Do handicaps need to be correct?

To give this some context — remember these 2 statements by 0Points.

Most of us have scored 27 Stableford points on one day and 43 Stableford points on the next round.  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.


The person who “dropped anchor” by avoiding getting 30 or over was well within his rights to do so.  Not a winning strategy long term.

I will refer to this golfer as “Tom” which is not his real name.   Tom was in my group at the city wide competition at Waterford last January 31st.   Tom is honest and someone that takes his golf very seriously.  We were one of the first groups finished and Tom handed in his score of net 72.   The scorekeepers (not the organizers) questioned his handicap.   Tom hadn’t been in Chiang Rai for about 2 or 3 years and didn’t have a local handicap.   After admitting that he didn’t have a verifiable handicap and confessing that he had 42 points a couple of days earlier the scorekeepers immediately cut his handicap and gave him a score of net 74.   The scorekeepers have a history with Tom so it wasn’t a surprise to me that they had done this even without discussing it first with the tournament organizers.  As it turned out someone did come in with a net 71 so Tom wasn’t screwed out of the win and wasn’t upset by it.   I brought this up with the organizers at a later date stating that it was wrong to cut someone after he handed in his score when it looked like he could be the winner.   It could have bit them in the butt.  There has been no point in mentioning this again UNTIL NOW.

The winner was someone that was recently referred to as a “serial trophy collector” (“STC”).  His handicap in November 2017 was 5 — Dec 6th it went up to 6 — Dec 30th up to 7 — and Jan 18th (just over a week before the tournament) it went up to 9.   He then played twice before the big competition.   Jan 27th (no skins game) and got 42 points.  Jan 29th (skins game) he got 38 points.  Why was Tom’s handicap cut for getting 42 points that week but not STC?   Do you think a handicap that went up 4 strokes in 20 rounds over 2 months didn’t make a difference to the competition’s results?

STC had a regular side bet going with 0Points.   If one of them failed to get 30 points the bet was cancelled saving the loser 100 baht.   For the 10 rounds preceding the Jan 18th handicap calculation STC failed to get 30 points in 5 of the rounds.  For the 5 of the 20 rounds preceding the city competition there wasn’t a skins game — his scores were 80, 77, 80, 80, 75 — no skins, no bad rounds.  As I see it STC’s handicap went up 4 strokes in 2 months because of the side bet and the skins game.  STC’s handicap at the tournament was certainly more dubious than Tom’s.  For the first 2 years I played with STC I was in charge of the handicaps.   I stuck his handicap on 6 and didn’t need to raise it — he was winning consistently. 

The point of this posting isn’t to dump on STC.   He played with the handicap that was assigned to him, played within the terms of the side bet and played within the terms of skins strategy.  0Points, SMAF’s Specialist in Failure, doesn’t believe in the need for accuracy and threw out oversight of the handicap rules.  That is the problem.

A year ago the handicaps were kept by one person and were reasonably accurate but certainly not legitimate.   The flaw was the side bet and the skins game where it is best if you don’t try to get your best possible score on every hole.  The side bet which encouraged poor scores was dropped last March.  However, skins is still played — not every round as before but probably often enough to affect handicaps.

Some SMAF scores are not recorded accurately and almost a quarter of the scores don’t get recorded at all.   It got so bad that SMAF now hides the scores.  I said before the Tony G competition — “Only honestly will repair the damage of SMAF’s credibility within the community.  You will probably find that some honesty for once will probably shut me up for good.”   Now one of your members was labelled (not by me) a “serial trophy collector”.

There are golfers that play in city competitions for the social aspect of it and don’t care about handicaps.   There are others that enjoy the competitive aspect and expect it to be fair.   I know there are 2 or 3 golfers that didn’t play in the Tony G competition simply because they knew they had no chance of winning.   I predicted the winner before the first ball was hit.  It was that obvious. 

Previously I have suggested that one person be responsible for recording everyone’s score as well as go back to posting all the scores.  It hasn’t been done and no one has said why it is unacceptable.  Why doesn’t SMAF do it right and give non-SMAF members like Tom a chance to win the competitions?