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Further Information about Handicaps

Created on Monday, 22 December 2014 Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 December 2015 Written by admin

The Outback Golf Bar re-introduces the USGA (PSC) Handicap system.


Many of you are aware that over the years, there has been intense rivalry between the handicap systems here in Pattaya. The IPGC & TRGG say that the CONGU system is better whilst the many members of the PSC will claim that the USGA is more suited to golf here. This article will briefly explore the merits of each but also clarify the recent decisions at the Outback.

In a nutshell, the CONGU system, used by golf clubs in the UK & Ireland, offers a simple and understandable solution to handicapping which many players prefer; you shoot a score better than your handicap only in a tournament and you are cut immediately according to your category. The CONGU system is a well tried and proven handicap system which is probably second to none for players playing consistently at a single club, but it falls flat on it's face the minute you take the said member's handicap to another course. The handicap from the member's home course just does not travel well and favors lower handicappers playing away from home a lot more than higher handicappers. Statistical analysis have found that lower handicappers, as a population of the total players in a tournament, and taken over many different course tournaments, will be in the leading 3 positions proportionately far more often than higher handicappers. This defeats the purpose of a handicap system which is ultimately to level the playing field for all players. Another issue is that some members have an easier course than others as their home [ie. handicap based course] meaning that their handicap on a tough course would be difficult to play to; thus giving the members of the tough course, an unfair advantage, which is not the essence behind any handicap system.

The USGA states that all scores should be entered, whether social or tournament, and updated on a fortnightly basis (implemented weekly by the PSC). It uses an average of your best 10 from last 20 scores which does not react to high scores being returned as rapidly as the CONGU calculation. Players are also often confused why their handicap changes, when their most recent rounds reflect nothing dramatic. That is because they would not normally be aware of what score is being kicked out at the other end [ie. their previous oldest counting]. So intuiatively, the USGA handicap is confusing because a player may have scored well but his handicap goes up, or didn't play well but his handicap seemed to have gone down. It's all in the maths however and it does work correctly! A big bone to be picked about the way that society's use the PSC system is that they don't take the slope and course index into calculation for the playing handicap of the day. This again leads to the same issue as with CONGU, since the contestants on an easier or more difficult course and tee will be advantaged or disadvantaged depending on if they are a lower or higher handicapper.

Until recently, Golf Australia were using a similar system to CONGU before they decided to convert to a variation of the USGA system counting the best 8 out of 20 scores. 

 What if you could take the best of the USGA system; say the flexibility of the system to move between golf courses and different tees [using the course ratings and slopes] and using of the correctly applied handicap index [eg. A golfer with a handicap index of 17.9 would play off 18 from the white tees at Pattaya C C whereas that same golfer would play off 21 from the yellow tees on Khao Kheow A & B].

Then combine it with the CONGU principles using the very same handicap categories applied immediately after the tournament. Well, there is such a system, the EGA Handicap System, which is used throughout Europe. The purpose of the system is to produce fair playing handicaps that are adjusted to the relative difficulty of the course being played and to achieve equity and uniformity of handicapping throughout Europe.  The Outback used the EGA system for a year on a trial basis, and admittedly, it was the best handicap solution to date. Before you tee off, you are advised by the day's organiser of your exact EGA Handicap. 

So why change again? There are several reasons. Firstly, introducing yet a third handicap system in Pattaya, which is getting smaller and smaller everyday for golfers, simply doesn't make sense and causes players who would otherwise have played with the Outback not to do so anymore since the handicaps between PSC and EGA very often have variances of up to 3 shots. Secondly, the USGA system used by the PSC is recognised worldwide and using your PSC handicap card, you can go and play golf anywhere in the world. And thirdly, and most important for me, is that by using the Tournament Manager software, we are able to use the USGA handicap system for daily tournaments as intented because we apply the course slope rating for balancing the difficulty index between low and high handicappers, and we use the course index to allow men and ladies, playing off different tee's to compete in a balanced way between each other. 

What this means to you: 

1) You don't have to have a PSC handicap to play at the Outback, and your daily handicap will be slope and index adjusted like the rest of the field by the software in order to play with us in a fair and balanced way based on the rating of the courses that we play. However, we will no longer maintain a seperate handicap system, and you would need to join the PSC to have your handicap maintained and adjusted based on results from your games. On the plus side, the moment you played in a competition with the Outback, your scores are uploaded on a daily basis automatically, and you can immediately see what your new projected handicap is in the PSC system. No other society do it as efficiently yet in Pattaya as the Outback.

2) The playing field between low and high handicappers, men and woman are still the most equal and balanced in Pattaya when playing with the Outback. How often have you seen guys complain that "ladies always win", or it's always the same guys that win? The reason is because the USGA system is not implemented by the society's in the prescribed way, simply because things are not done by them using software. 

3) Because the Outback records hole by hole gross scores for everyone playing with us, the software is far more reliable in working out the adjusted gross score (for pick ups on a hole), determining the correct points per hole, and the software doesn't make addition errors. Even though we always have markers checking our scorecard, I find a remarkable error rate of between 10 and 20% in any batch of cards on any giving day, often impacting the results.

Lastly, if you do have questions about handicaps and systems used etc. please feel free to contact me. I am on teh PSC handicapping committee as well, and will always strive to represent the Outback and the PSC in a fair, balanced and impratial manner.

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