Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 6 - Rain Out

Yesterday we had our first rain out, which tends to happen in the summer.  Course conditions at the time we cancelled were "cart path only," which indicates there was a lot of standing water.  Westchase is one of the worst draining courses in the area.

While the decision to cancel the week inconvenienced at least one team, 9 of the 11 responses from the league were to take the week off (which includes Bito who flip-flopped and decided to go to the pub all day).

But it's OK, shit happens. Since E-Flo and Buchanan made us push the playoffs to August, we still have the original playoff date open.  I've moved the match-ups from yesterday to July 24th.  I think E-Flo and Buchanan are out this day due to SCUBA lessons... so we might play on Saturday the 23rd instead.  Let me know if any of those dates are an issue for you.

Next weekend we have off due to the Fourth of July holiday.  So you have plenty of time to hit the range or take a break to forget all your bad habits.

In other news, four of us hit up Waterlefe last Friday for $25.  The course was awesome and definitely worth the drive to Bradenton.  I highly recommend it, but bring a lot of balls because there is water on every hole.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Course Difficulty

I've somewhat half-ass explained how the USGA calculates handicaps, but what about course difficulty?  Usually golfers just look at the yardage to determine what tees to play from.  Good golfers don't mind 6,700+ yards, while high handicappers prefer to stick around 6,200.  But that's not really the best way to go about it.

Course difficulty is determined by Rating and Slope.  Both numbers are found on the scorecard, and vary depending on which tees you play.

Rating is usually between 67 and 77.  This number is tells you what a "good score" is for a scratch golfer (someone with a handicap index of 0.0).  This Sunday we're playing at Westchase, which has a rating of 69.2 for the white tees.  So a scratch golfer would have a good round if they shot 69 (3 under).

But most people aren't scratch golfers.  In fact... the average amateur golfer shoots about 100 (yes, it's true).  The average official handicap for amateur golfers, however, is only 15.2 (mine has ballooned up to a 15 over the past few weeks).  The discrepancy between those two numbers exists because golfers who keep an official handicap tend to be able to shoot in the low 90's.

So it's kinda bullshit for someone with a 15 handicap to look at a number designed for a 0 handicap. That's where slope comes in.

Slope tells you the difficulty of a course for "bogey golfers" (people with a handicap of about 20).  The term "slope" references the actual mathematical slope of a line in a geometric graph.  The harder the course, the higher a bogey golfer's score will be ABOVE what their handicap index predicts.

Slope is a number between 55 (easiest) and 155 (hardest).  The average course difficulty is considered 113.  Let's compare some slopes (courses on our schedule are in bold):
  • Reunion Nicklaus Course (Gold Tees) - 147
  • Waterlefe (Back Tees) - 141
  • Southern Hills (Black Tees - where I just played a tournament) - 138
  • Augusta National (Masters Tees) - 137 (unofficial, as Augusta has never allowed anyone to come in and conduct a ratings test)
  • Bloomingdale (Green Tees) - 127
  • Dunedin County Club (White Tees) - 125
  • Westchase (White Tees) - 123
  • Pebble Creek (White Tees) - 122
  • Heritage Harbor (Blue Tees) - 117
  • Eagles Forrest Course (White Tees) - 116
So for those of you going with me to the Jamie E. tournament at the Reunion Resort... you haven't seen anything until we hit the Nicklaus Course.  I still get nightmares from the tips on #2, which I've had to hit from the last two years.

Anyway... if you're a high handicapper like me... look at the slope on the scorecard.  If it's below 120,  you should be in for an easy round.  If it's above 128... start drinking.

#2 at the Nicklaus Course

Monday, June 20, 2011

Handicaps and Match-Ups

We have some things to determine over the next few weeks.  Let's start with the easiest issue.

Bito/Gomez would like an opportunity to actually play against Robb/Ryan.  So I tweaked week 8 to give them that match-up.  In doing so, Frank/Steve now play the Asians in a rematch of week 4, but without Bobby dropping nukes on them.  I think this change actually makes the schedule better, giving E-Flo/Cong a chance to go up against the normal Frank Squad (assuming everyone can play that week).


Next is the handicap issue of Frank/Bobby vs. Reid/Geoff in week 7.  Here's the data we have:
  1. On the same course (Bloomingdale), on the same day, from the same tees... Frank/Bobby shot 67 while Reid/Geoff shot 89.  That's a difference of 22 strokes.
  2. If I take Frank/Steve's actual handicap data... and plug in a round of 67 at Bloomingdale... it drops them to 5.6, which is a difference of 8 strokes from Reid/Geoff's HCP.
  3. Frank/Bobby's gross average is 67 (one round of data) whereas Reid/Geoff's is 83 (five rounds of data), a difference of 16 strokes.
#1 is probably too many strokes since it's based on only one round.  #2 is probably too few since it's using a bunch of data for Frank/Steve with only one round of Frank/Bobby.  #3 is just a more accurate version of #1.

So I really don't know.  We can revisit it after we get one more weeks worth of data.  If I had to go on my "gut feeling," I'd say an accurate number of strokes would be about 11.  That way if Frank/Bobby shoot par, Reid/Geoff would tie with their average of 83.  And if Frank/Bobby go under par again, it forces Ebony and Ivory to go under their average.

But like I said... it's just a guess at this point.  So discuss, and try to get up to 70 comments this time.

    Week 5 Recap

    E-Flo/Cong vs. Reid/Geoff - Ebony and Ivory knew they needed to finally go low for an easy victory.  The Great Wall of Philipnam was already weary of their 4-stroke handicap, despite having a 6-stroke lead in gross average.  But neither team expected to suck to the tune of 82 and 85.  The Asians were somewhat consistent, carding zero birdies, 8 bogeys and one double.  Oreo Cookie, on the other hand, were all over the map.  Three birdies for them is impressive... but only three pars?  Neither of these teams' handicaps lowered after this week, which tells us two things: 1) they played bad and 2) we're getting close to having some solid handicaps set.  Regardless, it's never good when a team has to double-bogey #18 while watching their opponents bogey the same hole just to lose by one. Albeit, it probably was exciting.  Final score: Reid/Geoff win 81-82 (net).

    Justin/Chandler vs. Frank/Steve - Once again, we have two teams going in the opposite direction.  Before the match started, it appeared Justin/Chandler just needed to keep pace with Steve (who is a very talented golfer) to have a shot at victory.  But nobody expected Frank to play lights-out hype-diggity.  The few times Steve was in trouble, Frank would be in the fairway.  On an early par 3 when Steve was over the green, Frank stuck it 8 feet from the cup.  And later on #15, Frank vaporized a 3-wood 10 feet from the pin AND made the putt to give his team the first eagle in the league.  Justin/Chandler want to blame their loss on two inexcusable double-bogeys... but that wouldn't be an accurate conclusion.  Frank/Steve won because they had only one bogey on the day, and finished with a 3-under 69.  Not many people will beat that if they keep improving.  Final score: Frank/Steve win 68-77 (net).


    So we have three weeks left, and every team is still in the playoff hunt.  It looks like we won't need subs at Westchase this Sunday, something that hasn't happened since week 1.  I'm still awaiting official confirmation from World Woods on our playoff weekend.  Their event person is a bit... aloof.

    Anyway, below is a chart of the handicaps over time:

    This tells me a few things:
    1. Handicaps were pretty much right-sized by week 3.
    2. We were a bit off on Robb/Buchanan, but dead-on with Bito/Gomez.
    3. Justin/Chandler and E-Flo/Cong's initial handicap were very accurate in relation to each other.
    4. The movement you see in Frank/Steve is due to a) Steve missing a bunch of matches and b) Frank getting much better at golf each week.  The 69 they shot yesterday was quite impressive.
    5. Reid/Geoff are lagging behind the pack.
    It should be an interesting finish to the season.  Watch out for the Game of the Week on Sunday, when the top two teams (who have the exact same gross average) go head-to-head with only a one stroke adjustment.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    How I'm (Stupidly) Spending My Saturday Morning

    This is one of those things that I said "yes" to, but immediately started regretting.  As an early Father's Day outing, my dad asked if I would play in a golf tournament at Southern Hills.  He's a member up there so we've played the course countless times and have even entered and won (at least finished in the money) a few handicapped tournaments.  It's a beautiful track... but very tedious, long and can give you a headache on most days.  Whatever... always good to spend time with pops.

    Not so fast...
    1. It's at 9:30am so we're leaving at 7:15am.  I'm one of the worst morning people on the planet (other than my girlfriend).
    2. It's a full handicapped 2-man Best Ball format.  People always confuse "best ball" with "scramble." I don't blame them because the names aren't intuitive... but "scramble" is what we play in DPT Golf.  Everyone hits, you pick the best shot and hit from there.  "Best ball" is really "best score."  Everyone plays their own ball... you put the lowest score on the card.  So I'll actually have my own personal score for the round.
    3. It's from the tips.
    So issue #3 shouldn't really be a big deal, until you realize that Southern Hills is 7,557 yards with elevations from 60-250 feet. Whenever I play there I always laugh at how far back (and down) the tips are from the blue tees. So how long is 7,557 yards? Let's look at a handful of the most famous courses on the PGA Tour this year:

    Congressional County Club (US Open) - 7,574
    Atlanta Athletic Club (PGA Championship) - 7,467
    Augusta National (The Masters) - 7,435
    Firestone CC - 7,400
    Bay Hill - 7,381
    Innisbrook (Copperhead, here in Tampa) - 7,340
    TPC Doral (Blue Monster) - 7,266
    TPC Scottsdale - 7,216
    TPC Sawgrass - 7,215
    Royal St. George (British Open) - 7,106
    Pebble Beach - 6,816

    So of that list, which includes all four Majors this year, only the US Open (being played this weekend) is longer. And yes, I realize "longer" does not always mean "harder."  The slope tells you the difficulty of a course, and I'll post about that next time.  But "longer" is an issue for me since I've developed the yips over the past few weeks and can't hit a drive more than 150 yards.

    Here are some course highlights:
    #3 - Par 3 - 238 yards - Massive green with crazy ridges in it.  Anywhere you land is 4-putt zone.
    #6 - Par 4 - 478 yards - Tee shot is all up-hill. I rarely get there in two from the blues.
    #7 - Par 5 - 618 yards - Tee shot is probably uphill 75 feet.  Second shot goes downhill over 100 feet.
    #11 - Par 4 - 491 yards - Probably a 200 yard carry over a hazard and tee boxes to find the fairway. No way I finish this hole.
    #14 - Par 4 - 507 yards - Now this is just stupid.
    #18 - Par 4 - 481 yards - Tiny elevated green which is impossible to hit with the 3-wood I'll be using on my 3rd shot.

    So anyway, there is no "max" per hole in this tournament.  I might have to pick up a few times, but we'll see.  Start taking bets now on what I shoot.  I'm also pretty sure I can get anyone from DPT up there for $35 this summer.  We don't have to play the tips, so just let me know.

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Week 5 - Preview

      Second half the season starts now!

      E-Flo/Cong vs. Reid/Geoff - Ebony and Ivory under-perform every week.  Their scoring average is 6 strokes worse than the Asians, but they're only getting 4 strokes in Dunedin.  On paper you'd favor the Slanties based on that statistic. But Oreo Cookie has to shoot close to 74 eventually.  And if that happens, there's no way our engineering friends can pull off a victory.  Prediction: Reid/Geoff win 71-75 (net).

      Frank/Steve vs. Justin/Chandler - Justin/Chandler under-perform every week as well.  In fact, with recent scores together of 74, 77, 78... they're technically getting worse.  Chandler's AND Justin's drivers imploded over the past three weeks, giving them a huge disadvantage on a course they've never seen.  Meanwhile, Frank has new found confidence after watching his substitute put on a clinic last week.  So... playing on Steve's home course and giving one stroke to Scooby Snacks? Doesn't look good for JC.  Prediction: Frank/Steve win 76-77 (net).

      Bito/Gomez vs. Robb/Ryan - Apparently everyone from this match can't play on Sunday.  Except maybe Gomez, who didn't really report back and is only rumored to have told Bito he was out.  Regardless, our first double-forfeit of the season might be costly come playoff time.  Prediction: no.

      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      Dunedin CC Sunday

      "Golf is an exercise in Scottish pointlessness for people who are no longer able to throw telephone poles at each other."

      "We borrowed golf from Scotland, as we borrowed whiskey, not because it is Scottish, because it is good"

      We will be playing at ye historic Dunedin Country Club on Sunday, June 19th, at 10:10 am and 10:19 am. The golf course is located at 1050 palm blvd., Dunedin Florida, 34698. Phone number is 727-733-2134. The fee for ye course is $32 per person plus tax.

      Bring yer whiskey drinkin hat and bloomers, and come to the hometown of such greats as

      "Willie" from the simpsons:

      Fat Bastard:

      And everyone's favorite: Rowdy Roddy Piper

      Now here's to you, here's to me,
      if we disagree, the hell with you, here's to me!

      Below is a link to the course website, and description of each hole.

      See ya at the course!

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      Week 4 Recap

      Frank/Steve vs. E-Flo/Cong - To be a really good golfer, you need to be consistent. Frank's sub (Bobby) is a really good golfer.  He (with some clutch shots by Frankie) destroyed the Asians like Genghis Khan in the 13th century.  Thankfully E-Flo/Cong won't see Bobby again this season, so they don't need to build a giant wall for protection.  The match was actually pretty close after the front nine, with Frank/Bobby at -3 and E-Flo/Cong at even par.  But then it went downhill fast as the Asians took two doubles and a single bogey over the next three holes.  Final score: Frank/Steve win 67-77 (net).

      Justin/Chandler vs. Robb/Ryan - Gorecki had to fill in for Justin this week, so it was determined the match would be played straight-up with an adjustment after every hole.  Chandler finally had some decent iron play, while Slow-and-Steady-Gorecki used his driver on almost every shot (even once out of the sand, I think).  Robb and Buchanan... just wanted the day to be over. Shooting 12-over on #4 through #12 put them in a hole that seemed impossible to climb out of.  A late collapse by Chandler/Gorecki made this game closer than it really was.  Final score: Justin/Chandler win 85-87.

      Bito/Gomez vs. Reid/Geoff - The final match-up should have been pretty close, considering Bito/Gomez were giving 6 strokes to Reid/Geoff.  Nevertheless, Ebony and Ivory had no birdies and only three pars on the day, shooting a horrible 89.  Maybe it was hot?  Maybe they were hungover and tired from the Summer Sizzle.  Whatever the reason... it was ugly.  Bito/Gomez also didn't have any birdies for the first time this season, and shot a lackluster 80 for the victory.  Final score: Bito/Gomez win 80-83 (net).

      Cong brought up a good point that it seemed teams play their best against them.  So let's crunch the numbers.  Through 4 weeks... here are the average opponent's gross score of each team:

      Bito/Gomez - 84.75
      Justin/Chandler - 79.75
      Robb/Buchanan - 80.00
      Frank/Steve - 77.75
      Reid/Geoff - 81.00
      E-Flo/Cong - 71.50 (73.00 if you throw out last week's 67 by Frank and his ringer sub)

      So... he's 100% correct.  I'm not sure why everyone shoots low when they're up against E-Flo/Cong... but you kids need to stop being so racist.

      Thursday, June 9, 2011

      Week 4 - Preview

      Shit's getting crazy! I haven't been watching the NHL finals, but it sounds like our league is headed in that direction.  As in... people biting each other.  I'm excited!

      This week we have two people out:  Steve and Justin.  Frank has replaced Steve with Bobby Flay, who carries a damn good individual handicap of 6 (mine is 13.8 for comparison. Gomez is also a 6).  I've gone the other way, replacing Justin with Gorecki, who carries an individual goofy-handicap of 3.  He's almost gone pro in that category!

      **Note** Tee times were shuffled around due to Bito, once again, having other obligations.  So make sure you know what time you tee off.

      Justin/Chandler vs. Robb/Ryan - Justin/Chandler was going to have to give one stroke to the Sandbaggers... but Gorecki kinda threw a wrench into that.  So we're going to play this match straight-up.  Chandler has been playing like shit lately, while Gorecki hasn't been playing much at all (and is quite lucky to even be allowed out).  Robb is back and ready to pound some drives in the same manner that he pounds... nevermind.  Buchanan is in a slump, but Robb will pull him out of it in the same manner that he pulls out of.... nevermind.  Prediction: Robb/Ryan win 74-80 (gross, net, straight-up, whatever).

      Frank/Steve vs. E-Flo/Cong - This match is hard to predict.  On one hand you have a ringer substitute for Steve, Frank with Smithkey's bag of heroin and E-Flo with a declining golf game.  On the other hand you have Cong back in the line-up, a more than likely chance Frank/Bobby will be hungover and the constant sound of safety patrol whistles all match.  Frank's group has to give the Asians one stroke, so it should be a close match on paper.  But I'm keeping all these stats on the internets, and thus do not use paper.  Prediction: Frank/Steve drop Fat Man on Nagasaki winning 73-79 (net).

      Bito/GoMex vs. Reid/Geoff - Bito/Gomez went low last week, shooting a season record of 72.  So they now have to give 6 strokes to Ebony and Ivory, who are winning despite shooting high scores (84, 78, 77).  Based on that trend I see Team Oreo recording another 77, which forces Bito/Gomez to shoot 70 to get a win.  That's not in my crystal ball.  Prediction: Reid/Geoff win 71-74 (net).

      Tuesday, June 7, 2011

      Playoffs Are Set

      I appreciate all the response from the league.  Everyone (except Cong) responded, and all but Buchanan can play either weekend.  While the majority preferred the July dates... Buchanan couldn't make it.

      Since we're so accommodating, we're going to play August 13th and 14th just so he can be there.

      World Woods!  Get excited.  Two villas, each holding 6 people.  Playing one round on each course.  Both days include lunch and range-time.  $132 total after tax!

      The top four teams will be in the playoffs.  The bottom two teams will play each other for fun and whatever side bets they want to make.  More than likely my team will be in the bottom two so we can get shitty.

      There will also be a 3-week (or so) layoff between the last week of our season and the playoffs.  While at first I wanted to avoid this, it might actually be good to give teams time to get super serious like Geoff and Reid (jk?)

      We can only take 12 people, and no subs are allowed in the playoffs (top 4 teams).  While everyone is allegedly going, Smithkey is the first outsider to express interest so he'll be in if anyone drops out.

      Mark the days on your calendar so you don't double-book yourself.  I'll post up a PayPal link later so you can get me money for the trip, as well as your $10 league fee.  I think we'll use this fee to bring a keg up for our villas (unless you all have a better suggestion).

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      Golf on Sunday

      Hey guys... need some feedback.  The original plan on Sunday was to go play Bloomingdale which is right by Missy's house.  We have to play somewhat early since Reid and Bito have a soccer playoff game to attend at 5pm.  So we can start after 10am for $35.

      OR... Gorecki has reserved us tee times starting at 10:30am at Club Renaissance for $30 (usually $60).  I haven't played there in like 10 years, but it should be a nicer course.  So comment what your preference is.  Thanks.

      We're officially booked at Bloomingdale for $35 + tax.  Tee times are 10:18am, 10:25am, 10:32am.  See you there.

      Oh... I got a $2 off coupon so make sure you get that from me before checking in.


      I think its pretty clear which teams are trying to be as legit as possible about the scoring based on the handicaps given at the begining and where the handicaps are now. A team who thinks they are experienced in the game, one who can call others out for not playing the game correctly should know first hand the value of providing accurate information at the beginning of any tournament. Its easy to misjudge on the course but inexcusible to give a high handicap to start. So before we start pointing fingers we should all know where we stand as a golfer.

      Now, lets drink some beers and shoot some good golf!!!

      Sunday, June 5, 2011

      Week 3 - Recap

      Bito/Gomez vs. E-Flo/Duc - In the first match-up of the day, the Asians kept it in the family with Duc filling in for his brother Cong.  While they may look similar, they do not share the same skills on the course.  The two point handicap was adjusted to four and seemed to be accurate until the 7th hole.  At that time, E-Flo/Duc went: double, double, double, single, single bogey over the next five holes.  Meanwhile, Gomez got hot and Bito steadily contributed on almost every hole.  They can't add, however, as they incorrectly tallied their opponents front-nine score.  But no biggie.  The ass beating was inevitable.  Final score: Bito/Gomez win 72-83 (net).

      Justin/Chandler vs. Reid/Geoff - This match featured four players who have played together all year, but are going in opposite directions.  While Ebony and Ivory are vastly improving their game, Ginger and White Obama are in a horrendous slump.  Justin/Chandler are having trouble finding fairways and greens, and possess what might be the worst short game in the league.  Only Justin's hot putter is keeping them in games.  Reid/Geoff limited their blow-up holes to win straight-up, while dominating based on handicaps.  Final score: Reid/Geoff win 72-78 (net).

      Ryan/Smithkey vs. Frank/Steve - The final group had our first semi-controversy of the season and emphasized the only downfall to our handicap system: substitutes.  With Robb out of town, Buchanan picked up Smithkey as a replacement.  Since all players weren't really familiar with each other, it was initially decided to play straight-up and adjust the handicap at the turn.  Smithkey started out really cold (and really hungover), so with Frank/Steve up six they decided to give four strokes.  Instantly, like a professional hustler, Smithkey went to work and started dominating the match.  Frank/Steve quickly realized they were a bit too generous on the adjustment, and after the match was over a final tweak was made giving them the win.  During a post-round Founder's Meeting, it was decided to just count the match straight-up and implement a new adjustment rule (detailed below).  Final score: Frank/Steve win 76-79 (gross).

      New Adjustment Rule
      It's important to keep flexibility in the league, so we must continue to allow substitute players (except in the tournament).  However, replacements do not help establish accurate handicaps and become quite difficult to determine a fair scoring weight during a round.  The suggested method is to make a guess and re-adjust after the front nine if the scores seem out of whack.  The league doesn't really care what you do... just as long as everyone agrees.

      We don't want anyone to lose a match and feel like they were cheated.  When a team loses... they should feel like they could have won if they didn't play like complete shit.

      Everyone must keep in mind that we all technically suck at golf.  With the exception of GoMex... all league players are high-handicappers and very inconsistent.  Just because a team shoots two under on the front, it doesn't mean they won't go 10 over on the back.  Teams should be very conservative in setting and re-adjusting handicaps when substitute players are involved.  The last match of the day saw Frank/Steve trying to be generous so they wouldn't destroy Ryan/Smithkey.  They wanted to keep the match close to make it more fun, but they failed to consider that they could blow-up on the back nine.

      Starting in week 4, we'll make an official rule about the re-adjustment of handicaps.  When there is a substitute player, both teams can agree on a handicap and then adjust it after the front nine.  But once an agreement is made about that adjustment, it can't be changed.

      Just use common sense out there.  We're all friends so we shouldn't have any problem making agreements.  The handicaps get more accurate with every week.  And we're also starting to see how some of our subs perform.

      Anyway, the course was in good shape and it was a nice day of golf.  Next week we should be playing at Bloomingdale, but I'll send out info on that after I figure out when Bito and Reid's soccer game starts.