Handicaps- "Equal" Chance or Winning, Regardless of Ability?

Swango1980

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I've started to compare WHS handicaps to Congu. Outliers aside to do with new members, it is looking like many higher handicappers at our course will get 3-5 extra shots (Course Handicap), whereas the lowest handicappers see little increase (or even decrease). So, even with the 95% in strokeplay Playing Handicap, it looks like higher handicappers will generally benefit from even more shots in competitions.

I suspect this is to make competitions "fairer", and give higher handicappers a more equal chance of winning. However, my question is simple. Is this good for the game?

Don't get me wrong. I've always been an advocate of increasing the handicap limit from 28.0, and it certainly has seen some new members enjoy being competitive within competitions, and some older members. However, trying to develop a system that is designed to try and provide an "equal" chance for all abilities to win a competition, might be harmful for the game. And, I don't just mean to lower handicappers, I mean to all golfers. When a golfer plays off a high handicap, and they want to be competitive, should there not be an incentive to become a better golfer? Yes, as they improve in ability, their handicap goes down. However, you'd still like to feel that your improvement in ability beats the reduction in your handicap, thus improving your chances of winning competitions the better the player you become.

However, if a system is designed to give all abilities as equal a chance as possible, where does that leave us? Only vanity golfers will admirably try and get their handicap cut. Golfers who only really care about their chances in winning competitions will see no benefit in spending time or money on improving, if that improvement is fully offset by the handicap adjustment given to them. Short term, perhaps they'd improve to win an upcoming comp, but thereafter their chances of winning would decrease as handicap catches up with ability, and they may lose heart and either give up (or sacrifice a load of rounds until their handicap goes up again). Of course, there are always the complaints from low handicap golfers who will often perceive themselves at a disadvantage, and some of who refuse to compete against fields with a high handicap range.

Now, I'm not entirely sure if WHS is designed to provide this "equal" chance to all abilities, but is certainly seems to improve the chances for the higher handicapped player compared to CONGU. Perhaps, if they wanted to skew this further towards ability, Playing Handicap could have been, say 85% for Strokeplay, 90% Match Play (I just pulled those out of the air, but something like that). It doesn't rule out the chances for a high handicapper winning, but it reduces their chances. However, as they improve, they can still see how they play against their full course handicap. And, as that decreases, then the difference between their Playing and Course handicap reduces, thus they actually lose less shots in the Playing Handicap calculation as their ability improves.

I'm a little apprehensive that, once WHS goes live, some of the lower end handicappers (and I'm not even talking single figures, as players under 20 these days have much lower handicaps than others in the field) are going to get a shock when some of the higher handicappers have 3 or 4 more shots than before compared to them. I struggle to see that being a good thing for the game, for any player.
 

Lord Tyrion

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It really comes down to the whole point of the handicap. Do you believe in it or not? If you do then let it run, stop restricting it and let the handicap system do its job. For those who don't like it, stick to scratch comps (that comes across as a bit brutal. Unintentional but hopefully you get my point).
 
D

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Summary ?

It’s a handicap system , the person who plays best relative to their handicap wins

If there is the belief that’s unfair then there are scratch comps

The changes in someone’s handicap from Congu to WHS is based on scores they have submitted not to “balance” the books or make it easier for them to win
 

Newnsy

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For me it doesn't really make any difference, i'm a 16 handicapper if you catch me on a good day i will shoot 8-10 over par round my home course, If you catch me on a bad day i will shoot 20-22 over par. I don't get the 6-8 shots under my handicap in competitions very often maybe once a year but in my experience there is always someone like me who's handicap is coming down that shoots low numbers. In the Club majors when the course is setup harder the better golfers seem to return better scores and maybe its a bit more about skill and less about me getting lucky.
Do i want to win the competitions? Yes !!! but Golf isn't about the monthly medal for me its about having fun on the course with friends and trying to get better if i win a prize its just a bonus :)
All the handicap does for me is allows me to have a fun game with my mates who are all sub 3 handicaps.
 

Grant85

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A few points;

Higher handicaps are often improvers who have a good round in them as they get better at golf and find where their handicap level is. Obviously this year we have had a lot of new members which will include a number guys who have been good club golfers and lapsed for a few years but will come down within a year as they get back into golf.

Obviously you will also have the classic club hacker who is just really volatile and every so often will put a round together without any triple bogeys and end up shooting 7 or 8 under their handicap. And they will get a chop to their handicap following this.

In terms of WHS adjusting their handicap, I assume that is because of the slope rating giving them extra shots on that set of tees. Again, that is something that will work itself out after people have played in this format for a while.

Remember the new system will likely see some low handicappers increase if they have a loss of form, 4 or 5 rounds could add a few shots to their handicap rather than 0.3 or 0.4 under the current system.
 

Canary_Yellow

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I've started to compare WHS handicaps to Congu. Outliers aside to do with new members, it is looking like many higher handicappers at our course will get 3-5 extra shots (Course Handicap), whereas the lowest handicappers see little increase (or even decrease). So, even with the 95% in strokeplay Playing Handicap, it looks like higher handicappers will generally benefit from even more shots in competitions.

I suspect this is to make competitions "fairer", and give higher handicappers a more equal chance of winning. However, my question is simple. Is this good for the game?

Don't get me wrong. I've always been an advocate of increasing the handicap limit from 28.0, and it certainly has seen some new members enjoy being competitive within competitions, and some older members. However, trying to develop a system that is designed to try and provide an "equal" chance for all abilities to win a competition, might be harmful for the game. And, I don't just mean to lower handicappers, I mean to all golfers. When a golfer plays off a high handicap, and they want to be competitive, should there not be an incentive to become a better golfer? Yes, as they improve in ability, their handicap goes down. However, you'd still like to feel that your improvement in ability beats the reduction in your handicap, thus improving your chances of winning competitions the better the player you become.

However, if a system is designed to give all abilities as equal a chance as possible, where does that leave us? Only vanity golfers will admirably try and get their handicap cut. Golfers who only really care about their chances in winning competitions will see no benefit in spending time or money on improving, if that improvement is fully offset by the handicap adjustment given to them. Short term, perhaps they'd improve to win an upcoming comp, but thereafter their chances of winning would decrease as handicap catches up with ability, and they may lose heart and either give up (or sacrifice a load of rounds until their handicap goes up again). Of course, there are always the complaints from low handicap golfers who will often perceive themselves at a disadvantage, and some of who refuse to compete against fields with a high handicap range.

Now, I'm not entirely sure if WHS is designed to provide this "equal" chance to all abilities, but is certainly seems to improve the chances for the higher handicapped player compared to CONGU. Perhaps, if they wanted to skew this further towards ability, Playing Handicap could have been, say 85% for Strokeplay, 90% Match Play (I just pulled those out of the air, but something like that). It doesn't rule out the chances for a high handicapper winning, but it reduces their chances. However, as they improve, they can still see how they play against their full course handicap. And, as that decreases, then the difference between their Playing and Course handicap reduces, thus they actually lose less shots in the Playing Handicap calculation as their ability improves.

I'm a little apprehensive that, once WHS goes live, some of the lower end handicappers (and I'm not even talking single figures, as players under 20 these days have much lower handicaps than others in the field) are going to get a shock when some of the higher handicappers have 3 or 4 more shots than before compared to them. I struggle to see that being a good thing for the game, for any player.

I’m guessing your goal with golf is to win competitions, is that fair?

Mine is to be as good as I can be, I’m not bothered about winning, it’s a nice bonus if it happens. A “vanity” golfer, as you put it.

The only way to judge it is to see how it plays out in due course. Let’s wait and see.
 

Swango1980

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It really comes down to the whole point of the handicap. Do you believe in it or not? If you do then let it run, stop restricting it and let the handicap system do its job. For those who don't like it, stick to scratch comps (that comes across as a bit brutal. Unintentional but hopefully you get my point).
Not many scratch comps for amateur golfers?
 

Lord Tyrion

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Not many scratch comps for amateur golfers?
I'm so far off scratch that I wouldn't know :LOL:. No point in me looking out for them.

I guess if low handicappers feel that strongly then they need to lobby their clubs to hold more scratch comps. Equally, do clubs with bigger memberships not have divisions within comps? Does that not resolve this?
 

Grant85

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I’m guessing your goal with golf is to win competitions, is that fair?

Mine is to be as good as I can be, I’m not bothered about winning, it’s a nice bonus if it happens. A “vanity” golfer, as you put it.

The only way to judge it is to see how it plays out in due course. Let’s wait and see.

I think that's another good point. A lot of low and mid handicappers are simply trying to keep / get their handicap as low as possible. They will grind out a round in the buffer zone, they might play supplementary rounds and may give a medal round a miss in bad weather. They will still have a few good rounds a year where they shoot under par by 1 or 2 shots and get a 0.2 or 0.4 cut, but will often get beat in the competition.

I've been up at 24.0 last year and came down at a reasonable pace. Stuck at 17.6 this year but won 2 comps last year. I'm probably now looking at far more incremental improvements and unlikely to shoot have 4 or 5 cuts in a year and be in the mix to win competitions once or twice a month. So my thinking will change to playing well consistently and getting cut, trying not to go up again but with fewer shots to play with I am simply less likely to win anything without a big skill increase.
 

Swango1980

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I’m guessing your goal with golf is to win competitions, is that fair?

Mine is to be as good as I can be, I’m not bothered about winning, it’s a nice bonus if it happens. A “vanity” golfer, as you put it.

The only way to judge it is to see how it plays out in due course. Let’s wait and see.
BTW, my personal aim is to get as low as possible. Winning competitions is not really a goal for me anymore. I raised the topic purely based on the sort of things I hear discussed around the club over the years, especially from the "moaners".

But, I thought it an interesting point. In any other sport in which I was to start for the first time, I would accept I'd be fairly rubbish to begin with. But practice practice practice would make me more and more competitive. Of course, in any other sport, it still means the players with less ability would have no chance against those with lots of it. The beauty of golf is that this gulf in ability is taken care off with the handicap system. I am a great lover of this. However, I was just curious as to whether it should be designed to completely cancel out ability (in general terms of course). I understand that the American handicap system used to have a 93% reduction to get to Playing Handicap, and so there seemed to be a touch of a factor there to slightly edge things towards the better players. I just felt it is not necessarily a terrible thing to reward golfers who put more effort into their game to improve, in terms of being competitive with other players
 

Grant85

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Not many scratch comps for amateur golfers?

Reason being is a club is run for it's members. If it started having multiple scratch comps internally or as opens, it would be unfair on the bulk of the members who pay their fees and for whom the club is run.

Most clubs will run competitions based on handicap categories so you can still win your category (and sweep) without a 28 handicapper shooting 93 with no pars and coming in with a net 66.
 

Grizzly

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I've just come back to golf in the last couple of years having not really played for two decades - and I finally started collecting cards for a handicap. For me, I want that number to be as low as I can get it - in my dreams, I want to get below the number I was when I turned 18.
 

rulefan

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I've started to compare WHS handicaps to Congu. Outliers aside to do with new members, it is looking like many higher handicappers at our course will get 3-5 extra shots (Course Handicap), whereas the lowest handicappers see little increase (or even decrease). So, even with the 95% in strokeplay Playing Handicap, it looks like higher handicappers will generally benefit from even more shots in competitions.

I suspect this is to make competitions "fairer", and give higher handicappers a more equal chance of winning. However, my question is simple. Is this good for the game?

Don't get me wrong. I've always been an advocate of increasing the handicap limit from 28.0, and it certainly has seen some new members enjoy being competitive within competitions, and some older members. However, trying to develop a system that is designed to try and provide an "equal" chance for all abilities to win a competition, might be harmful for the game. And, I don't just mean to lower handicappers, I mean to all golfers. When a golfer plays off a high handicap, and they want to be competitive, should there not be an incentive to become a better golfer? Yes, as they improve in ability, their handicap goes down. However, you'd still like to feel that your improvement in ability beats the reduction in your handicap, thus improving your chances of winning competitions the better the player you become.

However, if a system is designed to give all abilities as equal a chance as possible, where does that leave us? Only vanity golfers will admirably try and get their handicap cut. Golfers who only really care about their chances in winning competitions will see no benefit in spending time or money on improving, if that improvement is fully offset by the handicap adjustment given to them. Short term, perhaps they'd improve to win an upcoming comp, but thereafter their chances of winning would decrease as handicap catches up with ability, and they may lose heart and either give up (or sacrifice a load of rounds until their handicap goes up again). Of course, there are always the complaints from low handicap golfers who will often perceive themselves at a disadvantage, and some of who refuse to compete against fields with a high handicap range.

Now, I'm not entirely sure if WHS is designed to provide this "equal" chance to all abilities, but is certainly seems to improve the chances for the higher handicapped player compared to CONGU. Perhaps, if they wanted to skew this further towards ability, Playing Handicap could have been, say 85% for Strokeplay, 90% Match Play (I just pulled those out of the air, but something like that). It doesn't rule out the chances for a high handicapper winning, but it reduces their chances. However, as they improve, they can still see how they play against their full course handicap. And, as that decreases, then the difference between their Playing and Course handicap reduces, thus they actually lose less shots in the Playing Handicap calculation as their ability improves.

I'm a little apprehensive that, once WHS goes live, some of the lower end handicappers (and I'm not even talking single figures, as players under 20 these days have much lower handicaps than others in the field) are going to get a shock when some of the higher handicappers have 3 or 4 more shots than before compared to them. I struggle to see that being a good thing for the game, for any player.
Why not give gross prizes and net prizes?

But of course, hi cappers winning with good scores will see their handicaps come down and lo caps with poor scores will ultimately go up. Even with 95%, stats show that there is still an advantage to lo cappers. It's called a "bonus for excellence"
 
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Nobody is forced to enter Comps and imo, any Cat 1 golfer entering any normal Club handicap competition has little to no chance of winning them, it does happen of course, but normally they’ve had to have had a superb round.

Still they enter Comps supporting their Club(regardless of which handicap system), but I’d suggest it’s for their own reasons and one of those near the bottom of the list will be “chance of winning” it.

I very much doubt the moving to WHS will change their attitude.
 
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rulefan

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In my experience of elite golfers, they are primarily concerned about qualifying for and winning elite competitions. Playing club comps enables them to keep their handicaps down and thereby meeting the conditions of entry to big events. Most elite comps are played on significantly more difficult courses than the back tees on a normal club courses where they can get decent reductions.
 

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I would be interested to see how memberships responded if you removed all incentives from competitions except bragging rights and handicap adjustments (except for major comps where there is already silverware). Would you get as many entries if you took away the reward of pro shop vouchers etc for winning. You would almost certainly see who was being 100% honest when they say that their only aim is get the handicap as low as possible.
 

Grant85

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In my experience of elite golfers, they are primarily concerned about qualifying for and winning elite competitions. Playing club comps enables them to keep their handicaps down and thereby meeting the conditions of entry to big events. Most elite comps are played on significantly more difficult courses than the back tees on a normal club courses where they can get decent reductions.

Yes - but there's a big difference between elite amateurs and 4 to 6 handicappers who are not at the level of the scratch circuit but their best round of +2 gross, -3 net, could be beaten by or 3 shots by a 28 handicapper who didn't make a par all day.

I get why that's frustrating and there's not really a solution to it. Perhaps the handicap system needs more initial rounds before someone gets a handicap and can start playing in comps, or clubs could be allowed to stipulate that someone must have played, say 10, qualifying rounds in the past year to be eligible to win certain competitions, but can still play in the sweep.
 

Swango1980

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In my experience of elite golfers, they are primarily concerned about qualifying for and winning elite competitions. Playing club comps enables them to keep their handicaps down and thereby meeting the conditions of entry to big events. Most elite comps are played on significantly more difficult courses than the back tees on a normal club courses where they can get decent reductions.
My post wasn't really comparing elite golfers at that level. At my club, an elite golfer would be a 5 handicapper, at other clubs scratch. It is more to do with any lower handicapper playing any higher handicapper. A 5 handicapper against a 20 handicapper. A 15 handicapper against a 30 handicapper, etc.
 

Lord Tyrion

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BTW, my personal aim is to get as low as possible. Winning competitions is not really a goal for me anymore. I raised the topic purely based on the sort of things I hear discussed around the club over the years, especially from the "moaners".

But, I thought it an interesting point. In any other sport in which I was to start for the first time, I would accept I'd be fairly rubbish to begin with. But practice practice practice would make me more and more competitive. Of course, in any other sport, it still means the players with less ability would have no chance against those with lots of it. The beauty of golf is that this gulf in ability is taken care off with the handicap system. I am a great lover of this. However, I was just curious as to whether it should be designed to completely cancel out ability (in general terms of course). I understand that the American handicap system used to have a 93% reduction to get to Playing Handicap, and so there seemed to be a touch of a factor there to slightly edge things towards the better players. I just felt it is not necessarily a terrible thing to reward golfers who put more effort into their game to improve, in terms of being competitive with other players
Other sports don't have handicapping as such but players are put into teams of similar levels so that a good game is had. My old hockey club ran 4 teams on a Saturday, equivalent rugby clubs in the area did similar. That covered the very good, the intermediate, the poor, the up and coming, those on the way down. Same as golf but different. No one wants a one sided game in any sport and each does their bit to equalise out and make their sport competitive.
 

Grant85

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I would be interested to see how memberships responded if you removed all incentives from competitions except bragging rights and handicap adjustments (except for major comps where there is already silverware). Would you get as many entries if you took away the reward of pro shop vouchers etc for winning. You would almost certainly see who was being 100% honest when they say that their only aim is get the handicap as low as possible.

It's a valid point. As I said, I want to get my handicap down. I could do out tomorrow and play a supplementary off the yellows, no pressure of competition, shorter course, pick whatever day I want with the most favourable conditions etc. But I won't win anything even if I have the best round of my life.

As it was, I played a few decent rounds in August and September without getting a cut but had a run of 3rd and 4th places with shooting +1 or +2 over CSS. It's not fortunes, but it builds up if you can play 2 comps a week and it is definitely a factor in me not going and playing supplementary too often. Other point being if I'm good enough, I'll be able to do it in competitions and get cut at the same time as building up a fund towards new equipment.

The fact I'm placing without shooting under par suggests that my club doesn't have any sandbaggers, and it's also a good test of golf where you can't nurse a score in after a good front 9.
 
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