This is a Public Service Announcement for golfers who maintain a "real" USGA handicap. Write down the correct score on each hole you play.
Write down too high a score, and it will catch up with you. You'll be branded a sandbagger or worse.
But this column is about the "other guy", the guy who in an effort to maintain a handicap he thinks he should have records score less than he actually had. Many times it's inadvertent. Doesn't effect outcome of a game. Is purely for ego.
Don't know what I mean?
There's a guy at my club who maintains the same handicap as I do. How then, when we play head to head, do I beat him nearly every time? Not logical, right?
The symptoms start as early as the first tee. He's take a mighty swipe at the ball, hit it sideways, then re-tee a "Breakfast Ball" Okay, but won't take a penalty.
Likewise, somewhere along the round, he'd say he's taking a "Mulligan", again, with no penalty.
Let's say his drive ends up in a dastardly divot. Play it as it lies? Nope, he'll move the ball out because the shot was too good to be in such a precarious position. No penalty.
Around greens he is a good chipper and putter. But nobody is that good. By that I mean, he;ll roll the ball toward the cup and immediately ask, "That's good, right". Now he'd probably make 9-of-10 four footers but that one he'd miss would be another stroke.
Similarly, he'll take a gimme when he misses by six feet if his opponent give him a free pass because he's out of the hole. That's okay for match but not for handicap.
In some leagues gimmes are allowed at the discretion of partners, and surely are allowed in match play situations, but if from a distance one has to record the number that most likely would have been made. So if you have a 15-foot downhill sidehill putt, and it's given for the match, that's fine. But more likely for the scorecard it would be a two-putt. Add a stroke.
Bottom like is that this player is mostly likely cheating himself out of a couple handicap strokes. Don't tell him, because I like beating him the way things are.
Oh, and it doesn't effect handicap, but the guy who hits two balls out of bounds before duffing a chip and says, I had a 7, that's the most I can take. Well, okay. But you are kidding yourself.