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About the Pope Of Slope

Pope Of Slope

18 Excuses for Not Turning in a Score

Golf Digest, November, 1987, page 156
by Robert Carney

This really happened. We were negotiating a small wager on the first tee a week ago and I asked my friend Jaws for his handicap.

"Twelve," he answered, "and you're a 6 so I get three shots a side."

"Wait a minute," I said. "What about the 75 you shot at Winged Foot West las month? How can you still be a 12 if you shot 75 on a course rated 74.5?"

"I didn't turn that in," Jaws answered. "My club won't take any scores shot out of the section."

There's always a reason. People who don't turn in scores, especially low scores, always have a good reason. So do people who hold up 7-Elevens. but "Round Outside of Section" was a new one on me. I added it to my list:

  • I was playing with my wife.
  • I didn't know the Course Rating.
  • I didn't know the Slope Rating.
  • I was in another state.
  • I was playing in a match and picked up twice.
  • I only played 16 holes.
  • I just got lucky.
  • My club takes only home-course scores.
  • The tees weren't really the blues and they weren't really the whites so there was no course rating.
  • I was on vacation.
  • I don't turn in scores from Myrtle Beach.
  • We were bumping the ball.
  • We played the back nine first.
  • I was using rental clubs.
  • It was my second 18 of the day.
  • The weather was bad.
  • It was Sunday and I was walking my dog.

Terrific excuses, all, but Round Outside of Section, for some mysterious reason, was my Eureka. The clouds parted. I saw the light.

Aha, I said to myself, I have a U.S. Golf Association Handicap. A lot of other people don't. The USGA Handicap System, according to its manual, "is based on the assumption that every player every acceptable round for handicap purposes, regardless of where the round is played."

Acceptable rounds, says the USGA, include rounds of 13 holes or more (Foreshortened rounds are completed by giving yourself on the remaining holes a par, plus any strokes you're entitled to. If you're a 6 and the hole is ranked 6 or lower, you take a bogey.) They include out-of-section or out-of-state rounds. They include match play rounds.(If you're conceded a putt and it's improbable you would have made it, add one.) They include rounds played with spouses, children and small animals tagging along. They include rainy rounds and sunny ones. You can wear a swimsuit and slippers and it still counts. As long as you're playing the Rules of Golf, i.e., not playing two balls.

I recently played six rounds in Ireland on courses with no course or Slope ratings. Do I turn them in? Absolutely, says USGA Director of Handicapping Dean Knuth. My handicap chairman will determine an approximate course rating based strictly on yardage

Jaws considers this hogwash. He's a 12 under a system that allows the discarding of scores shot out-of-state, out-of-section or when playing with his wife. He also doesn't count incomplete rounds, vacation rounds or rounds played on courses where he forgot to get the Course Rating.

So my 6 and his 12 are like apples and oranges. I should have my head examined for even thinking about giving him six shots.

This is not sour grapes from a guy who can't play to his handicap. I play to it frequently or I wouldn't have it. Nor is it an attack on sandbaggers--though it amuses me that fellows who regularly rail against the welfare system should rely on what amounts to a handout system when they play golf. Still, all's fair if it's the same handout system we're using.

But we're not. Handicaps were meant to allow players of different levels to compete on an equal basis. If those handicaps are based on different systems of collecting scores, then that's not possible.

Thank's to Jaws, I have a new policy toward first-tee negotiations. If your handicap and mine are close to the same, within a couple of strokes, I'll suggest we play even. If they're not, I ask this question: "How many of your last 20 rounds did you record?" If the answer is 20, I'll ask for or give the difference in our handicaps. If the answer is other than 20, I'll be happy to play even--or for fun.

And I'll buy you a drink with all the money Jaws has saved me.


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