played at 90% handicaps. The thing is, you know when someone is having an exceptional round by their behavior (and their partner) because usually they are commenting on every shot and talking about it. This guy didn't blink an eye, acted as if it was normal the entire round. I'm a 3.7 right now and that would have been a great round even for me.

This is why we don't need to include more opportunity for folks to sandbag. It's already easy enough.

I guess I figured out why they delayed the match until 2 days before the deadline.
The member/guest I just played in PDX last week at least used low index from 7/1 to 8/12 and they didn't tell anyone what the rules were until after the 12th. And it was flighted. In the end the overall winner came down to a playoff between a couple 19 caps and 1 playing with a +2.4 so it worked out pretty well. I think all tourneys should work that way.
 
See, this is where I think you're missing a large aspect of handicapping due to the British golfing ways. You play lots of matches so your focus is on the head-to-head when that's really a much smaller aspect of golf in the US (and likely the rest of the world). You don't need to protect me from 1 sandbagger, you need to protect me from 80 of them. In stroke play, best-ball, Stableford or really anything other than match play I'm playing against an entire field. With 80 15-handicappers at least a decent amount are going to be better than their handicaps and they have a lot more room to be better than I do. If we don't peg to their potential then I'll never join a stroke based tourney. Hell, I already feel like I have no chance in stroke play against a field with no flights.
Point of order: most of the competitive golf I play is stroke play, not match play. So I know exactly what you're talking about...and if anything, given that I normally play at least 15-20 rounds of formal stroke play golf each year, I probably have more experience than most in this regard. But I don't see any evidence of sandbagging: not once have I played in a medal at Dunbar and see a score posted that was so low as to be unbelievable. (The only competitive match play round I've had in the last decade against someone with a legitimate handicap that I thought was unfair was in a match play event at Gullane No. 1, where I played pretty well and lost 4&3 to a guy playing off something like 14 who was +3 for the round through 15 holes - but the guy in question was a 17-year-old kid who you could tell could be erratic but had loads of potential and was having a very good day, so I could understand it.)

So here's another idea: why not just make the CONGU system the global system, except changing it so that all rounds count and not just formal competitive rounds? Once you establish a baseline handicap after posting your first handful of rounds, you are assigned to one of five categories:
  • Category 1: Handicap of 5.4 or less
  • Category 2: Handicap of 5.5 to 12.4
  • Category 3: Handicap of 12.5 to 20.4
  • Category 4: Handicap of 20.5 to 28.4
  • Category 5: Handicap of 28.5 or greater
When you play a round, you use the course rating and slope along with the other rounds posted at the course on the day in question, just like the new USGA/universal system, to calculate your target score for the day - the equivalent of the "Competitive Scratch Score" in the CONGU system, so let's call it CSS here for short as well. (CSS is basically a round of net even par, as modified by the degree of difficulty of the course and current playing conditions.) In each round you have a "buffer zone" which goes from the CSS score to CSS + X, where X is your category number. And your handicap is then adjusted as follows:
  • Score is in the buffer zone: your handicap remains exactly the same.
  • Score is worse than the buffer zone: your handicap goes up by 0.1.
  • Score is better than the buffer zone/CSS for the day: your handicap goes down by (0.1 * X) for every stroke below the CSS, where X is again your category number.
For example, say you're a 22.4 handicapper in Category 4 who has a great day and shoot a net score which is 7 better than the CSS for the day: your handicap immediately drops by 2.8 (7 * 0.4), so the next day you're down to 19.6. You then post 8 terrible rounds that are above the buffer, so you're now back to 20.4. But then you have another great round which is 5 better than the CSS, so now that you're in Category 3, you immediately go down by 1.5 (5 * 0.3), to 18.9. Two excellent rounds plus eight terrible rounds equals a drop of 3.5 shots in your handicap. (Note also that you can never score worse than a net double-bogey on a hole for handicapping purposes.)

As long as you're posting all of your scores and not conveniently failing to report the great low rounds you shoot, which of course can be a problem with any system, it's almost impossible to sandbag. It does reflect your potential to a large degree, because good scores adjust it much more than bad scores - although the better a golfer you are, the less this is true, given that Category 1 golfers only go down by 0.1 per shot under CSS. But it still tracks your entire history as a golfer: it doesn't wipe out your scoring history every 20 rounds, but instead uses every score you've ever posted to create your handicap. I suppose you could argue it doesn't have a strong recency bias, but that has never seemed like a problem to me - and if it is a problem, it's likely to err on the side of giving you a better handicap than you deserve, because it takes much longer to get worse than it does to get better. So why wouldn't this work as the global system?
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
9,440
Your 75 and your 82 on a course rated 73/147 will definitely make you a 9. It's not about average score, it's about potential. You seem like a 10-12 that had a few awesome rounds, so not that far off.
I don't know but we'd have a good match -- as long as you don't shoot 75. Other than the 75 and the 107 those scores look very familiar to me. I don't have a ghin, but Swing U has my handicap as a 9.3
Ok I guess it makes sense then. I always assumed that one's handicap was much closer to the difference between their scores and the course par. So I figured that my average score being about 16 over, that my handicap would be more like 12-14.

As for the 75...that was my best round ever so I don't know that I'll see that again. I played really well when I shot 82 recently at Mount Snow in Vermont. But that's still *7* shots more. I don't have any clue where I'd have made up those seven shots either. I three putted a few times and duffed a pitch shot, but otherwise...no clue where the other shots come from.

I can't fathom routinely shooting 70-75 like some of these guys here do. Maybe I should actually take some lessons and spend some time at the range. That might help.
 

Gunca

lurker
Mar 5, 2020
13
Anyone use a line on their ball when putting? I’ve tried, but it always seems like I can never aim it exactly where I want to. The other issue is speed. When using the line, I focus so much on the line that my pace is terrible. Has anyone had any similar issues? If so, how did you fix them?
 

TFP

Tweedydee
Dope
Dec 10, 2007
18,597
Anyone use a line on their ball when putting? I’ve tried, but it always seems like I can never aim it exactly where I want to. The other issue is speed. When using the line, I focus so much on the line that my pace is terrible. Has anyone had any similar issues? If so, how did you fix them?
I had 39 putts yesterday, so I'm the last guy you want to hear from.

I've never used a line, maybe I should start.
 
How much longer do you think it takes a foursome to complete 18 holes if even one person is lining up his ball on every putt? 10 minutes? 15? No thanks.

(I tend to use golf balls like the Pro V1 that have miniature lines connected to either side of the small-print text on the ball, a sort of starter putting line if you will, and I make absolutely sure that line is not pointing anywhere close to my intended putting line, lest it mess up my mind.)
 

FL4WL3SS

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
11,530
Andy Brickley's potty mouth
Anyone use a line on their ball when putting? I’ve tried, but it always seems like I can never aim it exactly where I want to. The other issue is speed. When using the line, I focus so much on the line that my pace is terrible. Has anyone had any similar issues? If so, how did you fix them?
Figure out your eye dominance, and I mean that with 100% seriousness. Use that eye to line yourself up and verify where you're aimed.
 

FL4WL3SS

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
11,530
Andy Brickley's potty mouth
Also, a great drill for speed, especially before the round, is to pick a flat spot on the green and putt to the fringe instead of a hole. This will help you get a feel for speed without worrying about line.
 

jercra

No longer respects DeChambeau
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
2,378
Arvada, Co
So why wouldn't this work as the global system?
I'd love that system actually. I didn't know that much about it so thanks for the details. I do wish it showed more recency bias, but that seems solvable with some weighting. Ok, write it up and send it to the handicap committees :)

(I tend to use golf balls like the Pro V1 that have miniature lines connected to either side of the small-print text on the ball, a sort of starter putting line if you will, and I make absolutely sure that line is not pointing anywhere close to my intended putting line, lest it mess up my mind.)
Hey look, we agree on something!! I hate the lines on the balls. They only serve to mess with my head.

Also, a great drill for speed, especially before the round, is to pick a flat spot on the green and putt to the fringe instead of a hole. This will help you get a feel for speed without worrying about line.
In general, I hate swing aids and tools and I haven't got these myself yet, but I love the concept and how simple they are. I also love the concept of putting at the flat metal holes instead of real holes. You can get a sense of both if the line and the pace are correct.

 
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Doug Beerabelli

Killer Threads
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Aeration week! Course just opened again today, after 3 days closed. I think they putted as expected, slower of course, but not too bad. Close putts (10 feet and in) become a bit of a crapshoot, as the greens here tend to usually have a lot of break near the hole as the putt slows down, which gets messed up by the holes and striation lines. At the same time, the slower softer greens saved me some sand shots and chips from rolling out too far, so it all came out in the wash based upon my score. My son, playing his first round after a couple weeks off to heal a back injury, had 4 birdie putts inside 15 feet and missed them all. Some of that on him for not really keeping up with short game during the absence.

I'm another one who refuses to use lines on ball to putt - it messes with my mind too.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 10, 2017
1,559
I went buck wild at the golf store last weekend on our rainy Sunday and finally got fitted then bought new irons and a driver: Cleveland UHX for 4i through PW and Callaway Mavrik on the driver. Kept my old Adams hybrid 3 iron as that is always trusty for getting distance on my low punch shots under trees and so forth. I also have an old Cleveland hybrid 1 iron I am going to use until deciding whether to upgrade to a fairway wood.

Broke them in Monday playing 18 at Fenner Hill in RI that plays 70.1 / 126 and shot a 97 while leaving a LOT of strokes on the course (putting was atrocious). There was a narrow driving hole (#13) that with my natural slice I aim left of the fairway along the red stakes or I bring the roadway OB into play on the right. Well my Mavrik finally performed on that hole and played a beautifully crushed slight draw...straight into the deep wetland to the left. Can't win for losing!
 
Club Championship qualifying day! The wind was as gusty as anticipated, 15-25 mph out of the southwest, and I estimated at the start that 74 (+3) would probably be good enough and a 75 (+4) might be good enough. I played a really nervous opening hole, but redeemed myself by making a left-to-right 10-footer for par; that settled me down, and although I wasn't hitting the ball at all solidly, I managed to make eight pars and a bogey on the (easier) outward nine.

I figured the first three holes after the turn - Dunbar's Amen Corner - would make or break the round. After missing the green on the par-3 10th, I had to pitch over a bunker without much green to work with, but I got it to 10 feet and made another left-to-right putt for par: that got a fist pump. Then I hit two really decent drivers onto a corner of the green into the wind at the 450-yard 11th and two-putted from 60 feet for par. I was actually feeling almost relaxed on the 12th tee, at +1 and right in the hunt...and I promptly pulled my drive 40 yards left, into almost knee-high rough. I'm actually shocked we found the ball, and I kinda did well from there to leave myself a 15-footer for bogey. But I missed that, and then I three-putted the 13th, and then I missed an eight-footer for par at the 14th.

So at that point I was +5 and needed a really strong finish. On both the 15th and 16th I was short of the green with my approach shots and hit really long putts up to tap-in range - never looked like making the birdie I thought I needed, but I had the short par-4 17th coming up, so that was going to be the key hole. You may remember I'd triple-bogeyed the 17th in my previous medal round (when I was even through 16), and today I kinda ballooned my drive: the wind pushed it to the right, and further to the right, and it landed on the gravel path inside the hazard line and bounced high in the air, and the wind pushed it onto the beach by the ocean. My ball was in plain sight, but when I got up to it, there was a rock bigger than the ball directly behind the line to the hole, and another smaller rock to the right on the line I would have taken if I'd wanted to pitch out. I thought for a good minute about whether I wanted to risk wrecking one of my irons on a risky recovery shot...and decided against it. So I took a drop and ballooned a 2-iron up into the wind again: it landed on the same gravel path, and the wind again pushed it further right, this time into heavy rough. Sigh. I wound up making another triple, and that was that. I managed a really good par at the 18th to break 80, and probably make the buffer zone so that my handicap won't go up by 0.1, but I'm not sure what to think about this one: I definitely had a chance to qualify if I could have kept it together from the 12th to the 14th and not gotten unlucky on the 17th, but really, my score probably reflected how I played, so I can't be too disappointed. (It's not like I'm actually one of the eight best golfers at my club, after all.) But I'll be very interested to see what the qualifying score turns out to be!
 

Bongorific

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
6,284
Balboa Towers
I know some of you are much better golfers than me so looking for some tips on a few issues this season.
Background: through a connection, I’ve been playing mostly at Saratoga National the past few years. It’s a challenging, championship caliber course. Between work and small kids, I get in about 10 days on a good year. A decent round for me there is 90-92. I can shoot in the 80s at the average public/muni course.

1. I’m really struggling in the rough this year. Saratoga’s rough is not particularly tall but it’s thick. If I try to take an easy swing and pick it out I’m usually ok, but a third of the time my club gets caught up, spun, sending my shot way wide of target. If I trip to grip the club tighter, it feels like I’m muscling it out of the rough and I don’t get under the ball.

2. I am atrocious from 30-50 yard. I would rather hit from 70-80 yards where I can hit a full 58 or 60 wedge. I just don’t have a good approach or plan where I need a 50% power shot.

3.Similar to 1, I am struggling around the greens if I’m in the rough. I end up flubbing it way too often. I’m driving and striking my irons well (for a bogey golfer), but I am giving up a ton of shots if I don’t stick my approach shot. Today I shot 93 at Saratoga and yet I was probably on or within 20 yards of the green in regulation on 12-14 holes.
 
Club Championship qualifying day!
Postscript: all the scores from today are in, and my estimate was pretty much spot on. One guy shot 68 (!), but after that there were three 73s and five 74s (and then two 75s). So I needed a 74 - it was there on the table, but I wasn't good enough to seal the deal. (I finished T24 - which is OK given that there were 37 players in the field with better handicaps than mine, but still well short of my entirely too-ambitious target.)
 
I know some of you are much better golfers than me so looking for some tips on a few issues this season.
Background: through a connection, I’ve been playing mostly at Saratoga National the past few years. It’s a challenging, championship caliber course. Between work and small kids, I get in about 10 days on a good year. A decent round for me there is 90-92. I can shoot in the 80s at the average public/muni course.

1. I’m really struggling in the rough this year. Saratoga’s rough is not particularly tall but it’s thick. If I try to take an easy swing and pick it out I’m usually ok, but a third of the time my club gets caught up, spun, sending my shot way wide of target. If I trip to grip the club tighter, it feels like I’m muscling it out of the rough and I don’t get under the ball.

2. I am atrocious from 30-50 yard. I would rather hit from 70-80 yards where I can hit a full 58 or 60 wedge. I just don’t have a good approach or plan where I need a 50% power shot.

3.Similar to 1, I am struggling around the greens if I’m in the rough. I end up flubbing it way too often. I’m driving and striking my irons well (for a bogey golfer), but I am giving up a ton of shots if I don’t stick my approach shot. Today I shot 93 at Saratoga and yet I was probably on or within 20 yards of the green in regulation on 12-14 holes.
The only real tip I can give you here is that you can manage your game to try to avoid the 30-to-50-yard shot as much as possible - e.g., if you don't think you can reach the green, lay up to a yardage you're comfortable with instead of always trying to get as close to the green as you can. I'm a 5-handicapper and I struggle with the 30-to-50-yard shot; the trick is not to have to hit it. (I also struggle with thick rough, to be fair...as for the play around the greens, you might need to be more specific about the issues you're having, because "struggling around the greens" could cover a massive range of potential issues for which there can't be one single fix.)
 

Bongorific

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
6,284
Balboa Towers
The only real tip I can give you here is that you can manage your game to try to avoid the 30-to-50-yard shot as much as possible - e.g., if you don't think you can reach the green, lay up to a yardage you're comfortable with instead of always trying to get as close to the green as you can. I'm a 5-handicapper and I struggle with the 30-to-50-yard shot; the trick is not to have to hit it. (I also struggle with thick rough, to be fair...as for the play around the greens, you might need to be more specific about the issues you're having, because "struggling around the greens" could cover a massive range of potential issues for which there can't be one single fix.)
You know, that seems like a simple but good idea for 30-50 yards. I do try to think about that on par 5s but maybe I should be thinking of that on certain 4s. Makes me feel better that the range is difficult even for a scratch golfer.
As for around the green...I think my biggest issue is not knowing what to do when and how to execute. So if I’m in the rough and I have green to work with, I hit a decent flop. And if I’m on the apron I tend to do a 7 iron pitch and run. I’m not sure if I always make the correct decision. I also really struggle with short chips. If I’m off the green but the pin is relatively close, sometimes I try to use a wedge to try to get it to pop up and stop, but I frequently flub it and it doesn’t make it to the green. Or if I try to instead use a 7/8 iron I’m more likely to get it on the green but it’s going to roll way past the hole.
 

TFP

Tweedydee
Dope
Dec 10, 2007
18,597
Barring hazards or some specific reason (bad lie, etc), always try to be as close to the green as possible. “Laying up to a comfortable number” is a myth reinforced by your own selective memory bias and you’ll always be better off the closer to the green. There’s basically no chance you’re better from 100 yards than 50 yards over the long term.

Practice your 50 yard wedge shots. Hit it 50 yards 20 balls each with a 9 iron up through lob wedge, focus on making clean contact and dial back the power from there.
 
Barring hazards or some specific reason (bad lie, etc), always try to be as close to the green as possible. “Laying up to a comfortable number” is a myth reinforced by your own selective memory bias and you’ll always be better off the closer to the green. There’s basically no chance you’re better from 100 yards than 50 yards over the long term.

Practice your 50 yard wedge shots. Hit it 50 yards 20 balls each with a 9 iron up through lob wedge.
I disagree with this pretty strongly. For me, 80-90 yards and above is a full shot, or something ever-so-slightly off of a full shot - that's the swing I use all the time, and I can tweak it slightly without too much difficulty. Anything less than that is a half shot or quarter shot or 3/8 or 5/8 shot, etc., and those I rarely get to hit. If I practiced often enough, I might get that feel down to where I'd prefer hitting that sort of distance more...but I don't practice often enough, so when I have to hit a shot that distance, I'm usually making it up as I go and winging it. And @Bongorific said he only gets to play 10 times a year, or thereabouts - he's never going to get the feel of his shorter-range shots down enough to be comfortable with them. So in that context, I definitely think it's better to manage your game around those shots than to struggle through them.