James Savage: I shot a nett 74 in a medal at my home course, Hillsborough, where conditions were actually tougher than usual. It’s a par 71 so I should have been safely in the buffer zone. But the Competition Scratch Score had gone down to 69 because two players shot scores in the low nett 60s. So I’ve gone up .1 as a result of a couple of individuals with dubious handicaps and nothing really to do with how difficult or otherwise the course was on that day.
Dan Murphy: I’m a fan of the concept. I less think of CSS going down when conditions are favourable and more think of it going up when the weather is tough. So it is something that helps.
James Savage: I’m not massively opposed to CSS going up when conditions are very tough. It’s CSS going down as a result of a couple of people shooting silly scores.
Steve Carroll: How would you manage it, James?
James Savage: I’d scrap it.
Steve Carroll: So what happens to handicaps? What’s the measure by which they rise or fall? Do you just use an SSS (standard scratch score) instead?
James Savage: Yes.
Steve Carroll: If the rain and wind does come, though, and everyone actually struggles, is it then just tough luck?
Dan Murphy: Or, in James’s world, we could set SSS a shot or two lower everywhere and then say that it could only go up from there.
James Savage: Yes, because that will even itself over the course of a season. But as I said, I have less issue with CSS going up.
Tom Irwin: There will just be a bigger buffer zone.
James Savage: I think a course is more likely to play tough than easy. I think it’s quite rare that a course plays easier just because it’s not windy and raining.
Tom Irwin: All links courses are easy if it is not windy.
Steve Carroll: Could you split CSS into divisions, and then you’re being rated solely against the performance of your ‘peers’?
Tom Irwin: No because who your peers are is arbitrary. You have to have CSS for obvious reasons. If you NR you receive the same .1 as some who has missed the buffer by one and that is a nonsense.
Dan Murphy: Correct.
Steve Carroll: As someone who frequently misses a buffer by one, it is rather painful.
Dan Murphy: Anyone who gets within five should buffer, I reckon.
Steve Carroll: This seems logical – especially as handicaps are meant to be a projection of ability rather than an absolute.
Dan Murphy: Anyone between five and 10 gets .1.
James Savage: This is a good idea.
Dan Murphy: And anyone more than 10 but completing the round gets .2. An NR gets .3.
Tom Irwin: The other side of it is as we are all speaking from a position of wanting to be lower, but some people want to be higher so could go up quicker and abuse the position more under our new system.
Dan Murphy: Also true.
Steve Carroll: It’s abused all the time as it is. I give you the supplementary…
Dan Murphy: I say let them cheat. No different to someone miraculously ‘finding’ their ball, is it?
Tom Irwin: Hillsborough has at least two par 4s that are par 3s and at least one 5 so it is no surprise the CSS goes down.
James Savage: Just because a par 4 is driveable doesn’t make it a par 3. By that logic the 18th would be a par 6.
Tom Irwin: It wouldn’t
James Savage: You’re saying it’s a par 3 because a handful of players can hit it 280 in one. I’m saying it’s is a par 6 because a lot of people can’t hit it 630 in three.
Tom Irwin: It is also SSS 70 off the whites and 68 off the yellows. So the starting point for this debate is not amazing.
James Savage: I never play off the yellows.
Tom Irwin: Even off the whites your handicap would have gone up with no movement in the CSS – unless you had a nett triple or worse.
James Savage: This isn’t really about me. I didn’t even know the SSS was 70, I thought it was 71. I guess my point is it would be really annoying to work hard for a score that you thought would be in the buffer zone then get .1 back because the CSS has gone down. And it’s not gone down because the course was playing easier than normal. I could have shot 20 over my handicap for the same result.
Tom Irwin: I agree but the premise was not CSS just SSS which made no difference to your result. Anyway, the new handicap system does somewhat address this issue.
Dan Murphy: Let’s finish on a high – in our manifesto will be the pledge that the CSS can only go up and we’ll extend the buffer zone to five shots. Beyond that, it’s all up for grabs.