Ironically the handicap system which is designed to make the game fair for all golfers is the one which is abused and makes it unfair for honest players.
I paid an $80 dollar entry fee to play in a local amateur competition, the Wingpointe Amateur yesterday. I was excited to play in this event, as I haven’t played in any state golf association tournaments like this in some time other than the Salt Lake Amateur, which is run differently. I forgot the reason I decided not to play in these state tournaments but today I was reminded why. I guess I’m back to not playing in “net” state tournaments.
I struggled a bit today, but on a tough course fired a 76. I came in as a 3 handicap and my course handicap put me up to a 4. The tournament’s flights were broken down to champ flight which was gross, handicap 0-3 and then two flights which were 4-9 and 10-X. The winner in my flight shot a net 63. If that player was a 4 handicap like me, that score differential would have been 11 and he would have had to shoot a gross 67. Likely, the player who shot the 63 was a 9 handicap who shot 72. That’s a 9 differential. Let’s take a look at the USGA’s chart showing the odds of shooting an exceptional tournament score:
|Handicap Range ->||0-5||6-12||13-21||22-30||GREATER THAN 30|
So if the net 63 winner was in the handicap range 6-9, the odds of him shooting that score were 1 in 27,877. If the net 63 winner were in the handicap range 0-5, the odds of him shooting that score were 1 in 48,219. Let’s call it what it is, CHEATING.
The winner of the 3rd flight was a 17 handicap who shot 77, one shot worse than my gritty 76. The chart above doesn’t even go as high as a 12 differential. Closest odds are one in 37,000. Yeah, that’s likely. Can you believe that two players in the same tournament both overcame odds between 1-28,000 and 1 and 1-48,000? The odds of both of those happening at the same time have to be worse than the odds of winning the powerball.
There’s a guy who USED to be in my men’s leauge. He was a doctor and quite well off financially. The reason he left our league? We started punching in his scores, low 70’s, into the state handicapping system. He flat out told us, “I can’t win any state tournaments if you guys punch in my scores.”
Here’s a guy who doesn’t need prize money. He could afford any golf gear he wanted. Yet, he still CHEATED by not posting his low scores and by not carrying a legitimate handicap so he could “win.” Sounds like a loser to me.
I remember another CHEATER I became aware of. He had registered with the local golf association a handicap card under the name “James Taylor.” Not only is that the name of a sappy guitar player/singer, it is not this guy’s name. “James Taylor” won a net event and the $700 in prize money for first place. I hope the guy gets the shanks with the clubs he bought using his ill-gotten prize money.
“Match Play Champion”
A good friend who is also very frustrated with
sandbaggers CHEATERS told me his latest bad experience. He was playing in his club’s net match play event. He made it to the championship match against a player who was a 13 handicap. That 13 handicap shot a round in the low 70’s and crushed his opponent, my pal, for the championship. Upon looking at his scoring record in the state handicap system, something which is publicly available, he hadn’t punched in a single golf score in 3-4 YEARS. He kept telling my buddy “this is the best round I’ve shot in years…” Yeah, right. You are a dirt-bag cheating liar.
Not What Golf Stands For
Cheating goes against what golf stands for. Golf is supposed to be an honorable game. We golfers police ourselves, call penalties on ourselves.
My solution is to no longer compete in competitions that
sandbaggers CHEATERS play in. That ruins it for me because I want to compete in state golf association sanctioned events. I’ve found a couple of leagues which combat CHEATERS by having their own league handicapping policies and punching in every score. I’ll compete there, and perhaps in tournaments which have “gross within flight” type competitions. That helps reduce the problem but still doesn’t stop a person who plays like a 3 but pads his handicap up to a 10.
It amazes me that people just sit back and let it happen. If you were cheated in business you’d probably take legal action. If you were cheated in your marriage you’d probably divorce. You get cheated in golf and do nothing?
Do you have any solutions? I’d love to hear them. There’s a Wall Street Journal Article which discusses a system which sounds interesting.
I think a good solution is to not allow golfers to post scores from regular rounds, or handle the posting of their scores at all. Only tournament rounds should count and the scores should be entered by the tournament directory or pro shop. That would knock out a huge chunk of the overly sandy handicaps.
The problem there h2o-boy is that tournaments/courses would lose money. Not enough would qualify to play.
A requirement for these tournaments should be that you have to have posted scores withing a certain time frame of the tournament. Say, 3 months. The guy who hadn’t posted in 3-4 years should not have been allowed to participate in a tournament if he was carrying his 17 hcp.
Totally agree. But in the case of my buddy, who raised a stink, all he got from the course and league was a shoulder shrug. Now my friend has volunteered to be the handicap chairman!
This doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem with women for some reason, at least in my experience. Most women I know don’t like to turn in their high scores, so they’re reverse sandbagging. Although I know some men that do that as well. You know, that guy who likes to be able to claim he’s a single digit handicapper but can’t break 90 most days. (This would describe my husband’s member/guest partner from last weekend unfortunately.)
When we play, there’s a lot of discussion about giving putts. I always say, “take a 10 foot putt if you want to – it only lowers your handicap”. When I say that, it’s amazing how often my playing partners decide to putt out…
I run a league for about 60 people on average. We have majors & a fedex cup type system. I combat sandbaggers by making every score mean something.
Meaning, we have 21 weeks of play, weeks 1-4 low net team wins the first major. Etc etc. This way, if someone trys to bagout on week then almost certainly they will be out of contention for that 4 week major.
I know you are talking about a single tourney system, but maybe you should look into something where the scores are handed in on weekly basis. League type play.
May make ya drink less 😉 or maybe more, who knows.
My dad is a sand bagger. I am a 3 handicap (Used to be a scratch but my game is falling the other direction unfortunately) He is a “15” Him and I played in a tournament and I played in the champ and he played in the 2nd flight. Him and I tied the first (76) and the next day he shot 78 61 net and 63 net. Surprisingly he was second in gross but won net. He always wants me to give him pops. It pisses me off like none other. He is easily a 7 at the worst
I don’t even enter my club championship any more because of the CHEATERS. The last 3 years it has been won by guys who run their own golf schools. So, they’re either ripping off their students or they are professionals. I still can’t figure out why the club allows it or least have two competitions, one for pro’s and one for amateurs.
Most leagues I have been in handle their own handicaps AND have a system in place for establishing a handicap for new golfers during the course of play. There is no reason this could not work for a universal handicap system.
h2-boy: That is provided that the players honestly punch in their scores. Doesn’t happen in statewide associations.
I Used to play Tournament Golf like 20 Years ago, and it was going on then. I stopped I only play in scramble events with my friends now. My brother told me the Old Dupont event I know the name has changed, was good at weeding these folks out. They would DQ you if your scores were too good or didn’t match your handicap. That’s Fair
I belong to a private course and the good thing is that they keep track of how many rounds you play and how many scores you enter. If they see you are playing rounds and not entering scores, you get a letter (unless you had like 12 beer during the round). Too many letters and you can’t play in any of the course tournaments. This doesn’t help with the guy who is willing to lie about his score though.
No, the league/tournament handles the posting of scores. Players do not enter their own scores.
That’s the way TOURNAMENTS work here already for the most part. It is the regular stipulated rounds players punch in to pad their handicaps, or the low rounds they don’t post.
The tournament committe, when they see someone play to a much lower handicap than what was posted, should immediately make a report and that players handicap lowered to what he palyed to. Also, tournament entrants should be required to show a number of recent scores.
Correct. That is why I was saying that the solution to eliminating sandbagging is to not allow golfers to post scores from non-tournament rounds. That is where most of the cheating in the handicap system occurs, though I have seen some guys gaming the tournament/league handicap systems too, but it is much more rare and there are penalties for doing so. Interesting side note, one of the individuals I witnessed trying to inflate his handicap during a 2 man best ball when he was out of a hole, also got caught cheating in a poker tournament. Sandbaggers are just cheaters in general.
Great article. In my experience, the only way to avoid the sandbaggers entirely is to play in the championship flight in tournaments that have no adjustment. That’s some pure golf right there. Thanks for the article.