Another Post on Handicaps

“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….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.”

Yes, I have to go back to that quote again.   When I first read it I thought it was one of the most stupid things I have ever read about handicaps.   THEN,  someone whom I consider to be quite intelligent told me this week that he agrees with the statement.

The purpose of handicaps is to try and make it as absolutely fair as possible for each participant to win on a given day.   Of course no computer program or data analyst is able to determine in advance who is going to have or not have a good round.   There are 2 handicap systems, USGA and CONGU — both have large manuals with all their rules.   It is their belief that if you follow their rules you will get a fair result based on how each individual plays that day.   You must follow their rules as closely as possible in order to get it exactly right on that given day.   Neither system is perfect but one or the other is accepted by nearly 100% of the world’s golf organizations.   (Note:  that is more than the 2000+ golfers that use BIRDIE).

The difference between 25.4 and 23.4 is 2 stokes.  I recently determined that if I use the BS-hcp I would get 2 more strokes than using the USGA handicap that I had posted.   As this is acceptable to the SMAF Administrators I did so.   The 2 more strokes were on holes #2 and #18 which on the 2 days I used this handicap I was lucky enough to par (for 4 points).  I also won the Stableford on Monday by 2 strokes.  A profit of 1560 baht in the skins game over the 2 days which was used to buy beer for those that competed without BS-hcps.  Of course I am not going to get par on #2 and #18 every day but even once every 2 rounds is still a nice advantage.  The fact of the matter is that the BS-hcps are usually a stroke higher for each member and if you throw in a Happy City or Waterford score you can get it up another stroke.

The Administrators keep bringing up “Fun and Friendly”.   I would advise them that in my 18 years of playing with various groups I have found there to be 2 issues that are fun killers.   One, is cheaters and two, is the perception that handicaps aren’t correct.   It is my observation that the Administrators think ignoring those issues make it more “fun and friendly.”

Here are my analogies. 

  1. USGA handicaps using SMAF only scores.   “The Crystal Clear Pool”  .  Only rounds played as SMAF competitions are included.  All other rounds don’t count.   Counting non-SMAF rounds is peeing in the pool.   One person is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the pool.  This worked very well for over 3 years with no conflicts.  Our handicaps were accepted on the rare occasions we played elsewhere.
  2. Chiang Rai Golfers — CONGU handicaps.  “The Public Urinal” .  As both Waterford and Happy City are not rated they are not able to maintain a pool.  Only those that use the urinal (play as CRG competitions) are included.   One person is responsible for ensuring that the urinal is flushed regularly and kept clean.  Their handicaps work well within the group and are close enough to be compatible with the SMAF handicaps.
  3. BIRDIE — supposedly the same as USGA handicaps.  “The Thai Toilet” .  All rounds that you play may be included even though Waterford and Happy City are not officially rated.  BIRDIE doesn’t tell us where they got the ratings from or even what the ratings are.   That leads several of us to suspect they just made them up.  The Santiburi rating is wrong.   Anyone playing without a BIRDIE handicap on a Chiang Rai course against someone with a BIRDIE handicap is at a disadvantage.  A Thai toilet is something we all avoid and use only when absolutely necessary.   Everyone in the group gets to use it and no one is responsible for seeing that the toilet even gets flushed.  It would work well within the group if it were absolutely necessary.  It isn’t.
  4. The World Handicap System that the new SMAF blog has announced for 2020.  It is possible that it will be the answer to all our problems.  As “This Is Thailand” I would expect that the Thai courses will not get rated and that we will not be any further ahead than we are presently. 

What to do now?

As most of the membership are not presently in town I would suggest that we decide (each day) on the first tee which handicap we should all use (SMAF(USGA) or BIRDIE). The majority wins.   (Jokingly, I pick BIRDIE as long as I am winning.)   Once the majority of the members are here (perhaps 12 or more) then we take a vote and settle this once and for all.  I am not opposed to golfers maintaining BIRDIE handicaps if they feel they have a use for it outside of SMAF events.  I am just saying we had a system that was working and when done correctly eliminated all controversy.  The Dictators Administrators have decided that the members are too stupid to know what is best for us and haven’t given us a say in the decision.