World Amateur in Myrtle Beach: Where are the sandbaggers?
Some professional athletes cheat with steroids, amateur golfers sandbag.
The World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach is notorious for “sandbaggers". I’ve been analyzing some scores, online at the World Am website and also at the 19th hole. I’ve been talking to participants from various flights, getting their opinion on whether their particular flight is tainted with these scoundrels.
The general consensus seems to be the higher the flight, the higher the sandbagger infestation.
This makes sense. The higher you say your handicap is, the easier it is to score better than expected. For instance, WorldGolf.com’s resident duffer Chris Baldwin could say he is a 50-handicap, so when he posts a dream round of 120 (lift, clean and place in effect), he actually shoots under his net par.
The lower flights, featuring scratch-10 handicaps all have believable net medalist scores to date (67-69). The higher divisions are comical, mostly in the low 60s. How about Tom Ochs from Michigan’s net 58 in round one to lead group 19?
Scoring well below net par puts them in position to win not only their flight but possibly the overall competition - but I don’t think many of the single-digit handicappers really care about a 22-handicapper posting an 83 somehow (ahem, Tom Butcher).
Winning a golf tournament with a 20-plus handicap is sort of like winning Miss Congeniality in a beauty pageant - or getting your picture taken with a hot waitress then putting it on MySpace calling her your latest conquest.
Decent golfers should only take a 20-handicap seriously if they have a disability of some kind or are over 65 years old. There is some justice at this event though. Suspiciously low scores cause the players’ handicaps to be “adjusted” closer to what is suspected their actual ability is. These players are also given an embarrassing “ADJ” next to their name on the score sheet - like how Castro brands the forearm of political prisoners in Cuba.
It’s an imperfect system of course, but a necessary one when you have nearly 4,000 competitors here - to some of whom winning this event would be the pinnacle of their sporting lives.
That’s why there are flights, of course. And I am happy to report my flight, Flight 4 (9.0-10.5), doesn’t seem to have any major signs of sandbagging at the halfway point. The Round one low was a 79 (net 67) at Diamondback, which really isn’t that hard of a course. Today’s medalist had a 78 (net 67) at Sandpiper Bay. Before you think this score might be fishy, consider this same player shot a brutal 91 yesterday. Rumor has it he was so angry about his pathetic excuse for course management that saw four 7s and an 8, that after banging two buckets of balls at Myrtlewood, he went to the 19th hole World Am Headquarters and cried in free beer and pizza for two hours, refusing to hit on all the cute Coastal Carolina students working the main floor. Afterwards, he fell asleep on his couch watching the Detroit Tigers steamroll the Yankees. It brightened his spirits mildly, but he was still too depressed to file a nightly blog. He awoke in the morning with a mild neck sprain but a refocused mindset and a laser-sharp pitching wedge.
The majority of golfers in my flight are actually way over their handicap, some incredibly so. 10-handicapper Jeff Ransom shot a 114 and a 105 (what’s his home course, Pirate’s Cove?).
So it’s safe to say Flights 1-4 are void of sandbaggers to this point, unless the veteran cheats wait until the last round to go low (there is someone from Las Vegas in 4th - I don’t trust him). Whatever ensues, I’m looking forward to Rounds 3 and 4 at the Barefoot Dye and Nicklaus’ Pawleys Plantation - two of the Grand Strand’s toughest courses (with better greens than we’ve seen so far) that should separate the posers from the players.
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You do realize that you've now opened the door for Ron Mon to give us his own scores ad nauseum though. Which means more nauseous readers.