Sandbagging – What can be done?
On the first tee you set up a game, determine course handicaps, negotiate terms and tee off. You play your usual game, maybe a little worse than what your handicap might indicate (as the handicap system actually predicts you should) but by the time the round is over you realize you’re going to have to take out a small loan to cover what you owe your opponent.
The golfer that defeated you was a crafty one. Draining all the putts that mattered yet developing yips when it didn’t. Striping it down the middle with a swing that looks like Ernie Els’ but then hitting it OB when his lead was secure. You know you’ve been victimized by a world-class sandbagger and the bad taste it leaves in your mouth could last a month.
But what can be done? Together with the USGA, the NCGA has methodology in place to help clubs curb this nefarious practice:
1) Peer Review – Yes, ensuring that the score your opponent just shot got accurately posted is the most important step. With the availability of online handicap lookup, this has never been easier. Simply go to ncga.org’s homepage and in the green box, click “look up player by name.” Then, after filling out the fields, you should be presented with that player’s scoring record – but be sure to click “recent scores” to determine whether a score has been posted. Without clicking “recent scores” you will only see the numbers that determined the current handicap and not those most recently posted.
2) Skipping this step allows the bagger to escape once again. The most effective deterrent to sandbagging is a vigilant club.
3) Posting important tournament scores with a “T.” Ask yourself this question – is this an event that will bring sandbaggers out from under the rock they live under? Is that $500 golf shop credit first prize going to inspire your club’s baggers to new creative heights? Then make sure you post those rounds with a “T.”
4) Is your club observing the same player failing to post, not following the rules of equitable stroke control or taking other actions to manipulate scoring? There are tools available to handicap committees such as a posting a penalty score or in the most extreme cases, withdrawal of that player’s Handicap Index.
The NCGA’s comprehensive handicap certification program, now available online, outlines in complete detail the USGA Handicap System and steps club officers can take to protect their members and others from the sickness that is sandbagging.
What do you think? What else can be done?