A major problem with Section 103 is a player has to be the Jack
the Ripper of sandbaggers to be affected.
More moderate sandbagging, while still a winning strategy, escapes the
clutches of the Section. A review of the
methodology of Section 103 will expose its weakness.
The reduction in index for exceptional tournament scores is
a function of the difference between a player’s index and the average
differential of his two best tournament scores (Tscores). For a reduction to occur, this difference
must be greater than the “Standard Difference” set by the USGA. The Standard Difference varies with the
number of TScores a player has in his file as shown in the Table below. If a player has three TScores, for example,
the difference must be equal to or greater than 4.5. If a player competes on the same course, the
following inequality must be met for an index reduction to occur:
Eq. 1) Standard
Difference ≤ Handicap Index – (Avg. 2 Gross TScores – Course Rating) · (113/Slope
Rating)
For simplicity, assume the two gross scores are the same. Since a player’s handicap is his index
multiplied by the Slope Rating divided by 113, Equation 1 can be reduced to:
Eq. 2) Standard
Difference · (Slope Rating/113) ≤ Handicap – (Gross TScore – Course Rating)
Since a player’s Net Score is his Gross TScore minus his
handicap, Equation 2 becomes):
Eq. 3) Net Score ≤
Course Rating – Standard Difference · (Slope Rating/113)
Table
Avg. of 2 Net Scores for Reduction in
Handicap Index
(Course Rating = 68.7 Slope Rating = 119)
Number of TScores

2

3

4

59

1019

Standard Difference

4.0

4.5

5.0

5.5

6.0

Avg. of 2 Best Net Scores[1]

64.5

64.0

63.4

62.9

62.4

Now let’s see what Net Scores are necessary to trigger the
reduction in index. For illustration,
the Course Rating is 68.7 and the Slope Rating is 119. Assume a player has a 17.5 index and 14
Tscores. The Table indicates that if he
has two Net Scores of 63, he will not see a reduction in his index (i.e., his
two net scores average above 62.4). A
17.5 index leads to a handicap of 18. To
have a Net Score of 63, he would have a Gross Score of 81. Two Gross Scores of 81 would lead to an
average tournament differential of 11.7.
To determine if there would be a reduction, the average tournament
differential is subtracted from his index.
In this case, the difference is 5.8 (17.5 – 11.7). To receive a reduction this difference must
be 6.0 or greater. Therefore, the
player’s index is not reduced under Section 103 as the Table predicts.
The Table indicates great scores do not necessarily lead to
a reduction in index. The player can further
reduce his chances of getting a reduction by 1) playing in only one tournament
a year , 2) managing his score with discretion in fourball competitions (e.g.,
finding a water hazard when your partner is safely on the green), and 3)
posting regular rounds as tournament rounds when the handicap committee is not
paying attention.
While Section 103 does not always punish the guilty, it can
snare the innocent. For example, assume
a player is a 10.4 index and an 11 handicap on the course described above. He has two net scores of 68 (gross scores of
79) in a tournament, and did not win anything.
His two tournament differentials average 9.8. Later in the season his Handicap Index
increases to 13.9. At this point,
Section 103 kicks in and the player’s index is reduced by 1.0. He is assigned
a 12.9R. If the player continues to slump and his Handicap Index increases to
14.9, he is whacked even harder and given a 12.3R.
When Section 103 was introduced, its aim was to identify
the flagrant sandbagger and hang a scarlet “R” around his neck. This goal was
never met. Instead, getting an “R”
implies either 1) you are currently in a slump, or 2) you were not clever
enough to avoid being caught.