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.

 

 

 

Author: h. Alton Jones

writer/scientist/adventurer

7 thoughts on “The Curse of the Scorekeeper”

  1. Excellent comments and advice we all need to follow if handicap system is to be effective and fair. Although focus on winning is nice, what is more important is the ethics of the game. Are we being ethical when we play as well as when we record the scores? A refresher course in “Golf Ethics” might be what we all need! Your posts have been steps in this direction!!!

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  2. There is hope. It took several years for the Kildare group to accept the “playing on a level field” policy. A lot of support was needed from many players to “bird dog” the “sweepers”, “ball identifiers” on the fairways, roughs, and hazards, major improving of lies in the hazards, and the philosophers that believe “you should never make a putt you don’t need”. Our group is not yet perfect, but the improvement has been significant and getting better. Hopefully, more and more of Gainey members will follow the rules of play and the handicap committee may eventually become unnecessary. Don’t hold your breath, Howard !

    Dennis

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  3. Howard. Aren’t the top 19 in Dennis group. Not 15.

    How about a list of skins winners in order?? Not sure how that affects this I know the gross skins should be all the good golfers but how about those net skins. Like to see who wins all those nets. 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    1. I see why you’re asking about the top 19. When I generated the report for this column, I accidentally included prize money on Mondays and Fridays. I have corrected that and reposted the Money List. Top 15.

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