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Modified rules for a golf trip


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I've been going on a golf trip with my dad's high school friends for going on a decade.  I'm about a 16 handicap, and I'm one of the least skilled players on the grip of about 40 or so guys.  There is a lot of gambling going on between fairly evenly matched players using a handicap system, and as a result, they have a pretty basic and simple modification to the rules.  There is a triple bogey rule, and when it's raining or wet out, our leader will call for winter rules for the round.  That's basically it.  Some people are more serious than others, but if you want to play by the rules it's pretty straightforward.  Those two modification keep pace of play moving pretty well, and nobody is getting frustrated over plugged lies or mudballs, etc., when the conditions are less than ideal.

I started my own golf trip two years ago.  This trip had 16 people of varying abilities.  We had two true beginners.  One had only been on a course once, after committing to the trip.  We had a bunch of people hovering around a 20 handicap.  Then we had a few high single digits.  Managing fair gambling and rules for such a varied group was not as easy.  I decided to use my other trip's triple bogey rule as well as the winter rules, which was pretty well received.  My dad's trip is mostly people 60+, so we play senior tees in Myrtle Beach, which are often similar in length or difficultly to public courses from the whites locally.  I decided to stick with the senior tees on our trip, which was initially met with a lot of resistance, but after the trip, literally everyone agreed it was the right call after all.  I also decided to allow one breakfast ball (a tee shot mulligan) anywhere on your first 9.  For the sake of pace of play and simple enjoyment, I also instructed the beginners to improve all their lies as much as they wanted, when they didn't have a good shot/look to throw the ball back into the fairway, to take no more than one shot out of a bunker before throwing the ball out and putting.  I don't recall any further instruction, but basically, I told them to do whatever it took to enjoy the round and not hold anyone up.  

So far we've just gambled using longest drive, closest to the pin, longest putt, etc.  Eventually we want to incorporate low gross, low net, skins, etc.  My question is:  Does anyone have any experience managing trips with golfers of varied abilities, and how do you modify the rules to keep things competitive and fair?  Right now, I'm thinking about making an arbitrary cut off where I ask the very inexperienced/true beginners to only gamble on the closes to the pin, longest drive, longest putt type stuff, and then separately manage everyone else on a handicap system for low net, low gross, skins, etc.  Thoughts? 

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I have put together many trips and ran golf leagues. The participants could be from a single digit to a 24 handicap. The beauty of the handicap system is it puts everyone on an even playing field. Just make sure everyone has a handicap or create one for them based on a few scores. You can do all the work up front if you know what courses you will be playing. Just create a spreadsheet with the score card info and based on the card handicap by hole you know which holes the players would get strokes on. All the gambling can be done up front for each round. Typically everyone puts in an amount per player up front. $5, 10, whatever. Then at the end you figure out who won what. Ties can be split or carry over to the next round.  

Any rules are across the board. You can role the ball over in the fairway. One club length move if you are in a trouble area. Lift clean and place. One tee shot mulligan. But since it is handicap based you can't mess around with tossing out of the bunker after one attempt. There would be some cranky people when money is on the line. 

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Are you recommending capping gambling participants at say 24 or something similar?  When we let people self report handicaps the first year, half of the participants listed their handicap as being 30+.  Now I play regularly with a lot of these guys, and I know them to have handicaps more in the 22-26 area, but I guess that isn't particularly far off.  I delegated the keeping of scores to another friend, but we have all the handicap information now that is based on actual posted scores and if I recall there are only about 4 guys that actually played to a 30+ handicap.  I guess I could cap it at 30.  Then 12 of us could reasonably compete while the other 4 only pay and compete for longest drive, closed to the pin, longest putt, etc.  I don't think I'd get a ton of pushback about not having the 30+ guys compete fully, or allowing them to play based off of modified rules just to make things easier/more fun.  

I suppose I could also make it elective.  Explain the rules and let the higher handicaps choose to gamble and play by the rules, or not gamble and play by more lax rules.  To better explain the lax rule necessity, consider a 30+ handicaps round.  On a par 4, let's say they slice their tee shot OB.  On their third shot, they drop about where it went out, punch out.  Top the ball.  Advance the ball 80 yards.  Advance the ball a short ways again.  Then have to pick up before reaching the green.  That's not a recipe for fun.  When I had a true beginner in my group, I'd have them take a tee shot.  If it wasn't playable, they'd hit their second shot from wherever the best ball ended up in our foursome.  Then if they were getting close to triple bogey, they'd pick up and at least get a chip and putt to get the practice in.  Now I appreciate that they didn't even really play the hole, let alone follow the rules that way, but they did get to hit a tee shot, fairway shot, a chip, and a putt minimum, which gives them more of a feel for playing golf in my opinion.  The true beginners really did seem to enjoy playing that way, and it doesn't hold anyone up.  Seems like a win-win.  

That said, playing that way wasn't for everyone.  We had another true beginner that basically hit 7 iron off every tee, and just kept at it until he was at triple every hole.  He seemed to enjoy getting the practice in, and although he rarely got to practice chipping or putting, he seemed to have a great time just banging away at the 7i.  He did manage a closest to the pin win on about a 140 yard part 3.

Anyway, I guess my point is that I basically let the true beginners do whatever it took to enjoy the rounds as long as they didn't hold anyone up.  I like your idea about a hard cap.  I think 30 would work given our handicap data.  Then below that I could make gambling optional.  

 

 

 

Titleist 913D2

Ping G2 3W

Ping G2 3H 18*, 4H 22*

Mizuno JPX900

Cleveland CBX 56, 60

Odyssey White Hot RX #2

Snell MTBX

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