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Level II

Do Golf Handicaps Always Level the Playing Field? ( US 2018 131 )

Level: Intermediate
David Trindade, Founder and Owner, Stat-Tech; and Instructor, Santa Clara University

Golf handicapping is meant to “level the playing field” and allow players of different abilities to compete equally in tournaments. Each golfer has a handicap based on a formula using the 10 best scores in the most recent 20 rounds. In competition, the handicap is subtracted from a golfer’s gross score to determine the net score. The lowest net scores are the winning scores. From a statistical viewpoint, is the handicapping system fair and performing as expected? One analysis approach is to compare graphs of the gross and net scores versus handicaps. Gross scores are expected to increase with handicaps, but net scores should be reasonably comparable across handicaps. For this talk, we use the analytical and visualizing capabilities of JMP to investigate the relationship between gross and net scores versus handicaps for several different tournaments run at a private country club. In the process, we uncover several interesting scoring differences for tournaments among men, women and seniors. We illustrate using JMP software's Fit Y by X, Distributions, Graph Builder, Outlier Screening and By variable formula functions. An “Aha!” moment occurs when we discover that the handicapping system for a certain tournament type resulted in outcomes not indicative of a level playing field.