The 3 Types of Handicaps
There are 3 types of handicaps out there. They include: (1) honest handicaps; (2) sandbagger handicaps and (3) Hollywood handicaps.
Thankfully, the most common type of handicap is the honest handicap. This is a handicap that is determined by using a standard and accepted formula as defined by the governing golf body in a particular country. The golfer who carries an honest handicap is conscientious about keeping accurate scores, adhering to the accepted rules of golf and of considering all rounds played when applying the handicap formula.
The golfer who can be considered to be carrying a sandbagger handicap goes out of his way to make sure that his “official” handicap is somewhat higher than what it should be. The reason for doing this is pretty obvious. When competing in Net Score competitions (often involving money or prizes) he can have a distinct advantage.
A proper handicap, as mentioned above, must be based on all rounds played – good or bad. One “not so subtle” way to achieve the status of an elite sandbagger is to conveniently forget to enter good rounds but to be diligent to the extreme when it comes to entering bad rounds. If the golfer is “on a roll” with nothing but good rounds being shot, it may be necessary to make the supreme sacrifice and actually purposely play a bad round. “Gee, I just couldn't hit a fairway today!”
The third type of golfer is the one who carries a Hollywood handicap. This type of player is extremely interesting. This golfer has his heart in the right place – he takes the game seriously and desperately wants to improve and, perhaps more importantly, to be recognized as an accomplished player by his friends and peers. For the typical Hollywood handicap player, the handicap is everything. He would rather carry a low handicap and lose money than carry an inflated handicap and win money. A rare, but interesting breed!
To make my point, you should understand that the first step in computing a handicap using the standard USGA formula is to convert the Gross Score to what is called the Adjusted Gross Score (AGS). The AGS is equal to or lower than the gross score with an adjustment made by reducing unusually high hole scores. For example, in the US a typical bogey golfer (with a handicap between 10 and 19) cannot take more than a 7 on any hole.
OK, so you should now understand the difference between the Gross Score and the Adjusted Gross Score. Well, for the Hollywood handicap golfer, there is no difference. In fact, the concept of a gross score becomes obsolete. If the player happens to balloon to a triple bogey or worse on a par 5, he will typically say “just put me down for a double”, knowing that anything higher will not affect his handicap. And of course, the “put me down for a double” statement will have that unmistakable inflection of “surely you would not expect a player of my stature to put down a number higher than that”. Hmm, I have to wonder what would happen if Tiger, participating in a PGA event and after playing a rare bad hole, were to say “just jot down a par for that hole”. It wouldn't be pretty.
The final interesting thing about the Hollywood handicapper is that he will enjoy a cold beverage after a round of golf and discuss nonchalantly his final score. It would never occur to him that his 9 on the eighth hole should have any bearing on the validity of the score he discusses – a result where a 7 appears on the scorecard.
Still, when all the dust settles, I would rather play a Hollywood handicapper than a sandbagger in a heads up battle. Hey, who wouldn't?
About the Author: Brian Yager has keen interest in golf and his software
development skills led to the creation of CaddieMasterPro,
a personal handicap and performance analysis software program
available at his website, CaddieMaster Golf Software and in North American retail outlets.