A very personal attack

For those that don’t see the other blog I sent the following email out to the Administrators (5Points and Graham).   The intent of the email was to get the handicaps done correctly and more importantly to get it done quietly so not to embarrass Graham for getting the handicaps all wrong.  It was intended as a private email which they call “despicable”.  They chose to publish a private email that was intended for their eyes only on the member’s public blog.  They also attacked me personally in an attempt to discredit me.    Of course that wasn’t despicable.   I should also add that previously 5Points had me delete a post because it may have been taken as a personal attack on another member although it wasn’t intended as such.  However now it is acceptable to use the member’s blog to attack me because I disagree with them.   They made no suggestion of an ABAGM as required by the Code of Conduct to try to resolve this.  

For some reason they edited out the names — I have chosen not to.  I have deleted one line because it was private speculation and not fact. 

In the interest of fairness and trying to keep this friendly I feel I should warn you of what is coming.

The following members don’t have birdie accounts:  Brian, Darryl, Les, Marc, Paul, Young, Peter, Bruce K

I have abandoned mine.    Steve has one but no scores have been added.

There are certainly good reasons why a few may want a birdie handicap but some of the members don’t need or want one.   They were completely happy with the way I was doing it and there were no issues about transferability or transparency.  As 90% of the members are playing 90% of their rounds in SMAF competitions at Santiburi it was never an issue about not recording games played outside of the group.   All group scores and handicaps are recorded on the blog.   There is nothing hidden and nothing can be manipulated.

I have gone back to the day when I passed everything over to Graham and have all handicaps up to date.   The major thing I noticed was that not one of the handicaps as calculated by Graham agreed with my numbers.   We both used the same scores off the blog.   How is that possible?   In the interest of accuracy I went back and double checked.   Mine are all correct.  Graham and I differ over 1 handicap by 3 strokes — hardly a small mistake.

When I first heard about your plan to change everyone over my immediate concern was you would never get 16 people to do it right.

Egbert who is a good soldier and follows orders now has 3 very different handicaps.   Birdie (25.4), Graham (24.8), Leo (23.4).

As of yesterday’s round I have 5Points (26.2) and Graham (19.1).   If you don’t have that, then you got yours wrong.

You’ve got 2 choices.   1)  Quietly go back to the way it was with me keeping the handicaps with only SMAF rounds.  Any member requiring a birdie handicap is welcome to keep it but it won’t be valid for SMAF.   I will assist anyone requiring information why their SMAF handicap is different from their birdie handicap but only if it is requested.  Every 2 weeks I will submit updated handicaps to you to post on the blog.   or  2) You can continue down the road your are travelling into a massive shitstorm.   I will email all members about the differences.  If they don’t want a birdie handicap then you don’t really have any choice but to let them use the one I will provide for them.   Won’t that be fun and friendly?

To make my motives absolutely clear.   How do you define a little bit wrong?    Is Egbert’s handicap that is out by 2 just a little bit wrong?   I don’t really want the job of overseeing the handicaps but unless someone is found that will ensure that it is exactly right I will continue to do it.   The members deserve exactly right.

Here is the Administrators’ response:

There is a lot to unpack here, and we’ll try to do it as succinctly as possible while making our points.

Leo objects to our transition to BIRDIE and is using coercive tactics to try to force us to reconsider moving away from the handicap system that he created and ran for SMAF in the past.

Coercive tactics are unethical, and Graham and 5Points are united in our opposition to their use.  We will not kowtow to Leo’s attempt to blackmail us into changing the transition plan.  Furthermore, we are resolved that Leo will never be allowed to occupy any leadership position in SMAF ever again.  He has demonstrated a stunning disregard for ethics and a persistent inability to put aside personal animosities for the good of the group — two qualities that are essential for leadership.  That said, he is welcome to participate with us.  Leo will not be banned.

But, apart from our stern disapproval of Leo’s despicable coercive tactics, let’s take a look at Leo’s argument against transitioning to BIRDIE.

Leo has advanced the following argument against transition away from his in-house system — SMAF members won’t/can’t update their scores or can’t be trusted to input them accurately, so their handicap will be wrong, and that will be unfair to other players.

We have several counter-arguments to this, to include that the BIRDIE system is peer-reviewable, meaning that everyone can see what scores a player has posted (and we also post the scores in our blog), so if someone’s handicap seems far outside what the golfer is known to play to, any one of us can go to the blog and compare his BIRDIE scores to the blog-posted scores, and know immediately if there is something amiss.  There are over 2,000 subscribers to BIRDIE in Thailand.  That is a major vote of confidence in the BIRDIE system.

But more importantly, most SMAF golfers (and most golfers in the Chiang Rai area, with the exception of a very few excellent golfers who play to single-digit handicaps) have golf abilities that result in widely varying scores.  Most of us have scored 27 Stableford points on one day and 43 Stableford points on the next round – a range of 16 points!  When the range of likely scores is that wide, it becomes ridiculous to worry about whether a particular golfer’s handicap is 25.4, 24.8, or 23.4.  In technical terms, the “signal to noise” ratio is too great to fine tune the handicap to that level of detail.  To use Leo’s phrase from his e-mail, there is no way to know on any given day the “exactly right” handicap for any golfer with the skill level of the average SMAF participant.

On the other hand, for example, if a golfer we know shoots to a low-20’s handicap and now claims a handicap of 30, it is worth looking at the scores and determining if there is a reason for the sudden rise.  The fact is, most of us who golf together regularly have a good handle on what each other’s handicap range is, and the handicaps just don’t change too much over time.  When 5Points arrived in Chiang Rai over 3 years ago, he claimed a USGA handicap of 26.  Over three years later, he’s playing to a 28.  In reality, it would be better to characterize him as a “high 20’s” handicap.  Likewise, Graham has been stuck in the high teens/low 20’s all that time.  Leo has gone from solidly mid-teens to low 20’s but he’s had some back pain issues, so it adds up.  We all know what everyone’s handicap is.

To call someone a “cheater” or a “sandbagger” over one, two or even more handicap strokes, or to condemn a handicap system over such trivial irregularities, is antithetical to our stated purpose as a golf group:  To play golf and have fun.  It gets in the way of us achieving our goals.  It is no way to address a perceived problem with the handicapping system.

A better way to deal with a perceived error in a player’s handicap, or if a player’s handicap has not been kept up to date, is to assign the player a provisional handicap that is in line with what we know the player usually plays to, until the error is corrected or the handicap is up to date.  That is the procedure we outlined in our original post announcing the transition, and that is what we will do.  We believe the need to use such procedures will be relatively minimal.  We will always encourage our SMAF participants to avoid errors and to keep their handicaps up to date.

SMAF is continuing our transition to the BIRDIE system.  We would like the support of everyone, but we recognize there are some who may not be completely satisfied with the new handicapping system.  We sincerely believe transitioning to an independent, portable, peer-reviewable system such as BIRDIE is far better than an in-house system that allows no insight into how the handicap is calculated.  We ask for everyone’s help in making the transition smooth — even Leo’s help.  We are willing to assist in any way we can to help SMAF participants create BIRDIE accounts and enter their own scores, including walking them through the process.  We expect all participants to commit to keeping their handicap up to date and accurate, and we will encourage all participants to do so – even Leo.  However, we will not swayed by unethical practices such as coercion and blackmail.


2 thoughts on “A very personal attack

  1. Hello guys
    I can’t recal the few games I played and enjoyed with you all whether you used the usual system of your playing partner keeping your score during the round and counting your shots and you keeping theirs then each of you signing the card which is then submitted for entry into the hcp system. There’s no real better way to do it I think. Calculation is then the formula slope x score X factors etc eg the usga method or any other.

    If you want to use hcp and play competitions which I think is the most enjoyable form of the game then you have no choice but to keep each other’s scores, use one formula all the time and submit them into a system managed by a body preferably the national body for official hcp of that country.

    If not you get arguments

    Cheers and see you at Santiburi sometime


  2. I have been a friend of SMAF since November 2017 when Peter, Mike and I played 4 games with your club and have received your blogs and results of every game since and each time I await with anticipation for them.
    The three of us really enjoyed the games with SMAF and especially the concept of the skins competition and then sitting down having a beer after the game awaiting the results and not knowing what they will be until they are announced.
    We enjoyed this concept so much that we decided to back from Australia and play in the Canadian Cup and actually instead of playing golf at other places around Thailand as we generally do we decided to just stay in Chiang Rai for a month and play with SMAF. Peters had to pull out due to medical issues so there will be Mike and I and arriving Wednesday next week.

    It saddens me to read your blogs with regards to the infighting of your members over the handicapping system. Why not have a vote of all your members and majority rules as to what system you go with?

    I have been a member of Golf Club committee’s for over30 years and over that time I have seen many an argument over a member’s handicap and persons manipulating their handicaps and this is only done for one reason to win money or win prizes on the major competition days.

    After looking after a mid week competition for a number of years I can tell you that self handicapping will not work. You cannot rely on every person to fulfill their duties as this just will not happen and therefore everybody’s handicap will not be up to date for each game.
    All the clubs I have been involved with including social clubs always have a nominated person to perform handicapping which are to be made available for any person at any time.

    On the blog it was stated that it doesn’t matter whether a persons handicap is 23.4, 24.8 or 25.4 well the only time this does not matter is if you are not playing that person for money tell that to Bruce for example if the skins have accumulated on the 15th which has a rating of 6 and Bruce is off 6 and has a par for 3 points and another person who should be off 23.4 and should have had 4/3 and instead is playing off 25.4 and has 4/4. Bruce loses (I know Bruce gets a lot of NTP’s) but he should not have lost the hole.

    Anyway that’s my opinion and I hope everything is worked out between the members by the time Mike and I join you for a game next Thursday so we can once again sit down after he game have are rand enjoy your company.

    Rob Brown


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