Men’s Day and Unhuman Wrights

Lakes 9Roski had a Knuff as a partner and helped Schembri and Silver bring home the gold in the Men’s Day event January 29th. Jeff Roski and Tom Knuff both had net eagles on the final hole to cinch the scorecard playoff victory. Along with Jerry Silver and Jim Schembri, they split $240 in prize money. Ted Akiba, Alex Currie, Don Donovan and Ed Nafus laid claim to second place while Gene Kloeckner, Russ Maring, Gary Mattox and Jim Skarlis took third.

Larry Wright introduced himself to the membership by taking low gross and low net honors. A rather stunning introduction to say the least.

Low Gross

  1. Larry Wright – 73
  2. John Herold and Travis Nelson – 75

Low Net

  1. Larry Wright – 62
  2. Travis Nelson – 63
  3. Jim Gabriel – 64

Some of the boys made enough money on skins to retire. But now that I think of it, most of them already are retired. Jack McCoy broke from the house with $164 dollars in skins money. Ted Akiba ran with $102. Sandy Wiener skinned the field for another $113. John Tewksbury claimed one of the skins with a net double-eagle on the last hole. The balance of the skins went to Don Donovan, Mike Nichols and Dave Inman.

The average score on the day was a little lower than it has been in recent weeks, but that is probably explained by the divine intervention that usually comes with four-man teams and the consequent lack of “competitive supervision”. There were forty-four birdies on the day and one eagle. Mike Nichols poured another on #5 Arroyo. Piece of cake – all you need is a 300 yard drive and a five iron. Tap in the putt and move on. No big deal.

The Curse of the Scorekeeper

ScorecardSome say half the club’s golfers are padding their handicaps. Well, if it ain’t me – it must be you. That’s sometimes how it feels. The same guys seem to spend more than their fair share of time in the winner’s circle while some of us have permanent seats in the back row. How is that possible?

We already established the average golfer does more to hurt his own chances of winning than the biggest cheaters in any club – albeit innocently and unknowingly – but that is the reality. Ego handicaps don’t win tournaments. But there’s another guy at the club that hurts your chances more than you might imagine – the scorekeeper.

There are so many misconceptions about scorekeeping, it’s a wonder some guy’s handicaps are within three strokes of the “real” number. If you’re going to be the scorekeeper, consider the following.

You’re playing a best ball of two format. You shoot a birdie three for a net eagle. Your partner’s ball is on the green laying three twenty feet from the hole. He picks up and says “Gimme a seven. That’s the max I can take.” You’re response is . . .

  1. “You bet” as you write a seven on the card.
  2. “Don’t worry. We don’t need you.” You leave his score blank on the card.
  3. “Up your’s Bubba. I’m putting you down for a five.”
  4. “I’m giving you par plus the stroke you get here – a five.”
  5. You say nothing, but write a three on the card knowing the s.o.b. is going to pad his handicap anyway and you’re not going to help.

The one and only correct answer in this case is “Up your’s Bubba.” The “Good Book”, a.k.a., The USGA Handicap System manual, is very clear on this matter in Section 4-1.

“A player who starts, but does not complete a hole or is conceded a stroke MUST record for handicap purposes the most likely score.”

If you’re living by what the “Good Book” says, you MAY NOT leave the player’s score blank simply because his ball didn’t count in the match. Neither may you simply give the player his maximum allowable score under the rules of “Equitable Stroke Control”. If you do, you’re aiding and abetting in the crime.

There are those who are under the impression that someone who doesn’t finish a hole is to be given par plus any handicap strokes allotted on the hole. NOT so. This technique is to be used if and only if – after the round is complete – the score on the hole is left blank and the player can’t be found or can’t recall what his correct score was on the hole in question. It is the solution of last resort.

Here’s an interesting little tidbit. I’ve heard a number of explanations. At this moment in time, the first fifteen prize money positions on the Men’s Day Money List are held by members of the Kildare Group. What’s your explanation? I suggest to you that the single biggest contributing factor is Dennis Kildare’s insistence upon a rigorous adherence to the Rules of Golf. All putts go into the hole. Scores are properly recorded. No “gimmes”. The ball is played “down”. The odds of the first fifteen positions being held by guys from a group that is comprised of only a third of the Men’s Day golfers are pretty low. But the odds that fifteen guys are conspiring together to cheat for fun and profit are far lower. There’s another explanation. If it’s not coming to you yet, you may want to start reading from the top of this column again.

If you want the handicap system to work and you’re the scorekeeper – know your job and do it per the rules. DO NOT leave scores blank simply because the ball wasn’t counted in the match at hand.

One other thing you might want to do is double-check to make sure the golfers with whom you played properly recorded their scores for handicap purposes (with Equitable Stroke Control – properly applied).

Keep score properly and you may find yourself in the winner’s circle at last.




Handicap Committee Meeting Summary

Three StoogesThursday’s Handicap Committee meeting was lengthy, but highly productive. There were a total of seven golfers reviewed in detail. Under the new review process, golfers are identified not only in the traditional manner, i.e., member “requests”, but also by a number of statistical “triggers”. Exceptional rounds, groups of exceptional rounds and positions on various money lists trigger automatic reviews. One of the golfers under review at the meeting would stun most members, but if your numbers trip the wire, you’re reviewed. “Win the game, take the blame.” No exceptions – fair to everyone. If you’re reviewed, it doesn’t mean anyone thinks you’re cheating. It simply says, “You’ve played well. Congratulations.” And don’t forget, the review process is now “blind”. No voting member of the Committee knows who is under review until after recommendations have been made and acted upon.

There were a number of requests in the “Suggestion Box” located by the posting computer in the pro-shop. Those who identified themselves will receive personal responses. There was one anonymous suggestion of using only Wednesday scores to prepare a special handicap for Men’s Day play. The idea was researched and the Committee agreed that although it had merit, it would be too difficult to implement. It called for an excessive amount of work for an already burdened club staff.

This isn’t to say we didn’t recognize the reason for the request. We did an extensive amount of research on golfer’s handicaps when based upon only Wednesday play. We found that some players do indeed seem to get “luckier” when playing on Wednesdays. We have some of them identified and are taking steps to help them spread out their luck in a more realistic fashion. It is one of many factors that are being looked at closely when the golfer reviews take place. I’m sure this will become more apparent as time goes by and the new Handicap Committee’s efforts get traction.

Keep your thoughts and suggestions coming. The more of us that work together toward our common goal, the greater our successes will be.

One other item of note, the web survey on grass length in the arroyos showed that more than 75% of the membership feels the club is headed in the right direction and supports making them true hazards. There is a new survey on the site. If you have an opinion of fivesomes on the course, be sure to cast your vote at

New Blood at the Top of the Men’s Day Winner’s List

Greg LuceUnfortunately, it was mine. I shot a fine net 78 and didn’t win. Go figure. And with that disastrous display of non-ability, I couldn’t even claim last place; Nick De Santis and Rick Robinson edged me out of that honor by six big strokes.

On the “this is a stick-up” end of the spectrum, the “Katchen-Luce” gang held up the field by turning in a pair of 63s, six strokes better than their handicaps. There was talk of a posse being formed. At last report, they were holed up inside the Member’s Grill where they vowed not to surrender until the wine ran out.

Low Net

  1. Bernie Katchen and Greg Luce – 63
  2. Joel Temple – 65

Low Gross

  1. Mike Nichols – 73
  2. Joel Temple – 74
  3. Dave Inman – 75

Bernie KatchenIn the team competition, Bob Martz, Jack McCoy, Marshall Block and Gainey Ranch G.C. Player-of-the-Year, Blind Draw fleeced the field with a 155 score, three strokes better than the second place team of John Cook, Bernie Katchen, John Goesling and Gregg Hayutin. They tied the team of Greg Luce, Andy Anderson, John Malletta and Bob Proebstle, but a strong performance on the 18th hole gave them second place.

Skins paid off handsomely, but I didn’t win one so I don’t much give a damn. Oh, alright . . . I suppose it’s noteworthy to mention that Mike Nichols claimed four of them and won $250 while Tom Long, David McKelvey, Chris Balakas and Don Fruchtman left the house with the table scraps. I don’t want to make a value judgment or sound envious on the amount of money Nichols carried out of the house, but he was greeted by two IRS agents when he got to his car. (I called them.) Other guys “the service” might want to look at can be found at the top of the Men’s Day Money List.

The MGA Takes a Stand on Fair Play

Scales of JusticeIt hasn’t been without controversy, but the MGA Board of Directors has elected to follow USGA guidelines in the upcoming Member/Member tournament. Some members rejoice while others recoil in anger. But the undeniable fact is that the application of the USGA recommended “handicap allowances” to the teams playing in the tournament makes the format a fair format rather than one that is skewed toward the higher handicap players. It doesn’t put high handicappers at a disadvantage. It merely removes their unfair advantage.

In a nutshell, the USGA has spent countless thousands of dollars and innumerable hours researching the matter. They have solidly recommended that in cases where two-man teams compete using the best of the two balls, the field is not level unless a 90% allowance of all player’s handicaps is used. Nearly every golf club in the nation uses the USGA recommendation when playing a best ball format tournament. The Gainey Ranch Golf Club Handicap Committee recommends the use of the allowance. Numerous authors in golf journals and other publications say use the allowance. Anyone with a strong mathematics background will recognize and understand the need to use allowance in these situations.

However, a few either don’t understand it or don’t believe it for some other reason and feel it is unfair. Quite the contrary, it is unfair only if it is not used. (I guess it’s also possible some of the nabobs fully understand the matter and just resist giving up their unfair advantage, but I doubt it.)

For those of you masochists that would like to punish your senses with a highly simplified version of the mathematics associated with adopting the USGA policy, a copy of the Handicap Committee’s recommendation to the MGA Board is available here. Some have found that reading this document also helps cure insomnia. It has also been said that it looks sufficiently “official” that it can help someone delay routine household chores for at least a short time.

When the dusInmant settles, most MGA members will undoubtedly realize that the most lucrative tournament of the year will now be played on a level playing field. I encourage some of you that have not played in the past to reconsider this year. It promises to be a great tournament, but more importantly, you’ll stand on the first tee and know that your chances are better than ever.

Kudos to Dave Inman and the MGA Board for taking a firm stand on fair play.

Another Interesting Result from the Laboratory of Golf

Winter Classic (228 of 237)Friday’s Kildare group had another fun and challenging match where they stepped outside the lines a little bit. Teams were created by putting A, B, C and D handicap players together and competing in a progressive best ball match. The twist came from the fact that the A players had to compete from the gold tees, B and C players from the green tees and D players had to use the white tees. Handicaps were adjusted as appropriate. For the first time in history, Anthony Arvidson actually received a stroke. Don Coolidge had to go down to a 16. It was not only another enjoyable day on the course, it was also another test of the validity of the USGA Handicap System itself.

In theory – IF a handicap is valid and IF a course is rated properly and IF a handicap is correctly adjusted for the tee being played – THEN it shouldn’t make a great deal of difference which tees someone selects for his game. Friday’s results tended to support the theory. The first three finishers played (in order) the white, green and green tees. The bottom three finishers (in reverse order) played the green, white and gold tees. Handicap adjustments ranged from a minus four for Coolidge and plus three for Arvidson, a swing of seven strokes from what they would have been if both played the green tees. Yet, the results showed no strong correlations between tee sets and net finishing position.

Hey! You don’t suppose the USGA is on to something? Maybe if we play by the rules, the field is level.

Low Net

  1. Don Coolidge – 65
  2. George Stelmach – 67
  3. Howard Jones, Tom Hansen, Rob Dobkin, Rick Brown, Joel Temple and Rick May – 69

Low Gross

  1. Anthony Arvidson – 72
  2. Joel Temple and Rick May – 77

She Was Angry Wednesday

Collins WienerI have no explanation, but there were few survivors on Men’s Day. The Arroyo/Lakes course rose up like a swamp monster and swallowed most who challenged it. Scores averaged two strokes higher than normal. Only seven out of the seventy-one competitors bested their handicap, half the number normally expected. The only golfers on that short list are Chris Balakas, Jerry Whalen, Steve Bartha, Dick Loeb, John Malletta, Doug Dewar and Ted Akiba. It’s all the more difficult to explain because the weather was perfect and the course was in very good condition.

Not surprisingly, the aforementioned golfers also accounted for much of the prize money. First place went to the team of Pat Collins and Sandy Wiener. They were tied with John Deery and Balakas, but took the big prize with a scorecard playoff. Gary Graham and Tom Swan grabbed third.

Low Gross

  1. Bob Proebstle – 78
  2. Chris Balakas – 79
  3. Jerry Whalen, Steve Bartha, John Malletta and Andy Anderson – 80

Low Net

  1. Chris Balakas – 64
  2. Jerry Whalen – 65
  3. Steve Bartha – 66

The skins pot was split up between Andy Anderson, Tom Swan, Steve King, Bob Proebstle, Gary Reibman, Mark Ramser, Sandy Wiener, Steve Bartha, Ted Akiba and Steve Loeb.

The Money List after week eleven of Men’s Day looks like this.

A Tidbit from the Handicap Committee

Mouse in trapHere’s an interesting little tidbit. A look at the last roughly thousand or so rounds of competitive golf at Gainey Ranch reveals an amazing coincidence.

When four-man teams play, the average gross score has been 86.3. When two-man teams play, the average gross score has been 87.9.

What conclusions can we draw from this statistically anomalous fact? Choose your favorite.

  • Better golfers prefer four-man teams.
  • Lousy golfers prefer two-man teams.
  • Some golfers score better when they don’t have another team watching them.
  • Group hugs amongst four-man teams produce a better golf swing.
  • While the cat’s away, the mouse bumps his cheese, but only if it’s in a divot.

Over a stroke and a half difference in the averages! Go figure.

Might be a good idea to reduce the number of four-man team events and have more two-man team events (or ban group hugs).

2014 Winter Classic – That’s a Wrap

Winter Classic (6 of 237)There was a huge turnout for the Winter Classic. When ninety-four players had turned in their cards, the team of Robert Martz and Robert Martz emerged victorious. They were tied by the team of Jim Mantle and Lynton Kotzin, but won the tie-breaker. With a host of new members participating for the first time, we saw some great golf played on the Arroyo/Lakes course combination.

I’ll have a full analysis of the results once I’ve had time to process the scorecards. It’s clear already that with faster greens and hungrier Canadian Geese helping balls slide into the Winter Classic (8 of 237)water, the winning scores were not as good as last year’s, but that didn’t get in the way of having a great tournament.

Some outstanding tournament pictures have been posted for your to review. Enjoy!

Mike Wentrup remains on top of the Gainey Cup Leaderboard, but the field is closing in.

And Then There Were Ten

Ron Dobkin after the harvest
Ron Dobkin after the harvest

Wednesday marked the tenth Men’s Day of the season and surprises were in short supply. The course played a little tougher than normal with the average score for the 82 participants creeping up to nearly 91 strokes. There were some wild swings in player’s scores. Bob Falls added a full eight strokes to his front nine score when he played the back side. Howard Jones took twelve strokes off his front side score. Clearly he was good on the front. At one point he tried to hit a ball into a lake and missed it (the lake, not the ball). There were forty birdies on the day, but over a thousand bogeys or worse. In the search for causation, I believe I have it narrowed down to global climate change or bad plumbing in the Men’s Locker Room.

Low Gross winners were heaped in the upper seventies. Low net winners were good enough to raise an eyebrow or two. Fifteen participants shot their handicaps. Statistically, that’s pretty close to what you’d expect.  Thirty-one golfers shot four or more strokes above their handicaps. Fortunately, we have “equitable stroke control”. It could have been worse.

Low Gross

  1. Mike Nichols, Steve King, Gary Mattox and Robert Martz – 78

Low Net

  1. Ron Dobkin – 64
  2. Steve King – 65
  3. Gary Mattox, George LaHood and Dale Fitzhenry – 66

The team play was very competitive, at least for second place. The Steve King/Vinny Sollitto/Ken Vlah/Ed Nafus team won a scorecard playoff defeating the teams of George LaHood/Dick Loeb/Dave McKelvey/Mike Sheehan and Gary Anzalone/Pat Collins/Ron Dobkin/Jim Mantle.

Apparently, one team played a different course or used different balls or different tees or a different pencil. Possibly, the team members were just plain different. Joel Temple, Sandy Wiener, Scott Hull and Bruce “Lucky” Partridge ran away from the field. They edged out the second place team by a mere nine strokes – one on every other hole. Their net scores were good, but not that good (67, 68, 71 and 73). The stars must have just been aligned well.

After ten weeks of Men’s Day, the Money List has eighty-five names with winnings beside them. Is your name near the top? Eight of the eighty-five have averaged more than $30 per event. Seven more than $40 per event. For most of us, our average winnings might purchase a golf ball. If only I wasn’t losing two per round I’d be in good shape.