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Dealing with Sandbagging
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Tournament Point System
Flighted events using the tournament...
How a club rolled-out KTPS
New For Flighted Events
Rancho Santa Fe Farms Adopts Knuth\\'s...
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Torrey Pines Men\\'s Club Variation
Sample Club Letter implementing KTPS
Sample Spreadsheet to help with KTPS
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Pope Of Slope



Recently, several golf clubs have asked me two questions: Q1. Does the Knuth Tournament Point System™ work for flighted team events when it was designed to work for events of 50 or more players? It seems that points can build up too fast in this case., and Q2. What should be done about the team partner that is on the winning team, but does not seem to be the dominant player?


The Point System works especially well for flighted team events. My own club assigns points to the individuals in the top five teams in each flight and it works quite well. First off, sixteen teams is enough teams to identify exceptional teams. However, the problem is that flights usually contain less than 50 players. As a result, Knuth Tournament Points can add up faster. To accommodate such events, I have designed a refined table below which adds a second dimension to the assignment of points and then a third dimension for the reduction of handicaps for tournament play.


Secondly, I am a firm believer that all team members should be assigned tournament points and get reduced (As one club calls it, getting "KNUTH\\'d"). Any member of a winning team is sharing in the winning experience, and the Point System is designed to spread the "wealth" (winning) around to other teams over time. Finally, if a clever sandbagger is hiding his individual scores inside of the team scores, he and his partner still should be assigned points. That is a beauty of the system--The scores don\\'t matter. The only thing that matters is the finishing position. If there is an innocent partner who also gets the points, nothing happens to his handicap until he has two or more high finishes. Remember, to accumulate seven points, one must either have a win and a fourth, or a second and a third--Two very strong finishes. It is in keeping with the USGA\\'s longtime philosophy that everyone can have one great round--you just can\\'t have two great rounds without consequences. I don\\'t think that an "innocent" partner is so innocent if he repeatedly teams with a bagger who gives him a high finish. Let someone else win for a while.


I ran a simulation program and expanded on the Knuth Tournament Point system that previously had been based on tournaments or flights that had to have a minimum of 50 players.

The new table is expanded to have columns for determining point distributions and is designed especially for clubs that flight their tournaments. The second table is useful for clubs that conduct many flighted events.


Total Players in the Flight or Field


Up to 20




First Place





Second Place





Third Place





Fourth Place





Fifth Place





Then, depending on the number of events entered, the reduction should vary:

Net Tournaments Played in two years

Total Points Earned

 Hdcp Reduction

8 or less

9 to 15

16 to 22

23 to 29

30 to 36

37 Plus






























Sample club letter implementing the Knuth Tournament Point System™

THE ABC GOLF CLUB (Letterhead)

Dear Fellow Member:

At our meeting on (Date), The ABC Golf Committee unanimously voted to establish a Tournament/Handicap Committee to include: Chairman of the Golf Committee, the Tournament Chairman and the Handicap Chairman.. The Golf Committee also voted to adopt the SCGA sanctioned Knuth Tournament Point System™ for our members effective (Date). This action was approved at the Board of Directors Meeting of (Date). This system has already been adopted by approximately 500 golf clubs in order to make tournaments fair and equitable to all players. At The ABC Golf Club, it is estimated that approximately 20 people will be affected.

The Knuth Tournament Point System™ was developed by former USGA Senior Director of Handicapping, Dean Knuth, who also invented the USGA Course Rating and Slope System. It insures that all competitors are competing on a more equal basis by using past performances. If all golfers are abiding by the score posting guidelines established by the USGA Handicap System, then each competitor should have the same chance as the next to win in tournaments. The Knuth system is based upon awarding points to the best NET finishers in the Club\\'s competitions that are important enough to be designated as "tournament scores" plus our Choose-ups on an annual basis. The USGA Handicap Index is not changed, however, players will compete in club tournaments at a reduced handicap based on past performance. We will be going back the last two years to start this program and will always use performances in the past two years to determine “Knuth Points”.

Handicap reduction for our tournament competition will be as follows:

When total points accumulated reach 7 tournament handicap reduces by 2
When total points accumulated reach 9 tournament handicap reduces by 3
When total points accumulated reach 11 tournament handicap reduces by 4
When total points accumulated reach 13 tournament handicap reduces by 5
When total points accumulated reach 15 tournament handicap reduces by 6
When total points accumulated reach 17 tournament handicap reduces by 7
When total points accumulated reach 18 tournament handicap reduces by 8
...and then 1 for 1 thereafter.

Please find enclosed the schedule of points for the above calculations and a brief explanation of the Knuth Tournament Point System™ (KTPS).
The purpose of using the KTPS is to help our entire membership to have a fair and equitable chance of winning our outstanding tournaments at our fine Club.

Have fun and enjoy the competition.


Enclosure one
Schedule of Points Two Years Cumulative Starting April I, 2002-March 31,2004
Los B**s

First 5 places in play off: 5 (for first), 4, 3, 2, 1 (for fifth)
Flight Winner: 3 points or if in above, whichever is greater
Flight Runner Up: 1 point or if in above, whichever is greater
First 5 places in play off: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Flight Winner: 3 points or if in above, whichever is greater
Flight Runner Up: 1 point or if in above, whichever is greater
Silver Club
Flight Winner: 3 points Flight Runner Up: 1 point
Club Championship
(Net Divisions Only)
Flight Winners: 3 points
Flight Runner Up: 1 point
Choose Ups
Annual Total on a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 point basis

In addition, the top 20 players (at a minimum will have their other Clubs called and check for the success they had in their major tournaments). These points will be added to above.
The adoption of the Knuth Tournament Point System™ will be followed for basic calculations but will not be the only basis for adjustment. The Tournament Committee may apply adjustments for some special situations that assure fair and equitable competition.
Guests who have won multiple times will be monitored for possible handicap adjustment to be fair to all of our golf participants. They must have handicaps that are certified at legitimate Clubs and not be arbitrary or at questionable Clubs or establishments. Past successes of guests at The ABC Golf Club must be considered, i.e., multiple years of success in our Rendezvous and Silver Club Tournaments.

Enclosure 2
Knuth Tournament Point System™ Explanation

In January, 1992, Section 10-3 of the USGA Handicap System manual, “Reduction of USGA Handicap Index Based on Exceptional Tournament Scores, was put into effect. Section 10-3 is designed to reduce the Handicap Index of a player who scores much better in tournaments than in casual play.

In reviewing net tournament results and addressing concerns from our member clubs, the indication is that Section 10-3 may not be doing enough to insure that all competitors are competing on any equal basis. If we assume that all golfers are abiding by the score posting guidelines established by the USGA Handicap System, then each competitor should have the same chance as the next to win in tournaments. For example, if you played in 100 tournaments of 100 players, each of you should win but once.

While it is true that some competitors do play better in competition than they do in everyday casual play, it is the opinion of many that most competitors seem to not score as well in competition as they do in their casual rounds. There are competitors that finish near the top quite often, yet they never seem to play well enough to have their handicap reduced under Section 10-3.

The Knuth Tournament Point System is based upon awarding points to NET finishers in your club\\'s competitions that are important enough to be designated as "tournament scores"(*) (see Section 2, USGA Handicap System Manual). Players or teams that finish in the top 5 places NET in the tournament will be awarded the appropriate number of points as listed on the table below. This is the top 5 in the entire field, not the top 5 in each flight. It may also include a person or team that collects a gross division prize.

*USGA Definition of a Tournament Score is a score made in a competition organized and conducted by a committee in charge of the competition. The competition must identify a winner(s) based on a stipulated round(s), and must be played under the principles of the Rules of Golf. Using the above definition as a guideline, the committee in charge of the competition shall determine in advance if these conditions are met, and announce in advance whether the score shall be identified by the letter “T” when posted. Routine events, such as regular play days, normally are not to be designated as T-scores because they are not significant in the traditions, schedules, formats and membership of the club. Examples of inter-club competition scores that should be posted as tournament scores when they meet the above conditions are team matches, competitions restricted by age, member-guest competitions, qualifying rounds for city, state and national competitions, and competitions conducted by golf associations. Examples of intra-club competition scores that should be posted as tournament scores when they meet the above conditions are low gross-low net competitions, four-ball match- or stroke-play competitions, Stableford competitions, and club championships which are stroke or match play, scratch or with handicap.

1s\\' Place

5 Points

2nd Place

4 Points

3rd Place

3 Points

4th Place

2 Points

5th Place

1 Point

If a player accumulates 7 points over a two-year period, his/her handicap for a tournament held at your club may be reduced by two shots. Each two additional points earned by the player in this two-year period would result in an additional stroke being subtracted from their handicap for the tournaments. Note that the USGA Handicap Index is not reduced, only the handicap that is assigned to the player for that event.

A sample situation is a golfer that placed 1st net in a club event last summer. He/she was awarded 5 points for that event. In September, the same golfer wins third place net, and is awarded 3 additional points. The golfer has just turned in an entry for an event in August of this year. The Committee can reduce this golfer\\'s course handicap by 2 strokes since the golfer has accumulated a total of 8 points.

In the case of a tie for one of the first 5 places, each of the individuals or teams would earn the full number of points for that placing. For example: Two individuals tie for 2nd place. Each individual would earn 4 points under this system. You would not give out 3rd place points (or add 2nd & 3rd place points together and divide by 2} under this scenario. The next finisher in line after the two individuals that tied would earn 2 points for the 4th place. No fractions of points are awarded.

The Committee may also collect results from outside events and use points earned in these events to further adjust the competitor\\'s handicaps.

This is a fair system for helping to give everyone a chance to win.

Sample Letter of Implementation

Dear Club Members,

The Tournament Committee, in an effort to "level the playing field" in our club golf tournaments, has adopted a Tournament Point System developed by Dean Knuth of the Handicap Department of the USGA.

The USGA Tournament Point System is based on awarding points to net finishers in our club\\'s major tournaments. Major tournaments at The Farms are considered to be any tournament of a two day duration or more. These would include, for example, our Member-Member Championship, The President\\'s Cup, our Club Championships (both regular and senior), and The Founders Trophy Invitational. Examples of tournaments not included would be our one day Member-Guests and Saturday Choose-Ups. (Our major tournaments, by the way, are the only rounds that are supposed to be posted as tournament scores on the handicap computer.)

Finishers in our major tournaments will be awarded five points to the individual, or all of the team members, finishing in first place. Four points will be given to 2nd place finishers, three to 3rd place, two points for 4th place, and one point for 5th place. Points are accumulated over a two-year period and are recalculated before each tournament. This accumulation will be retroactive to January 1, 1998.

Once a player accumulates 7 points during any two-year period his handicap for a major tournament will be reduced by two strokes for major club competitions only. For each additional 3 points accumulated, an additional 2-stroke reduction will be taken. Full deductions will be in effect starting January 1, 1999. These deductions will only be used during major tournament play and will not affect a player\\'s USGA Handicap Index issued by SCGA.

The Farms Handicap and Rules Committee will randomly check members\\' score posting so that no attempts to manipulate a players Handicap Index are made to make up for these adjustments.

The committee believes that the Tournament Point System will make our major net results more competitive and give more players a chance to finish at the top.

Questions about the Tournament Point System and how and when it will be applied should be directed to The Golf Shop.

Thank you,

The Tournament Committee


Copyright© 2016 by Dean Knuth


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