Inviting a Known Sandbagger to a Tournament

tahoebum

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If you are accurate and his real index is a 7, and he consistently keeps it at a 10, I'd tell the president why I'm not inviting him. It sounds like he's been doing this for years, so it's time someone should call him out on it. I'm surprised he's still allowed in any game or tournament if he consistently shoots under his handicap in tournaments. All the clubs I've been at sniff out those sandbaggers, and they either have their index adjusted or are not included in anything.

It's a crappy position for you to be in, and if he's a cheater, he will likely not react well to being called out for it.
 

IceyShanks

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I think your steps sound realistic. We are going to begin using CapPatrol at my home course this year, and through that analysis I assume we will manually drop a few members handicaps based on the statistics shown in that report. For you having the tournament organizer adjust before he plays makes sense.
 

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If he manages his handicap I wouldn't invite him it is your reputation on the line. You need to be comfortable with what you do.

For your local stuff you should have a tournament handicap. My Dad plays with a mens group and they have a handicap that is tracked and adjusted for the group.

We had a guy at my old club that always finished in the money in stuff. It was slowly realized that he played during the week and didn't post the scores so his handicap wasn't representative of his actual game. There was a push to get him to start to post scores and he posted some but not all.

I got into it once with a good player at our club. We were playing our big member member event and he was playing to a 5 handicap. I looked at his scores for the year and every score he had posted was from our white tees. I never saw him play the white tees and I had played several rounds with him from the blue tees which were 2.5 strokes different in course rating. To me it was a clear example of him trying to manipulate his handicap. It was not a pleasant conversation but I didn't get any justice either. He was a well liked guy. I had to give him 2 strokes in a 9 hole match and he shot 33.

Sandbaggers suck.
 

millsan1

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I would not bring a ringer. As stated by some others, it would reflect poorly on me, more than them. Plus, I would not want to do that to the field. But it also isn't my decision.
 

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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions so far. I will try to respond to some of you that I think I have answers for. Also, see the end of the post for what has transpired since I posted yesterday regarding X.

@scott.french3: Our club uses the NCGA app/website (Nor Cal Golf Assoc.) and we post our own scores. Then the president, who also is the tournament chairman retrieves everyone's most recent index for the upcoming tournament. NCGA does have a feature to indicate whether the score is Home, Away, or Competition. Unfortunately, the enforcement is kind of lax and basically everyone is on his/her honor.

@Raiderboost: How does X sandbag? Firstly, I am going to put the following link: https://golf.com/instruction/rules/sandbagging-golf-inflate-handicap/

Based on the 11 ways I think he is doing 1 and 2 (we putt out during our tournaments, and when X playing money games everyone has a marker on the putter shaft about 19 inches from the bottom of the putter head and anything inside that is a gimme--which is as close as putting everything out. I don't think he is doing 3 through 10. I don't know the answer to 11 but I think he practices.

One of us in the club suspects that he posts higher scores where he is not playing with his regular playing partners, or maybe even what I would call "phantom" rounds (i.e., rounds he never actually played) posting artificially high scores to help him cycle out the legitimate lower scores faster. Looking at his last 20 scores (these days GHIN is based on the best 8 rounds) I see a lot of mid to high 80s posted as Away. Then more often than not he shoots 78-80 in the tournaments.

I would say X is mentally tough and knows how to concentrate when it matters.

@BigDill: I, as well as and other members of our small club, have told the president about X. However, he is a good friend of X. They will almost always share a hotel room when our club travels for golf trips. He complains about X being a bagger but doesn't want to "rock the boat". X, being a long time members, are being tolerated by others in our club (however, most of them would also grumble about losing money in casual rounds or placing lower in tournaments to X.)

@Smiter: I have probably played 25+ round with X. He could be as low as a 6 but definitely not a 2.

@bigskyirish: For this tournament in AZ, I am not sure why the organizer have the lower cappers tee up from the longer tees but all players get the course handicap corresponding to the tees they are hitting from. My guess is that the organizer, who is a long hitter (a 7 and capable of reaching some par 5s in 2) figures he has an advantage playing with other lower cappers who don't have his length.

@ArmyGolf: I am, as well, most others in our club, know X is a bagger. See above about how one member thinks how X is doing it.

Unfortunately other than the adjustment by the app for exceptional low scores in competitive rounds our club does not use the league score (Our tournaments used to be 10 times a year but it's down to 6 due to lower participation.)

@e1iterate: unless we get the president and the handicap chairman to get X to use his 12-month low, it's not going to happen.

@Snowman: I have never confronted X directly and probably won't in the future. As I mentioned before, there are others in our club who have known him at longer (and gamble with X during casual rounds )and if they don't want to call him out, I am just going to let it go. I just don't invite X to casual rounds and during other golf rounds I don't give him side action anymore.

@taquila4kapp (You must be a fellow Cal alum, Me: Class of 1984), and other along the same line: See the end of the post.

@blugold: I am not qualified to psychoanalyze X. He doesn't really need to money. Maybe during casual rounds his goal is to win enough money to cover the green fees. Again, I choose to "vote with my feet". I don't socialize with X outside of golf anyway. I have a regular golf partner and can get a bunch of others to make up a foursome if I want anytime.

@Duffer Seamus: Yes, as mentioned before, pretty much everyone knows it, but no one has the will to do anything about it.

Update:

As it turned out 1 of our club members whom I invited to the AZ tournament last year (let's call him Y) invited X. During our last club tournament a couple of weeks ago the words got around about the AZ tournament after the post-round gathering and some people were invited but not X. I guess the Y felt bad (not sure if he was pressure by the president or not) and extended the invitation to X in order to keep the peace.

Now, I am off the hook in a sense. Going forward I have to decide whether to inform the organizer about X specifically if X decides to sign up, or wait until closer to the tournament to see what index X will be at before maybe having a discussion with the organizer. I feel if X is playing from the blue tees (which means he is below the cut-off of between 10 and 11--the extra index TBD) he won't do as well even with the corresponding course handicap. However, if somehow X manages to get himself a high enough index to play from the whites then I definitely want to have a talk with the organizer.

FYI originally, I thought the prize pool contribute was about $100 per person for the entire tournament but it will be closer to $200 total per. The extra $100 will be for closest to the pin, skins, and hole of the day--although that entry is optional but it will likely be 100% participation.)
 

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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions so far. I will try to respond to some of you that I think I have answers for. Also, see the end of the post for what has transpired since I posted yesterday regarding X.

@scott.french3: Our club uses the NCGA app/website (Nor Cal Golf Assoc.) and we post our own scores. Then the president, who also is the tournament chairman retrieves everyone's most recent index for the upcoming tournament. NCGA does have a feature to indicate whether the score is Home, Away, or Competition. Unfortunately, the enforcement is kind of lax and basically everyone is on his/her honor.

@Raiderboost: How does X sandbag? Firstly, I am going to put the following link: https://golf.com/instruction/rules/sandbagging-golf-inflate-handicap/

Based on the 11 ways I think he is doing 1 and 2 (we putt out during our tournaments, and when X playing money games everyone has a marker on the putter shaft about 19 inches from the bottom of the putter head and anything inside that is a gimme--which is as close as putting everything out. I don't think he is doing 3 through 10. I don't know the answer to 11 but I think he practices.

One of us in the club suspects that he posts higher scores where he is not playing with his regular playing partners, or maybe even what I would call "phantom" rounds (i.e., rounds he never actually played) posting artificially high scores to help him cycle out the legitimate lower scores faster. Looking at his last 20 scores (these days GHIN is based on the best 8 rounds) I see a lot of mid to high 80s posted as Away. Then more often than not he shoots 78-80 in the tournaments.

I would say X is mentally tough and knows how to concentrate when it matters.

@BigDill: I, as well as and other members of our small club, have told the president about X. However, he is a good friend of X. They will almost always share a hotel room when our club travels for golf trips. He complains about X being a bagger but doesn't want to "rock the boat". X, being a long time members, are being tolerated by others in our club (however, most of them would also grumble about losing money in casual rounds or placing lower in tournaments to X.)

@Smiter: I have probably played 25+ round with X. He could be as low as a 6 but definitely not a 2.

@bigskyirish: For this tournament in AZ, I am not sure why the organizer have the lower cappers tee up from the longer tees but all players get the course handicap corresponding to the tees they are hitting from. My guess is that the organizer, who is a long hitter (a 7 and capable of reaching some par 5s in 2) figures he has an advantage playing with other lower cappers who don't have his length.

@ArmyGolf: I am, as well, most others in our club, know X is a bagger. See above about how one member thinks how X is doing it.

Unfortunately other than the adjustment by the app for exceptional low scores in competitive rounds our club does not use the league score (Our tournaments used to be 10 times a year but it's down to 6 due to lower participation.)

@e1iterate: unless we get the president and the handicap chairman to get X to use his 12-month low, it's not going to happen.

@Snowman: I have never confronted X directly and probably won't in the future. As I mentioned before, there are others in our club who have known him at longer (and gamble with X during casual rounds )and if they don't want to call him out, I am just going to let it go. I just don't invite X to casual rounds and during other golf rounds I don't give him side action anymore.

@taquila4kapp (You must be a fellow Cal alum, Me: Class of 1984), and other along the same line: See the end of the post.

@blugold: I am not qualified to psychoanalyze X. He doesn't really need to money. Maybe during casual rounds his goal is to win enough money to cover the green fees. Again, I choose to "vote with my feet". I don't socialize with X outside of golf anyway. I have a regular golf partner and can get a bunch of others to make up a foursome if I want anytime.

@Duffer Seamus: Yes, as mentioned before, pretty much everyone knows it, but no one has the will to do anything about it.

Update:

As it turned out 1 of our club members whom I invited to the AZ tournament last year (let's call him Y) invited X. During our last club tournament a couple of weeks ago the words got around about the AZ tournament after the post-round gathering and some people were invited but not X. I guess the Y felt bad (not sure if he was pressure by the president or not) and extended the invitation to X in order to keep the peace.

Now, I am off the hook in a sense. Going forward I have to decide whether to inform the organizer about X specifically if X decides to sign up, or wait until closer to the tournament to see what index X will be at before maybe having a discussion with the organizer. I feel if X is playing from the blue tees (which means he is below the cut-off of between 10 and 11--the extra index TBD) he won't do as well even with the corresponding course handicap. However, if somehow X manages to get himself a high enough index to play from the whites then I definitely want to have a talk with the organizer.

FYI originally, I thought the prize pool contribute was about $100 per person for the entire tournament but it will be closer to $200 total per. The extra $100 will be for closest to the pin, skins, and hole of the day--although that entry is optional but it will likely be 100% participation.)
Ultimately you are in a situation where if you invite him and then you guys win (even at a lower number for him), it will be uncomfortable.
Id just avoid the whole mess.
 

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I wouldn't play in the tournament if X is playing in it. What's the point?
Yup. Dad “beat” me for 9 last year. He played in a more serious league this year. Much more in tune with playing closer to the same game from a rules perspective as me.

I was actually rooting him on, if he birdied 9 it would have been his first sub 40 9 ever. Even if he was rolling every ball, lol. Gave himself a look but carded a par and a 40.
 

Sean

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Yup. Dad “beat” me for 9 last year. He played in a more serious league this year. Much more in tune with playing closer to the same game from a rules perspective as me.

I was actually rooting him on, if he birdied 9 it would have been his first sub 40 9 ever. Even if he was rolling every ball, lol. Gave himself a look but carded a par and a 40.
I just don't get the sandbagging thing. I mean, what does the sandbagger get out of it? A trophy? Accolades? Some cash? He knows he didn't earn any of that...so what's the point?
 

Pinche Baboso

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I belong to a club which we play monthly tournaments at different courses (and everyone has an official handicap.) We have about 30 members and typically we only have 12-16 players per tournament and these are regular players so obviously everyone knows everyone else's game.

We have a long term member (let's call him X) who is a known sandbagger. X is about 55, not a long hitter, average on iron accuracy/distance, but great at scrambling and seldom have any blow-up hole (so basically he knows how to score.) Right now his index is around 10-something but he regularly breaks 80 at our tournaments (FYI most of our members are 40-60 so we play off the whites or around 6,000 yards on different courses, which on the average would translate to a course rating of about 70 on a par 72 and a slope rating of about 125.

X is a relatively nice guy both on and off the course, not a super stickler on the rules during casual rounds both on himself or his playing companions. I have not seen him cheat on the course (e.g., improving lies, reporting lower score on the hole, move the ball closer to the hole on the green). I suspect he builds up his handicap when he is not playing in the tournament somehow.

We do get a foursome together once in a while and play a version of Vegas with rotating partners at 25 cents a point and X usually wins on the average about $20 (yes, he does lose sometimes but not very often.)

What I am saying is that he should be more around a 7 or an 8 instead of a 10 (BTW his lowest index since the beginning of 2020 when everyone's handicap was reset based on the new formula was a 6-something.) And he can shoot low scores consistently.

FWIW I am attaching a link showing the probability of shooting your handicap or better during a given round:


I understand the above data were taken before 2020 (based on the old formula) but the table should still be relevant. Basically, you should only be able to shoot your index about once every 5 rounds. If you do it more often than that (or more egregiously, a few strokes lower consistently, well...Bagger!)

With all that preface here is my dilemma: I have been invited to a golf tournament in AZ during the summer for the second time this year (I know the organizer for about 20 years and he has only played with 2 to 3 other players in my club, but not X yet.) There will be around 40-50 players (we had about 30 last year.) There will be 4 rounds with players getting 100% of their handicaps. The low handicappers will tee off from the blues (getting the corresponding course handicap adjustments) and others tee off from the whites (same, albeit not as much). Each player will be contributing about $100 to the prize pool to be paid as follows:

1. Place based on cumulative net score after 4 rounds: Everyone will get paid (if you consider $1 for last place getting paid). Based on my estimate first place can be as high as $1,000 and the next 2 are in the high hundreds. So obviously a player's handicap would greatly affect where he finishes.

2. Closest to the pin on every par 3: This would probably somewhat handicap independent because the lower handicappers will be playing from longer distances on these holes.

3. Net and gross skins (separate): On each round you can win a net skin and/or a gross skin on any hole where no one else ties you. Normally, there will be a few winners sharing equally the prize pool each round. Again, a sandbagger would get strokes on a few holes each day which he does not deserve so his chances on a net skin would improve.

4. Hole of the day: On each round one specific hole is designated prior to the round so if any player shoots net par or better on that hole will share the prize pool. For this one I don't think X would benefit because based on my debut last year the designated hole each round is at least the 4th toughest hole or tougher.

Now, I have invited a few players from my club including the our current and longtime president, but not X. For the record 2 members of my club attended last year's tournament via my invitation so technically either of them can invite people from our club for this year (and did) but again, not X. They seemed to be waiting for me to be the one to pull the trigger. Just recently I got a text from our president asking me why I had invited a few of the other members but not X. He and X are close and I guess he tolerates X (but doesn't benefit from X since they play with each other frequently.) BTW, the president is a really good guy and everyone likes him.

So, now I am kind of under a little pressure to invite X to keep our president happy but I also want to "protect the field". I know that X knows about the tournament but I am not sure if X is influencing the president to push me to get him invited knowing how lucrative it could be. I think the organizer is sensitive of letting any sandbagger into the tournament so I also don't want to jeopardize the other members' (including the 2 other who have played and this year's invitees) and my own reputation.

So far the best solution I have come up with is (which I have not executed):

Step 1. I will inform the organizer about X and see if he will even consider having X if we were to assign X a lower handicap despite what X's official handicap indicates (I feel comfortable at least an 8 but maybe even better at a 7.) If the organizer does not agree I can tell my president what transpired and it's not my decision.

Step 2. If the organizer agrees I can then extend the invitation to X but tell him if he accepts he will have to play to a specific lower handicap (I have no problem call him out.) Whether X accepts or declines at least I am off the hook.

Sorry about the long narrative. Any suggestions?

If this is an established tourney, then most of the time you will see NEW players get a cut to 50% of HC or close to that. Heck, one of the events I play in each year is a huge money game....anyone is welcome, but if you are new, you play at scratch, regardless of your HC.

To start in reverse - the absolute WORST thing that could happen is you invite a newbie to a group of established players and he snaps it off with ease - you may get uninvited!!
 

mmaynard11

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I am sure we will run into this in a tournament I am playing at next week. I promise it won't be in my group though.
 

Drumdog

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You said you don't have a problem calling him out, so just do that. Tell him that you believe he sandbags and unless he requests to play at a lower number, you won't invite him.
 

Raiderboost

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Based on the 11 ways I think he is doing 1 and 2 (we putt out during our tournaments, and when X playing money games everyone has a marker on the putter shaft about 19 inches from the bottom of the putter head and anything inside that is a gimme--which is as close as putting everything out. I don't think he is doing 3 through 10. I don't know the answer to 11 but I think he practices.

One of us in the club suspects that he posts higher scores where he is not playing with his regular playing partners, or maybe even what I would call "phantom" rounds (i.e., rounds he never actually played) posting artificially high scores to help him cycle out the legitimate lower scores faster. Looking at his last 20 scores (these days GHIN is based on the best 8 rounds) I see a lot of mid to high 80s posted as Away. Then more often than not he shoots 78-80 in the tournaments.

I would say X is mentally tough and knows how to concentrate when it matters.
In regards to 1 and 2, unless he is intentionally hitting and missing those gimme putts then he isn't sandbagging, everyone else is just helping theirs. We have a few groups that start giving 3-5 ft. putts and then come tournament time might miss a couple of those and wonder why they never win. As for 11, there is nothing wrong with practicing before a tournament to sharpen the game.

Now if he is posting a lot of rounds form other courses that are much higher then I could see that being an issue. Does he play these with other members from your course, with outside guys from those or other courses, or by himself? One way to handle that would be ask to see cards from those rounds, if he doesn't have them then require that he bring in attested scorecards and give to the pro or someone on a handicap committee. That would probably be a good practice going forward to verify an away rounds are legit.

Hopefully he plays and doesn't shoot way under and it doesn't cause any issues.
 
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Smiter

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I just don't get the sandbagging thing. I mean, what does the sandbagger get out of it? A trophy? Accolades? Some cash? He knows he didn't earn any of that...so what's the point?
If anything this was the reverse of it if he kept a HC which he has a league one now but it’s not GHIN. He just plays for fun and I was rooting him on but we weren’t playing the same game.

He’ll get very rightoues about rules rulings though when he thinks he’s right or you are in one of those rare instances where the rules may help you out. Lol. I haven’t lost one of those to him yet. I may have to play under protest or play two ballsbut if I’m telling the man I’m SURE of it, I’m not wrong.

Funnyish rules story. I was playing with Colin last year. Part of playing with him is teaching him rules as you need to know them to play competitively. He busted a drive on a par 5 and found himself dead center of the fairway 200.2 yards out, directly behind the 200 stake. I asked him “ok dude, what’s the ruling?” He shrugged his shoulders, pulled the stake and hit his shot, no taking a drop, nothing-😂. I didn’t even know they came out.

Simple solutions.

Simple solution would be best for the above too. If known to be a Sandbagger the tournament director should be notified. I’d hope they’d only use T scores to factor his HC for any event.
 

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If he's turning in his scores each time he wins and low scores give you your Hcp, I'm not sure how he artificially is keeping it high. Is he not turning in the scores when he takes your money? That should be something your pro could check during the year, I suppose. Otherwise I like BigDill's response as closest to reasonable.
 

F.N.G

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I know for me personally, I am a slow player. So with that said, in casual rounds I will rush shots, move faster and not focus as much to worry about pace of play. In tournament golf where everyone is moving more my natural speed of play and there is more time to think and focus, I shoot easily 4 to 5 strokes better than in a casual round. After a while of being labeled a sandbagger and not knowing what anyone was saying behind my back, a buddy drank enough one day to call me a cheater. I was floored to say the least! I just knew I played better when I was able to slow down and focus. So I kept my overall handicap with casual rounds included. I had no idea what people thought or were saying until my friend told me. Now after learning this I only keep a league or tournament and sign up with that. Low and behold it is almost 5 strokes better then the normal casual round included handicap. player X might be like me. Unless you catch them, dont call someone a sandbagger, I almost quit playing when someone called me one and I had no idea. Either nut up and call him a cheater or prove your case. Do not tip toe around it and talk behind his back. He may not know like me, or calling him out might fix the problem.
 

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I know for me personally, I am a slow player. So with that said, in casual rounds I will rush shots, move faster and not focus as much to worry about pace of play. In tournament golf where everyone is moving more my natural speed of play and there is more time to think and focus, I shoot easily 4 to 5 strokes better than in a casual round. After a while of being labeled a sandbagger and not knowing what anyone was saying behind my back, a buddy drank enough one day to call me a cheater. I was floored to say the least! I just knew I played better when I was able to slow down and focus. So I kept my overall handicap with casual rounds included. I had no idea what people thought or were saying until my friend told me. Now after learning this I only keep a league or tournament and sign up with that. Low and behold it is almost 5 strokes better then the normal casual round included handicap. player X might be like me. Unless you catch them, dont call someone a sandbagger, I almost quit playing when someone called me one and I had no idea. Either nut up and call him a cheater or prove your case. Do not tip toe around it and talk behind his back. He may not know like me, or calling him out might fix the problem.
This is one reason why I wish Tournament scores would count more towards the handicap. It would help to prevent any potential sandbagging and would also give a more accurate handicap for tournaments. Some people like yourself focus more and play better while others are the opposite and get nervous and play worse than their usual.
 

KEV

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I have a real issue with sandbaggers and wouldn't even consider bringing him. I'd tell the President what my view is and why I wouldn't consider it. It comes down to integrity for me and I wouldn't want to be attached to the guy at all.
 

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This is an interesting discussion. I've only been playing golf for a little over 2 years now and I don't have an official handicap. Most of the time I don't even keep score. I know what every hole is for par and I keep a mental count of pars and the rare birdies, so I have some idea what my cap is. I will say that I used to play cash and tournament 9 ball and 8 ball, all over the Midwest when I was a younger man and we had zero problem rating players on "known ability" when they would try and sandbag into a handicapped tournament at a lower rating. Some guys got upset when we did this to them but it didn't matter to us.
Another person already brought this up and I will agree that some players (in any sport) are just gamers. Their focus narrows when there's money on the line. I'm one of those types. Whether it's shooting baskets, pool, playing poker or pitching quarters at a wall, I'm a different competitor when there's money on the line. This guy could be like that.
 

Joshnoble01

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@Raiderboost: How does X sandbag? Firstly, I am going to put the following link: https://golf.com/instruction/rules/sandbagging-golf-inflate-handicap/
Why are any of these sandbagging? 1, 2, and 5 are just the rules.

RE 6: I don't think you can improve if you are constantly switching clubs and aren't playing the same ones. Even if you are playiing the wrong specs you will have a consistent swing. If you constantly play different clubs you can't have a repeatable swing. It kind of like playing cheap or good balls. Doesn't really matter as long as it is the same.

8, 9,10 and 11 aren't sandbagging. They just prevent you from getting better. Ultimately that is also going to work itself out in the long run. You will be more inconsistent and not help you sandbag ultimately.

I could see 3 being an issue if you aren't posting all your rounds and only post subpar rounds. Same with 4. If you only post rounds where you don't warm up it is an issue. 7 is just part of playing golf. Again as long as you post everything it should even itself out.

Out of these 11 only ones that potentially are sandbagging are 3, 4 and 7. At least in my opinion.
 

Snowman

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Why are any of these sandbagging? 1, 2, and 5 are just the rules.

RE 6: I don't think you can improve if you are constantly switching clubs and aren't playing the same ones. Even if you are playiing the wrong specs you will have a consistent swing. If you constantly play different clubs you can't have a repeatable swing. It kind of like playing cheap or good balls. Doesn't really matter as long as it is the same.

8, 9,10 and 11 aren't sandbagging. They just prevent you from getting better. Ultimately that is also going to work itself out in the long run. You will be more inconsistent and not help you sandbag ultimately.

I could see 3 being an issue if you aren't posting all your rounds and only post subpar rounds. Same with 4. If you only post rounds where you don't warm up it is an issue. 7 is just part of playing golf. Again as long as you post everything it should even itself out.

Out of these 11 only ones that potentially are sandbagging are 3, 4 and 7. At least in my opinion.
The most frequent form of sandbagging I see is guys who are selective about what rounds they post. Guys who will faithfully record all their rounds in the 80s, but the rounds in the 70s never seem to get posted. Pretty easy to spot if you play with them regularly.

The opposite is the vanity 'capper who will post all their low rounds and not post their high rounds - but the only person they're hurting is themselves, especially if they ever play in any format where handicaps are used. Sure, it's great bragging rights to sit around the clubhouse and tell people you're a 7 when you're really a 14 or 15, but you're gonna get smoked in competition when you're giving up 7 strokes to a legit 14.
 

wubears71

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I’m so over competitive golf for guys like this.
 

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