How do you get from Jack Nicholson to Equitable Stroke Control? I'm not sure, but reader Tim Fulton of Davie, Florida managed to do it and ask a good question at the same time:
The recent interview with Jack Nicholson was wonderful. It showed him to be the marvelous character in real life that he has portrayed so often in his career. His private rules for golf, which he "doesn't always observe but uses for amusement", are fun and all us weekend hackers understand the reason for them. I was appalled, but not surprised, when you listed him as tied for #47 on Hollywoods top 100. In the very page before he admits to taking liberty with the rules of golf and yet you recognize his handicap. The reason I wasn't surprised is because the current USGA handicap system, as defined by the "Dean Knuth baloney of golf", is nothing more than a license to cheat with their Equitable Stroke Control system....
Equitable Stroke Control, most of you know, limits the score you can record for handicap purposes on any given hole:
0-9 Course Handicap has a max score of double bogey.
10-19 has a max score of 7 on any hole
20-29 max of 8
Tim isn't buying. And raises an interesting point:
Potential does not always mean good; a person has the potential to do bad also.... Are so called blow-up holes not part of the game? Everybody has them on occasion. If we follow that false logic, shouldn't "exceptional" holes also be adjusted? Eagles and hole in ones are in essence blow-up holes and shoul d be adjusted upward.....
The ESC system is merely a veiled attempt to satisfy the egos of those golfers who think that they are better than they really are.
Tim goes on but I thought it was time to check in, in fairness, with the aforementioned Knuth:
The USGA Handicap System is designed to determine a golfer's "potential" ability, not his average ability. That is why the best 10 of 20 differentials (Scores) are used, instead of averaging the scores. If a golfer has an extremely bad hole, that hole score could cause the overall score of the round to not reflect a player's real potential. That is why ESC is used as a cap on the occasional very high score.
Many golfers have negative potential, but over the 100-year history of the USGA Handicap System, it has always been focused on positive potential. More so in the early days. The first formula (Leighton Calkins) was to base handicaps on the average of your best three scores of the year. It could only go down. Then it was the average of the best ten of your last 50 rounds, until eventually it got to the current formula.
(Photo: Nigel Parry)