April  2021


CG Tournament Handicap Reductions


Over the past roughly 20 years of doing this Handicap Chairman thing at various clubs, I have struggled to objectively assess whether someone’s handicap didn’t match their skill level.


I spent much of last summer grinding data that comes out of Golf Genius to figure it out and I finally have something I feel good about.


The USGA Handicap System is a well-known SWAG – Scientific Wild Ass Guess – meaning a Wild Ass Guess that you used a spreadsheet or calculator. It’s pretty good at identifying a golfer’s skill level, but it’s not perfect.  Because it’s imperfect, the USGA gives a club’s Handicap Committee and tournament committee broad authority to make adjustments it deems necessary.


Some things that may cause a golfer’s skill level to not match his or her handicap

  • Improving faster than posted scores can keep up. This could be due to lessons, more practice, just “figured something out,” etc.
  • Recovering from an injury and improvement is more rapid than posted scores can keep up
  • Naturally more intense, more thorough, more careful or something else that causes someone to perform notably better in a competition than during casual play
  • There may be other completely legitimate reasons why skills and handicaps don’t match
  • Or the golfer may be taking the rest of us as chumps and working the system to their advantage


I was able to glean from data extracted after all rounds played last year some “exceptional” kinds of things going on. Some guys were on the net leaderboard lots more than others. Some guys posted some really slow net scores. Some guys posted low scores lots more than others. I needed something more than “I know it when I see it” to do anything about it.


Using data from all rounds last year

  • I documented the 10% of all net scores each week. If you end up in the top 10% notably more than everyone else, then we will adjust your handicap for CG events by 1 stroke.


  • From the Exceptional Score Probability table, Net 7 under seems to be clearly out of reach. Anyone who posts a net 64 or better in one of our events, we will adjust your handicap for CG events by 1 stroke.


  • Net 67 seems to be a line in the sand bases on my analysis. Lot of scores last year were under par, but once you got to a net 4 under, it was clearly exceptional. If you get to Net 65, 66 or 67, we will congratulate you on a great round. If you are two or more times net 67 or lower, we will adjust your handicap for CG events by 1 stroke.


You could be subject to reductions from one condition, two or all 3. Regardless of the number of times someone is identified, we will only adjust 1 stroke for tournaments for each condition and a maximum adjustment of 3 strokes for one of our events.


I used all stroke play rounds from last summer. Each time I add a round this year, I will drop a round from last summer, creating a rolling one year analysis. That means that by the end of this year, all of last year’s rounds will drop so any adjustments will just be from this year play.