One Man’s Opinion – Don’t Post Scores for Others

Jones' Opinion
Jones’ Opinion

In the past, in an effort to assure a higher level of compliance with USGA handicap rules, team “captains” have been encouraged to post the scores of all members of their teams following golf rounds. Although the intent is noble, the result is not. Team “captains” should be encouraged to “encourage” teammates to post scores. If necessary, I have no problem with them yelling, berating and sarcastically demeaning their teammates to get them to post. Threats of physical violence are fine with me, but the individual players should post their own scores . . . post them correctly and post them all.  Here are my reasons.

  1. Page One of the USGA Handicap System manual couldn’t be any clearer. Two basic premises underlie the USGA Handicap System, namely that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. There are no provisions in the manual for surrogates, babysitters or house mothers. It’s the golfer’s responsibility – end of story.
  2. With captains or scorekeepers posting rounds, confusion and errors are inevitable. An increasing number of players prefer to post their own scores online. Without question there will be duplicate postings. Unfortunately, these duplicate postings are not always detected in a timely manner and having them eliminated is problematic. The golfer must call the club, explain the situation, ask that the duplicate be removed and hope that the process is completed successfully and without error. Also, it is not unreasonable to conclude that with human nature the way it is, some golfers’ abilities to detect and correct duplicates are no doubt greater when the scores are very low. High scores are going to be thrown out anyway aren’t they? Not exactly mathematically valid reasoning.
  3. The converse to #2 above is also true. If the golfer assumes the captain will be posting and the captain fails to post for whatever reason, a handicap lowering 75 may be overlooked and go unposted.
  4. Not all captains fully grasp the concept of equitable stroke control (ESC) and know how to properly apply it. Depending upon a golfer’s handicap range, he may not take a score above a certain number. When posting scores, adjustments MUST be made prior to posting. Otherwise, the handicap system does not function as intended. It is also true that the team captain has just arrived at the club house after a grueling round in 110° heat and has not only his own score to review for adjustments, he now has three other scores to check and double-check. He’s thirsty, damn thirsty and the Member’s Grill calls out his name. How much time and effort do you really think he’ll be investing in reviewing postings for ESC?
  5. The fifth and final reason for arguing against placing an intermediary in the posting process is perhaps the biggest one. It gives the “shady guys” (you know who you are) ground cover when they’re reviewed by the Handicap Committee. “Well, I didn’t post that score because the team captain was supposed to do it. It’s not my fault.” Yes it is. Read the USGA manual. But when we put the burden on someone else’s back, we confuse the situation at the least or worse yet, we give the bandits cover for their crimes of neglect or intent. And then we wonder why some guys seem to always play below their handicaps when the stakes are higher. Go figure!

In the past week, I’ve had one duplicate score posted by a team captain. It has been corrected, but not without spending a little time and a little effort. If the old system of captain postings remains in place, please take note of my personal request – DON’T POST MY SCORES. When I am a team captain, I will not post yours. I will give you your adjusted score and growl at you to post it yourself. If you don’t, shame on you. Perhaps I’ll see you in a meeting of the club’s Handicap Committee the week before one of our big tournaments.

And the Good Book Says . . .

Moses and Handicaps

Here’s what the good book says . . .

The purpose of the USGA Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable by enabling players of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.

OK, fair enough. Most of us agree that it usually works out pretty well. However, it works well if and only if everyone plays by the rules. Otherwise, the system falls apart. The good book also makes it clear the system will work only if everyone lives up to his or her individual responsibility. In Part 1, Section 1 of the USGA Handicap System manual, it is stated:

Two basic premises underlie the USGA Handicap System, namely that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. The player and the player’s Handicap Committee have joint responsibility for adhering to the premises.

There you have it. The system breaks down if you don’t live up to its tenets.

To summarize the issue . . . It is YOUR responsibility to make CERTAIN your scores are posted and posted CORRECTLY. It is the Handicap Committee’s responsibility to oversee matters and make certain the system is being used correctly.

The Gainey Ranch Golf Club’s Handicap Committee is attempting to be a little more pro-active in monitoring handicaps. If your record is “reviewed”, it doesn’t mean someone thinks you’re not playing by the rules. Neither does it mean someone does think you’re playing by the rules. It simply means your record is being reviewed. The review may have been triggered by an unusually strong performance. It may be a result of a complaint. It may have come as a result a statistical flag being raised due to a combination of factors. Or it may come as a result of a random selection process. Your name may have been drawn from a hat.

The entire Board of Directors of the Men’s Golf Association is next in the hot seat. Each and every one of them will soon be reviewed. Few things would make me happier than to discover I was being reviewed as a result of performance that had been suspiciously strong, however, I fear that if I’m reviewed, the Committee will recommend increasing my handicap by a couple of sympathy strokes.

Remember to POST YOUR SCORES promptly and accurately. If the club will be posting, YOU are still responsible to make sure it has been done properly and promptly. If your “team captain” says he’ll post scores, YOU are ultimately responsible for the timeliness and accuracy of the posting. The buck stops with YOU.

Big Brother is Golfing

With human nature being what it is, everyone forgets to post a score from time-to-time. With a periodic lapse of memory, no one can be accused of malice or deceit. However, these lapses should tend to follow the fundamental laws of statistics. Scores above a handicap shouldn’t have a higher probability of being posted than those substantially below.

The computer program we’ve been using to record and analyze scores, calculate match results, skins, etc. continues to evolve into an increasingly powerful tool. It now has the capability to match scores with those recorded via the GHIN system for handicap calculations.

The program has been endowed with a set of statistical triggers that suggest postings may not be as reliable as they should be. It then compares postings made in the GHIN system to those recorded through the MGA. If there is a statistically significant difference in those scores, you may have scores posted in your behalf through the GHIN system and your official handicap will reflect those postings.

If you discover your handicap has changed unexpectedly, you may have had your missing posts entered. It doesn’t mean you’re a crook, a cheat, a bandit. It doesn’t suggest your mother doesn’t love you or that you’re a candidate for the next remake of “The Monster from the Black Lagoon”. It doesn’t mean you’re ugly, odiferous, or cranially challenged.

It does suggest you should perhaps pay closer attention to the scores that are and are not posted. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature and it’s not nice to carry a handicap that doesn’t truly reflect your recent golf performance.