Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

36

Outlier identification procedure for reduction of handicaps

D.L. Knuth, F.J. Scheid and F.P. Engel

USGA Handicap Research Team, Far Hills, NJ, USA

Abstract

The USGA Handicap Research Team developed a procedure to identify exceptionally low net tournament scores below a threshold of acceptability. The procedure was implemented in the USGA Handicap System in 1991 to automatically reduce the USGA Handicap Index of any player who has returned two or more exceptional net tournament scores (from special competitions designated by the golf club). This Formula was developed using combinatorial theory, the normal model and sampling theory and tested using empirical data. Tournament scores are tracked for a calendar year and two exceptional tournament scores will be applied to re-compute a lower USGA Handicap Index, overriding the usual USGA Handicap Formula which uses the best 10 of the latest 20 scores.

The process has resulted in lowering the handicaps of one-half of one percent of the 3.4 million American golfers with USGA Handicap Indexes. Reports from golf clubs indicate that those players being reduced are often the same players who previously were dominating handicap competitions. The procedure continues to evolve based on research and data analysis.

Keywords: Exceptional Tournament Score, Handicap, Reduction of Handicap, Net Competition.


1 Introduction

The United States Golf Association Handicap Research Team (HRT) has studied the reliability and accuracy of the USGA Handicap System since 1979. Through the introduction of the USGA Course Rating System and the USGA Slope System in 1983, USGA Handicaps have become portable from course-to-course. A remaining problem affecting the reliability of handicaps was that a very small number of golfers would repeatedly score so well in major handicap competitions that it would diminish the enjoyment of the game for the entire field of players. Some of these exceptional performers have been labeled “sandbaggers” or “mug hunters, ” but many times honest golfers naturally play better than normal in major competitions.

The HRT undertook a study to determine methods of identifying outlying low scores. These scores were defined by establishing low occurrence rates (1/200) to identify exceptionally low scores and to adjust the handicaps of identified golfers

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-228-

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