USGA Solo Rounds Clarified; Still Calling Me A Liar

Disciplining the peasants
Disciplining the peasants

The USGA Solo Rounds fiasco continues. The tone-deaf Lords of Far Hills posted a clarification of their new handicap rules which say that singles golfers can’t be trusted to post accurate scores:

What constitutes not playing alone?
As long as someone accompanies the player during the round (e.g., fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart) the player is not playing alone.

How many holes can a player play alone to post the score?
The player must be accompanied for at least seven holes for a nine-hole score or 13 holes for 18-hole score.

This is consistent with Section 5-1 and the minimum number of holes played under the Rules of Golf.

For the holes played alone (not accompanied), the player would treat these as not played under the Rules of Golf and post according to “par plus” any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive.

They’re still calling me a liar (read my rant from yesterday). If you’re a peasant who plays and record solo rounds (and that is a great many of us), the Golf Lords are calling you a liar, too.

Golf Canada, on the other hand, doesn’t think its members are liars and villeins (a medieval term for peasant, from whence villain, a character with evil motives)

In a pair of tweets, Golf Canada wrote:

Unlike The USGA, Golf Canada Doesn't Believe Its Members Are Liars
Unlike The USGA, Golf Canada Doesn’t Believe Its Members Are Liars

Thankfully, I live close enough to Canada that I can drive over the Ambassador Bridge to play solo.

I agree with GolfBlogger’s Loyal Reader Martin who, in a comment on another post wrote:

Now this rule … would appear that it is an attempt to address one guy at one club who is going out and posting inflated scores. But here’s the thing, handicap committees have tools to address abuse, but the bigger challenge is getting folks to post enough scores to make a valid handicap.

I have long thought that the USGA was out of touch with a large segment of its audience. The Aristocrats who hold sway over the USGA have no appreciation for the game the peasants play at our public access munis, putting on our shoes in the parking lots, and hitting balls out of rocky bunkers with decade old clubs. The stoke-and-distance rule, for example, is wonderful in tournaments and upscale clubs with widely spaced tee times and leisurely conditions. If you try to go back to re-hit on a muni, you’re taking your life into your hands. The three groups behind you are likely to put your body in a sand trap where you’ll never be seen again. Then there’s the ruling that you get a free drop from fire ants, but not from poison ivy. The Lords of Golf have fire ants on their courses, but never poison ivy.

Notice the USGA’s suggestions for who can attest to a score: fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart. 

Caddie? Seriously? I’ve been to exactly two courses that had caddies, and one of them was Colonial Country Club in Texas. The other charges $190 a round, plus another $50 and gratuities for the caddie. Most peasant muni golfers can’t afford that sort of luxury. That’s why we play at munis (aside from the fact that I like the honest, down-to-earth people there)

Marker in a tournament? That assumes high end golfers. Nothing for the peasant golfer there.

“Friend riding along in a cart”? I’ve seen guys riding with their non-golfer wives, and players with a couple of kids in the shotgun seat (the deal with the wife was that if you’re playing golf, you’re getting the kids out of my hair) Neither of those situations are going to make a score more truthful. (And riding along in a cart? What about walkers? Who walks with a non-playing friend?)

Singles need not apply. They’re liars and villeins. In fact, the USGA must think that all its members are — at their core — liars and villeins. It is just that under supervision and peer pressure, some will behave. Just as medieval lords thought their peasants / villeins would behave only under threat of the sword.

The USGA is not “for the good of the game,” but “for the good of high revenue tournaments and high-end clubs.”

8 thoughts on “USGA Solo Rounds Clarified; Still Calling Me A Liar”

  1. I got more mad as I read the “clarification” today as well.
    Specifically about what happens when your twosome is created on the 3rd hole, or your partner disappears on the 15th hole. Recording par plus for 16-18. What are you gonna do record a row of 7s coming in? Your buddy who played the first 15 holes is going to give you a real “peer review” if you tell him that tomorrow.

    And my wife sitting the cart with her book. You might as well say that the squirrel eating a nut just off the green also constitutes not playing alone. What happens if said wife has to go to the ladies room halfway through a hole. Do I record par plus for that hole? We’re gonna need a decision USGA.

    I think we have two types of liars with the solo rounds: 1) You have someone who posts a number higher than they shot. The blatant sandbagger, who knows he is a liar and doesn’t care.
    2) Someone who posts a lower number. They took a mulligan. They picked up and took par plus when they were out of the hole.
    They did a “well if this second attempted first putt goes in, I had a birdie, because I can’t accept that I missed a 3 footer”. They are looking for the 79 when they should have had an 82-83.
    #1 is going to go post a score today even though he was in the office, because he is a bigger SOB than the USGA Handicap committee is a group of morons. #2 is not going to post that round. So how did things not just get WORSE? I suppose that #2s handicap will go up a little, so he is a little more ready to deal with the Sandbagging A-hole.

    I wonder if Dean Knuth agrees with this rule change? I can’t believe that he would. Looking forward to his commentary.

  2. Pure fantasy but imagine this:

    A member at Winged Foot lost a handicap match to a retired bus driver who maintained a handicap at Meadowdale Golf and Bowling Center. The Winged Foot member was so upset that he asked his good friend, a board member of the USGA, to ban all public course golfers from having a handicap. While everyone on the board agreed in principle, they were aghast at the thought of the lost revenue for GHIN and/or the loss of membership fees paid by public course golfers. As a compromise, the USGA decided to make it exceedingly difficult for a non-private course member to have an accurate handicap. End of story.

  3. Agree with USGA. I’m American living in another country and our club ($25 per year) has expats from a dozen+ countries (UK, Oz, NZ, SA, EU, etc) and they have always done it this way. USA is the outlier.

    Your rant is funny. You sound like the broomstick guys. Tell your kids and students if they don’t like a rule or law to just break it. I used to read your blog all the time. When you changed platforms it became more difficult. Now I’ll skip it. 0% kred.

  4. I continue to be pissed about this. Mainly because I will need to figure out how we go to members and tell them when NOT to post, when we have spent the last few months telling them they have to post.

    But now that the anger fog has lifted and I have thought about a couple ways which the system could be improved. I wish I knew who to go to on this, probably start with our state handicap director:
    1) Cut the crazy ESC maxes of double bogey, 7,8,9, & 10. Why is it that a 9 handicap has a double bogey max, but if I am a 10, then my max is a 7. And a max 7 gives you no chance for error on a par 5, and a huge max score on a par 3. Since many play with ESC as their max for pace of play, you don’t want people out of a hole on a par 5, and you don’t want them to take excesssive time on a par 3 (pace of play is generally best on a par 5, and par 3 is the worst). Make it simple – Under 20 – Triple Bogey. 20 & over – Quad Bogey. ESC is necessary, but it is too complicated and frustrating when you have a low handicapper playing with a 25. I see way too many low handicappers calling for high guys to pick up, more often because the low handicapper does not understand the brackets of ESC.

    2) Keep more lower tournament scores, longer. This truly hits the sandbagger – Keep up to the last 10 tournament scores for a period of 4 years. Tournament scores expire after a year – meaning that net tournament you sandbagged your way to a win with a (I never do that) low score last year will have those scores perhaps roll off before you play in it this year — that (I never do that) low tournament score should be a prize you carry on your handicap card for years. Show it off!

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