You’re Now in Charge of the Handicap Committee. A “Real” Review.

JudgeWhat if you were in charge? What would you do with this golfer? It’s a “real” golfer at the club, but the numbers have been doctored just enough to disguise his identify. Would you adjust his handicap?

Here are the facts; you decide.

This golfer seems to win a little more often than other guys. He says he’s just been lucky, but how “lucky” can you get? His handicap index has fluctuated over the past year between 12.0 and 15.9. It’s currently 15.8, but he’s obviously capable of shooting better. In his past twenty rounds, he’s only had one that really stands out. He shot a 79. That’s not that big of deal for a guy in his handicap range. The USGA calculated odds are about 150-to-1 of posting a 79. He did have a little stretch eight or nine months ago where he had a couple of good rounds in twenty where the odds were in the range of 500-to-1, but that’s not all that unusual. All the other rounds have been average at best. He plays two or three days per week.

Can you make a decision on the basis of these facts? If so what is it? Leave him alone or lower his handicap?

The Handicap Committee actually looks a little closer. Here are a couple of the more esoteric factors that may be considered. Let’s see what you do with them. When analyzing his hole-by-hole performance, it becomes apparent he seems to have a little more difficulty than most golfers on the last hole. It may be coincidence. It may be that he’s just getting tired. It may also be possible that the match is settled by the 18th hole and he tends to lose his focus slightly when the putt doesn’t count for anything.

His “deviation” from his average score seems to be a little higher than the average golfer. For a golfer in his handicap range, we usually see about 70% of the scores coming in within plus or minus about three strokes from the average. In this guy’s case, the range is about four strokes. That could simply mean he’s an erratic player. It could also mean he can go a little lower when he “wants” to and a little higher when he doesn’t “need” to play well.

There are other variables that may shed additional light on the matter, but those presented should tell the story well enough. What else should be considered?

You’re in the hot seat. What’s your call? Leave him alone or adjust his handicap? If so, by how much? Why?

Now let’s remove the fact that he “seems to win a little more often than the other guys.” Let’s say he hasn’t won a nickel. Is your decision the same even if none of the other numbers have changed? What do you do if you “like” him? How about the case where you don’t like him?

Let’s hear your thoughts? I’d love to see them posted as comments for all to see, but I’ll also be happy to protect your identity if you prefer to send me your comments via private email. Tag – You’re it!

Slow News Day

Christmas victorsFinally a top three Men’s Day finish in both the gross and net categories for Howard Jones on December 25th. Marwan Jalili also finished in the top three as did Rick Brown. Alright, I’ll come clean. There were only three golfers playing. Alright, there was no Men’s Day. It was Christmas. But what a chance to get a little press.

Low Gross

  1. Rick Brown – 76
  2. Howard Jones – 85
  3. Marwan Jalili – 91

Low Net

  1. Howard Jones – 68
  2. Marwan Jalili – 70
  3. Rick Brown – 70

Here’s a summary of the “tournament”.

  • Toughest play: Getting into the Men’s Locker Room (every door in the club house was locked).
  • Most exciting shot: Jalili hitting a tree on #9 Lakes.
  • Worst shot: Jones missing a two footer on #4 Lakes.
  • Closest thing to good golf: Brown’s near eagle on #5 Arroyo.
  • Best play of the day: Brown accepting bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon over a fence – passed by a family member in his backyard.
  • Most enjoyable aspect of the match: Fast play! A three and a half hour round and that was on the heels of a foursome with two husband/wife teams.
  • Line of the Day: “Hell no I’m not giving you that putt. What do you think this is – Christmas?”

Cheaters Identified by the Handicap Committee

CheaterWho hasn’t bemoaned the existence of the “handicap managers”? Those who manipulate their handicaps – sometimes slightly, other times dramatically – have always existed. I’ve played golf for over a half century and I’ve never seen a tournament winner that wasn’t a sandbagger, at least in the eyes of a few disgruntled losers.

Frankly, it gets old watching as the same people seem to win over and over again while other golfers haven’t been spotted in the winner’s circle since the early Pleistocene era. If you’ve been a club member for ten years and have never taken home the trophy, someone’s got to be cheating, right? After all, the handicap system is supposed to level the playing field and statistically there’s a greater chance of a blowup doll named Naomi falling from the sky than there is of you going ten years without ever having a sniff of victory. You’re not winning because someone is cheating.

The cheater is you! That’s right; you’re cheating yourself out of victory. When you go out on the golf course and improve your lie, you’re cheating. You may save a stroke or so every round. When you give yourself the three foot putt, you’re cheating. Everyone misses one once in a while. If you take a putt, your scores are going to be a half to a whole stroke lower than they realistically should be. When you play a Mulligan, you’re cheating. Take an illegal drop and you’re cheating. “Oh, give me a double-bogey” when you’re already laying six and you’re not on the green yet. You’re cheating.

In all these cases, you’re cheating yourself. You’re consistently coming in with scores that are one, two or more strokes lower than they really should be. If everybody in your group plays by the same “relaxed” rules, you’re giving each other tacit approval for cheating yourselves.

Everyone wants to have a lower handicap (except in tournaments), but if you cheat at Solitaire, did you really win the game? If you’re carrying an ego handicap, you can brag all you want, but it’s not going to be about your winnings. You’re not going to have any.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s not a lot you can do when you’re competing against a guy with an “honest” handicap, i.e., he plays by the rules, when you’re spotting him two strokes because you’re too embarrassed to write down a triple-bogey when you get on.

When you’re handicap is artificially low, what chance do you have? This doesn’t even begin to take into account how to compete against those who “manage” their handicaps to make them artificially higher. Why worry about them? You’ve already lost the tournament.

Does that mean we shouldn’t be concerned with the more devious handicap managers? No, not at all. But that’s a topic for another column. (And it’s coming!)

Deja Vu All Over Again – Men’s Day – December 18th

#9 Arroyo (from the MGA 2014 Calendar)
#9 Arroyo (from the MGA 2014 Calendar)

The ninth Men’s Day event is in the book. It brought both surprise and anti-surprise. The team of Bruce Partridge, Joel Temple, Scott Hull and Howard Jones lit it up and captured first place. Between Jones and Temple, the team had two natural eagles (net albatross) in a span of five holes. That can be tough to beat. The surprise is it’s Jones’ first visit to the winner’s circle this year. The anti-surprise was it was Partridge’s third first place finish along with two second place finishes. Interestingly enough, Partridge only contributed with seven of the forty-five scores used in the match. His teammates handled the other thirty-eight. Partridge smiled and said he’s been winning because he “brings out the best in his teammates.” Maybe that’s true. What other explanation could there be?

Second place was claimed by the team of Jim Stamatis, Sandy Wiener, Don Coolidge and Marty Howe. The final money position went to Howard Garr, Dave Inman, Jim Gabriel and Ken Vlah.

Skins money went to Temple (2), Jones (2), Akiba (2), Herold, Proebstle, Matz and Martz. Sixty golfers participated. There were a lot of “good” scores, but no “great” scores on the day.

Here’s the up-to-date Men’s Day Money List as of December 18th.

Low Gross

  1. Joel Temple – 74
  2. Dave Inman – 75
  3. Bob Proebstle – 76

Low Net

  1. Don Coolidge, Bob Kenkel, Joel Temple, George Stelmach and Gary Reibman – 66

The course is in great shape. The greens are fast and true. The water is deep and the out-of-bounds boundaries are far too close to me.

Watch this site for a shocking column tomorrow. A number of cheaters have been identified. They will be revealed and corrective action will be recommended within the next couple of days. I hope you’re not on the list.

The Duke of Hazards

Duke NguyenWith a “Take no prisoners” attitude, Duke Nguyen came to Gainey Ranch and fired a net 61 on the Arroyo/Lakes course. With 69 rounds played on Men’s Day, his was the best net score by five strokes. With his two partners Bob Falls and Rickie Currens shooting net 72 and 69 respectively, his team topped the Men’s Day field by two strokes.

When the team of Mike Nichols, Dan Hourihan, Ron Dobkin and Marty Howe arrived in the club house, they were beaming with confidence after turning in a great team effort. Surprisingly, it was only good enough for second place. Jim Stamatis, Sandy Wiener, Ken Vlah and Tom Hansen paired up to take third.

Anthony Arvidson proved to be gold standard again with a gross 71.

Low Gross

  1. Anthony Arvidson – 71
  2. Mike Nichols and John Herold – 74

Low Net

  1. Duke Nguyen – 61
  2. Tom Hansen, Marty Howe, Ted Akiba and Doug Lammle – 66

Nguyen walked out the door with first place money and a couple of skins to make his day well worthwhile. Other skins winners included Bob Proebstle, Garry Warner (2),  Bob Martz (3), George Lahood, Jim Stamatis, Ron Dobkin, Steve Danovic and Jim Gabriel.

The Handicap Committee has decided to maintain running totals on prize money paid out on Men’s Day. You can see the up-to-date totals here. Needless to say, Duke moved to the top on the list based on the money per event played. This was his first Men’s Day of the year.

Sandy WienerThe weather has been near perfect the past few days, but there was a lot of heat generated during Friday’s Kildare Group play. Some of the matches were extremely competitive. Sandy Wiener was engaged in one of the tightest matches. The winner was to be determined on the last hole, #9 Dunes, the hole many consider the toughest at Gainey Ranch. The expression “Don’t shoot him – you’ll just make him mad” comes to mind when Wiener’s got a match on the line with one hole to play. I know this because I was his competitor in this case. Sandy was in the fairway ninety-five yards from the hole preparing to hit his third shot to the monster five par. My ball was nestled in the fairway just off the green. All I needed to do was get up and down to win the match, not a particularly difficult task from where my ball laid. Wiener addressed his ball and put his patented swing into motion. I watched the ball fly toward the green knowing it would be nearly impossible for him to gain the victory. I watched as his ball landed a foot short of the hole, take one bounce, squarely hit the flag stick and drop directly into the hole for an eagle. Game, set, match – damn!

Wentrup Stays Perfect in the Holiday Classic

After the second major tournament of the season, Mike Wentrup remains at the top of the Gainey Cup standings with another first place finish. Wentrup paired up with Bruce Partridge to edge the team of Mike Low and Jeff Smith by three quarters of a stroke. I had the joy of playing in a foursome with Wentrup and Partridge and noted that Mike was pretty steady, but Partridge made some shots that not even a player that had some ability could make. Partridge made flop-shots over traps from thirty yards that stopped within a foot of the hole, while my team simply flopped. The only dark shadow over the winning team’s round came on the #4 hole of the Lakes course. Mike Wentrup hit his tee shot to within 18 inches of the hole. When he arrived at the green, his hopes of winning “closest to the pin” prize vaporized. Marshall Block’s ball had come to rest within about 4 inches of the hole. Both golfers were smart enough to get within tap-in range for birdie and even smarter to keep it out of the hole to avoid a massive bar bill.

See photos from the 2013 Holiday Classic.

Here are the top twenty finishers in this year’s Holiday Classic

  1. Mike Wentrup and Bruce Partridge – 57.25
  2. Mike Low and Jeff Smith – 58
  3. Mike Steele and Ron Dobkin – 58.5
  4. Mike Nichols and Tom Hansen – 58.75
  5. Kurt Saulnier and Evan Carr – 59.25
  6. Matt Bintzler and Greg Nelson – 59.5
  7. Greg Luce and Andy Siegel – 60
  8. Steve Bartha and Ted Akiba – 60.5
  9. Joel Temple and George Stelmach – 61
  10. Mike Miller and Marty Howe – 61.25
  11. Russell Brown and Rickie Currens – 61.25
  12. Tom Swan and Barry Talley – 61.5
  13. Sandy Wiener and Brian Laks – 61.75
  14. Bryan Noonan and Phil Graham – 62.25
  15. Marshall Block and Buddy Stein – 62.25
  16. Harold Hoeg and Raoul Encinas – 62.5
  17. Don Coolidge and Gary Anzalone – 63
  18. Bruce Miller and Dick Lockwood – 63.75
  19. Bob Martz and Robert Martz – 63.75
  20. Mark Ramser and Bruce Plankinton – 64

There are signs of a conspiracy and possible foul play. Look at the list. Do you see it? Here are the facts.

  1. There were a total of 82 players in the field and only 6 of those players were named “Mike”.
  2. Of those 6 players named “Mike”, 5 of them finished in the top ten.
  3. No player named “Mike” finished in the bottom half of the field.
  4. A guy named “Mike” finished in first place, second place, third place and fourth place.
  5. If you were at Chef Jeff’s Holiday Gala dinner Thursday night, you noticed  the Master of Ceremonies, i.e., the guy with the mike, was [cue the music] named “Mike”! Mike Miller finished 10th.

I think it’s pretty obvious something is amiss. What are the odds? I think this should be referred to the Handicap Committee. OH NO!!! The Committee’s newest member is “Mike” Nichols.

Looking for a partner for the next tournament? Grab a Mike.

2013 Holiday Classic Results