Monday, April 28, 2014

Why Section 10-3 is Ineffective

A major problem with Section 10-3 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 10-3 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 (T-scores).  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 T-Scores a player has in his file as shown in the Table below.  If a player has three T-Scores, 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 T-Scores – 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 T-Score – Course Rating)
Since a player’s Net Score is his Gross T-Score minus his handicap, Equation 2 becomes):

Eq. 3)    Net Score ≤ Course Rating – Standard Difference · (Slope Rating/113)

Avg. of 2 Net Scores for Reduction in Handicap Index
(Course Rating = 68.7   Slope Rating = 119)

Number of T-Scores
Standard Difference
Avg. of 2 Best Net Scores[1]

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 T-scores.  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 10-3 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 four-ball 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 10-3 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 10-3 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 10-3 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.

[1] Both differentials must be 3.0 below a player’s Handicap Index.   

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