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Are handicaps unfair?


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3 minutes ago, EasyPutter said:

Echoing apologies as this will not directly respond as I don't bet because of lessons learned long ago.

Just like "ask any 10 people what they saw or think and it is usually 10 different responses" (some completely unrelated to anything), handicapping is another well intentioned construct to meet one need that cannot possibly be everything in every situation.  The lesson I learned long ago is if you don't like all possible outcomes of a game then don't play the game.  Life is so much better at rewarding with lemons instead of brass rings.

Handicap on my SwingU app works just fine for MGS profile and conversation with golfers.  Beyond that it is meaningless because I just golf to golf preferably with friends, and if some challenge is in need of a reward custom has always been to buy the next coffee.  

Did have a guy put in my twosome on Friday who at one point wagered who could pitch onto the green closest to the pin and I must say it just felt wrong and an invasion of my enjoyment of playing the game and soured the round, but I am sure that was only my own reaction.  To each their own 🏌️‍♂️⛳

I don't mind pocket change, fun stuff, but "real money" and systems that can (are) gamed just tends to sour it for me too.  We even have one hole at Las Barancas (#15) where the tee shot that finds the lowest elevation in the fairway wins .25 😆  I have no idea who thought that one up, but it is kind of fun.

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2 minutes ago, EasyPutter said:

Echoing apologies as this will not directly respond as I don't bet because of lessons learned long ago.

Did have a guy put in my twosome on Friday who at one point wagered who could pitch onto the green closest to the pin and I must say it just felt wrong and an invasion of my enjoyment of playing the game and soured the round, but I am sure that was only my own reaction.  To each their own 🏌️‍♂️⛳

 

... I have said before I don't bet because I don't like giving other people my money and I really don't like taking theirs. Folks always seem a little perplexed when they want to include me in their betting and I decline when it is as little as a quarter a hole "just to keep it interesting". My interest is shooting my lowest score while enjoying the camaraderie and all that nature provides while walking 5-7 miles shared with all the animals that call the desert home. 

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7 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

There's a much larger population of guys getting a fair number of strokes, its completely logical that a larger population has a better chance to produce a winning score.  

 

... As many know it is sooooo much easier to drop you index from an 18 to a 10 than it is to drop your index from a 5 to a +3.  So it isn't a question of percentages, it is a question of how far under your index is your score? Low single digit players by and large do not often 3 putt while high index players do. But in any given outing a high index player can shoot 10 under their "normal" score simply by not making big mistakes and having a good putting day. Not making big mistakes and having a good putting day is the norm for a low single digit player so there is little chance to go lower. There is so much more room from 95 to 85 and so little room from a 75 to a 65. As you know the lower the index the harder it is to shoot below it. So normally shooting a 95 it is very possible for that player to shoot an 85 on any given day, while virtually impossible for someone normally shooting around 73 to shoot a 63. It has been my experience that if you have 20 high index players, several of them will have a carer day but give me 20 players at 5 or below and there is a 99% chance none of them will beat their lowest score ever. 
 

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3 minutes ago, chisag said:

As you know the lower the index the harder it is to shoot below it

As far as I'm aware, the statistics will show that most players will shoot net par or better around 20% of the time, no matter what handicap level they're at.  I agree that better players are generally less volatile than higher handicappers, so the chances a 20 will shoot -5 net are much greater than a 1 shooting -5 net.

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1 minute ago, DaveP043 said:

As far as I'm aware, the statistics will show that most players will shoot net par or better around 20% of the time, no matter what handicap level they're at.  I agree that better players are generally less volatile than higher handicappers, so the chances a 20 will shoot -5 net are much greater than a 1 shooting -5 net.

 

... My experience is anecdotal from putting together over 20 outings but it was always a high index player that had a career round and carded the lowest net. Doesn't really matter that 80% of the high index players more or less played their normal game but just the 2-3 that had a really good day. I should add that I did not have the ability or desire to double check indexes and some may have fudged or out right sand bagged but I shot in the 60's several times and did not come close to their net scores. My normal pard playing to a 5 at the time shot his lowest score ever with a 70 playing out of his mind and lost by 3. Which again was the main reason I stopped having a big pay out for low net and came up with other criteria for winnings. My favorite was "long drive" when someone from Ohio drove to our outing in Chicago and figured they deserved the $50. Thankfully everyone agreed.  

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1 hour ago, chisag said:

 

... My experience is anecdotal from putting together over 20 outings but it was always a high index player that had a career round and carded the lowest net. Doesn't really matter that 80% of the high index players more or less played their normal game but just the 2-3 that had a really good day. I should add that I did not have the ability or desire to double check indexes and some may have fudged or out right sand bagged but I shot in the 60's several times and did not come close to their net scores. My normal pard playing to a 5 at the time shot his lowest score ever with a 70 playing out of his mind and lost by 3. Which again was the main reason I stopped having a big pay out for low net and came up with other criteria for winnings. My favorite was "long drive" when someone from Ohio drove to our outing in Chicago and figured they deserved the $50. Thankfully everyone agreed.  

I read a really thorough statistical study on this whole handicap and various games.  The bottom-line was that, presuming accurate indexes are in play, high handicaps had better odds of bringing home the bacon. I think @revkevnailed it with the handicap system wasn't intended for games like skins. It's much like a mid to high handicap player odds against a scratch golfer on KP's from 160+ yard par 3's... the odds are not in their favor.

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13 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

I read a really thorough statistical study on this whole handicap and various games.  The bottom-line was that, presuming accurate indexes are in play, high handicaps had better odds of bringing home the bacon. I think @revkevnailed it with the handicap system wasn't intended for games like skins. It's much like a mid to high handicap player odds against a scratch golfer on KP's from 160+ yard par 3's... the odds are not in their favor.

Do you have a link to the study?  I know I've read stuff over the years, but I don't have specific data I can reference.  It would be great if we could all look at the same information.

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14 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

Do you have a link to the study?  I know I've read stuff over the years, but I don't have specific data I can reference.  It would be great if we could all look at the same information.

I don't Dave.  I seem to recall having linked it in another handicap related thread a couple years ago but maybe not.  Our AZ group had been playing a handicap skins event at Yuma CC and most of us felt like it was heavily sandbagged as the same several players were marching up to the bar to collect booty.  Among the 8 or so of us that played in the event, we did take a few prizes, but it seemed like a pattern had emerged.  Just for grins, I started looking into the subject and found the article/study - but never saved it. 😐

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8 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

I don't Dave.  I seem to recall having linked it in another handicap related thread a couple years ago but maybe not.  Our AZ group had been playing a handicap skins event at Yuma CC and most of us felt like it was heavily sandbagged as the same several players were marching up to the bar to collect booty.  Among the 8 or so of us that played in the event, we did take a few prizes, but it seemed like a pattern had emerged.  Just for grins, I started looking into the subject and found the article/study - but never saved it. 😐

Thanks.  At the suggestion of our new head pro, our weekly men's league is doing half stroke skins this year (voluntary, not required).  I remember reading that something like 50% to 67% handicap levels make skins work out close to even, so if each player gets a half-stroke where he'd get 1, and a full stroke on the holes where he'd get 2 (CH of 19 or higher), things should be close to fair.  I'll update this thread once we get a few more weeks in, maybe we'll see some trends towards one group or another.

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On 5/8/2022 at 4:14 PM, chisag said:

My interest is shooting my lowest score while enjoying the camaraderie and all that nature provides while walking 5-7 miles shared with all the animals that call the desert home. 

Second that! 🙋‍♂️

Just replace "desert" with woods and parklands.

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41 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

Thanks.  At the suggestion of our new head pro, our weekly men's league is doing half stroke skins this year (voluntary, not required).  I remember reading that something like 50% to 67% handicap levels make skins work out close to even, so if each player gets a half-stroke where he'd get 1, and a full stroke on the holes where he'd get 2 (CH of 19 or higher), things should be close to fair.  I'll update this thread once we get a few more weeks in, maybe we'll see some trends towards one group or another.

I'm sure some tweaks like that would work, particularly with a group that is pretty well established.  

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70% seems to be a good number for skins. Our club does Gross and net skins on the weekends. Also play low gross as a skin. Without the gross side I would not play and I avoid most every net event offered. 

I just got back from a 3 day golf trip in AZ (12 guys, net skins) and I was only low handicap player. I made 9 birdies in the first 2 rounds and never even won a skin in my own group. Pretty brutal but to be expected. 

As far as the handicap being fair, I believe that it is overall I just don't think it equates down to the hole level really well. High handicappers have an advantage on a hole by hole basis. But on a full round or over many rounds Low index players will fare better. Same trip in AZ I think 4 guys beat me net on a round but nobody would have over the 3 days total. 

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On 5/8/2022 at 5:19 PM, chisag said:

 

... As many know it is sooooo much easier to drop you index from an 18 to a 10 than it is to drop your index from a 5 to a +3.  So it isn't a question of percentages, it is a question of how far under your index is your score? Low single digit players by and large do not often 3 putt while high index players do. But in any given outing a high index player can shoot 10 under their "normal" score simply by not making big mistakes and having a good putting day. Not making big mistakes and having a good putting day is the norm for a low single digit player so there is little chance to go lower. There is so much more room from 95 to 85 and so little room from a 75 to a 65. As you know the lower the index the harder it is to shoot below it. So normally shooting a 95 it is very possible for that player to shoot an 85 on any given day, while virtually impossible for someone normally shooting around 73 to shoot a 63. It has been my experience that if you have 20 high index players, several of them will have a carer day but give me 20 players at 5 or below and there is a 99% chance none of them will beat their lowest score ever. 
 

The problem at my club, is that 40 year golfers, who are at 18 hcp (once low or single digit in the past) play in matches with partners, and have times where the partner has the hole won and they out of the "net points," so they just happen to "miss" a few putts that are uncharacteristic. This maintains their handicap and still keeps then winning the match. It has gotten to the point that some of the guys "give putts" early to stop them from "missing." Our "Champ of the month/year," almost always ends with one of the these guys winning it and seldom a low cap guy. 

I have become tired of donating cash to these net events. We do have gross score as well, but the same guy pretty much wins it. It has been reported that he has a solid foot wedge game. Sad to say this but I watched one of the guys "improve" his lie myself. I don't know if it is the handicap system or the guys keeping score at this point. 

I stick to small money so I don't get too worked up about it. I don't sign up for any net events unless it is purely to get a round in on a day the course is closed off due to the event.

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On 5/8/2022 at 9:30 AM, DaveP043 said:

We play "half-stroke" skins as a side game in our men's league, an 18-handicapper will get a half stroke on every hole.  Your birdie will beat a par with a half stroke, but if that high-handicapper ties your birdie, he wins.  It evens things out pretty well.

I love this!  Have not heard of it but it's fantastic.

 

In my Monday league we do skins but you must be in both net and gross ($2 total).  If we only did Net then no low handicappers would play and vice versa. 

 

I agree that handicap is fantastic in every area except for skins.  A high handicapper can generally be bad/good on any hole regardless of the handicap number. 

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16 hours ago, Muckinfiddle said:

The problem at my club, is that 40 year golfers, who are at 18 hcp (once low or single digit in the past) play in matches with partners, and have times where the partner has the hole won and they out of the "net points," so they just happen to "miss" a few putts that are uncharacteristic. This maintains their handicap and still keeps then winning the match. It has gotten to the point that some of the guys "give putts" early to stop them from "missing." Our "Champ of the month/year," almost always ends with one of the these guys winning it and seldom a low cap guy. 

I have become tired of donating cash to these net events. We do have gross score as well, but the same guy pretty much wins it. It has been reported that he has a solid foot wedge game. Sad to say this but I watched one of the guys "improve" his lie myself. I don't know if it is the handicap system or the guys keeping score at this point. 

I stick to small money so I don't get too worked up about it. I don't sign up for any net events unless it is purely to get a round in on a day the course is closed off due to the event.

Its extremely difficult to make the handicap system work properly when there's a culture of cheating at a club.  Improving your lie is cheating, and so is manipulating your handicap.  

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16 hours ago, Muckinfiddle said:

The problem at my club, is that 40 year golfers, who are at 18 hcp (once low or single digit in the past) play in matches with partners, and have times where the partner has the hole won and they out of the "net points," so they just happen to "miss" a few putts that are uncharacteristic.

 

This makes me feel better that this is not an isolated thing at my club.  The  guy who wins our club championship has a better win percentage than Tiger Woods and I don't let up on making fun of him and calling him a cheater.  he's a great guy outside of that so I do have a good relationship with him but I also don't keep my opinion of him to myself.

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In a perfect world, the handicap system is there to allow all golfers at all levels to compete with each other on an even playing ground.  I applaud that effort.  Is it perfect?  nothing ever is.    Sandbaggers aside, there is more dynamic space for a higher handicapper to go "lights out" in relation to his/her handicap than a lower handicapper.  

My golf game lives in no man's land.  Not consistent enough to compete gross, too consistent to compete net.  I'm rarely "in the money"... and that's ok, I play because I love hitting good shots, rare as they may be for me 🙂, and challenging myself to do better.  

I came to the epiphany earlier this year that focusing on handicap is a false target... focusing on the wrong things - almost makes me justify a bogey or even a double in certain cases.  Handicap is a lagging indicator, and I figured out that improvement comes from leading indicators.  I care less now about what my official handicap is, and try to concentrate on hitting every shot the best I can, then post my gross score... someday, I hope to post low 70's or even a 60's - in the mean time I'm trying to analyze each of my decisions that lead to posting high 70's and low 80's.  The handicap will be what it is.

I'll let the other guys figure out where they get "pops" or have the Net Champion hardware in their house.

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16 hours ago, Muckinfiddle said:

The problem at my club, is that 40 year golfers, who are at 18 hcp (once low or single digit in the past) play in matches with partners, and have times where the partner has the hole won and they out of the "net points," so they just happen to "miss" a few putts that are uncharacteristic. This maintains their handicap and still keeps then winning the match. It has gotten to the point that some of the guys "give putts" early to stop them from "missing." Our "Champ of the month/year," almost always ends with one of the these guys winning it and seldom a low cap guy.

This is a storyline I frequently hear from league players.  For some, winning is that important to them.  I also suspect the amount of "handicap massaging" runs way deeper and wider than we'd like to think.  That in of itself makes the handicap system unfair.  I plan to join the men's league when we relocate to AZ, primarily to meet folks and get regular scheduled play, but a part of me dosen't want the handicap and bull-puckey that goes with it.  

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36 minutes ago, den748 said:

This makes me feel better that this is not an isolated thing at my club.  The  guy who wins our club championship has a better win percentage than Tiger Woods and I don't let up on making fun of him and calling him a cheater.  he's a great guy outside of that so I do have a good relationship with him but I also don't keep my opinion of him to myself.

Which club is that?  I know our club championship is played at scratch, and the guys who win are legitimately good players, with handicaps to match.

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15 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

Its extremely difficult to make the handicap system work properly when there's a culture of cheating at a club.  Improving your lie is cheating, and so is manipulating your handicap.  

Clearly. No one wants to say anything because of the usual, "I don't want to get involved" or that it's his word against mine...

6 minutes ago, den748 said:

 

 

This makes me feel better that this is not an isolated thing at my club.  The  guy who wins our club championship has a better win percentage than Tiger Woods and I don't let up on making fun of him and calling him a cheater.  he's a great guy outside of that so I do have a good relationship with him but I also don't keep my opinion of him to myself.

The guy I saw is fairly hot headed (and no longer at the club due to some infractions with the law) and would have been pretty aggressive if you said anything. It's hard for me to associate with people like this that I barely know. We have a couple of minor cheaters in our group, moving the ball towards the hole during early season when we are playing the ball up which I made it clear it was not okay.

  • Like 2

I'm lazy at interneting...

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