Editors' BlogJuly 17, 2009

Can a 4-handicap man beat an LPGA pro?

In her August "Ask Stina" column, Senior Editor Stina Sternberg responded to the question of whether a 4-handicap male player could outplay an LPGA pro. A reader had a friend who thought he could. Stina called the man "delusional." "As a 4-handicapper, he'd get so badly beaten by any of the LPGA's 152 players (even those with nonexempt status) that he'd have a tough time getting back up." The question, and Stina's response, generated a lot of (mostly male) mail.

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Dear Stina,>

I am glad the viewer listed a 4-handicapper in the question because if you go to a 2-handicapper and provide him with the conditions the ladies play on he will be a scratch or better. I would take him over two-thirds of the field at most ladies tournaments, maybe more if played from the tips. Consider: Watered-down bunkers pristinely raked; rolled greens that are fast and smooth (most good golfers prefer fast greens, but the course can't keep greens alive cut that low all the time). Most good courses have bunkers in front of all par 5s and I don't see that at many women's venues. I will probably go to the Women's U.S. Open at Pinehurst for one day just to see where the ladies play from. I have played that course several times. It can be a challenge if the greens are hard and fast and the tees are back. I've posted a 74 and a few 76's from the men's tees.

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Brad

by email

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Dear Stina,>

Good day. A previous writer said his 4-handicap friend believed he (hitting the ball 300 yards plus) could beat the average LPGA tour pro on 18 holes. I believe it would depend greatly on the course. If course conditions are like those at Congressional or Oakmont for a PGA Tour event I may give the edge to the big hitter. First, because the big hitter can spin the ball and hold the greens and the closer you are to the green the better off you are on such courses. In addition, courses with par 3s in excess of 240 yards (Congressional #2) will not help the average LPGA member as I do not believe they have a club that would hold those greens.

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Now, for the dose of reality to the amateur. Amateurs in golf lack the mental aspect (unless they have played a professional sport like Tony Romo or John Elway) and when confronted with playing with a pro would perform in ways foreign to them because of being nervous. Now if I could take Mr. Romo (2) or Elway (1) in the same bet it would be a no brain-er for me as they should triumph given their abilities to perform under pressure and their physical prowess in given situations.

I do agree with you about the percentages in driving, etc., but I also submit that a course set up to PGA Tour standards would also not benefit the average (not the best) LPGA tour pro as it would be tougher than a Women's U.S. Open.

Let me know the time and place this takes place and I will bring my wallet depending on: the course, setup, and who is playing as well as their sports resume.

Cheers,

Roger Wiskavitch

by email

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Dear Stina, >

Not only are you spot on about a 4-handicap player getting waxed by any LPGA pro, but I would say the top AJGA junior girl would kill the guy as well. I have played squash at a very high level for most of my adult life and have played against the top women squash players and when younger, I could kind of hold my own. But I lost to most of them. And squash is a fairly minor unknown game. Guys don't get it: Venus Williams, Dinara Safina would kill all but the top men's college players in tennis. The top women softball pitchers would routinely strike out all but the best men baseball players. I could go on. I am a 8-handicap golfer who took up the game at age 38 and what I have seen is it would take a country club player with at least a +2 to even stand a chance and then not much of one. Being a father of three daughters who all played competetive sports I have seen it. Give me the name of the number 100-ranked LPGA player and I would bet paychecks on her against a 4 on ANY course.

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Fred Duboc

by email

__Dear Stina, I want to comment on your recent column in Golf Digest discussing the 4-handicapper that thinks he can beat most LPGA players. Clearly this guy is out of touch. The women of the LPGA, Duramed and college ranks are real athletes' many of whom maintain a workout schedule equal to that of the best athletes' in the world regardless of sport or gender. All one needs to do is watch the re-runs of Big Break to see some great women golfers. Kim Welsh and Gerina Mendoza both drive the ball around 300 yards consistently. I'm a 6-handicap and I would never think to play any plus 3 handicapper even-up on any course regardless of length. The big issue here isn't length or gender. These women are just plain better golfers than a 4- or 6-handicapper. Guys like "Mister 4-handicap" give the rest of us(men) a bad name. Matthew Geier>

Saint Charles, Ill __

Let's set aside the talent level for a moment. Nerves would do the man in. A couple days after our U.S. Open Challenge amateur winner, Larry Giebelhausen, shot 101 at Bethpage, we played at another Long Island course. Granted, the set-up was nowhere near as difficult, but it was not an easy golf course. Larry shot even par on the front nine, three or four over on the back. It was not his talent, but rather the pressurized situation at the Challenge, the fact that he was totally out of his element, that had been the issue at Bethpage. And it would be, too, for our 4-handicapper against the LPGA players

But it would be fun to see, wouldn't it?

--Bob Carney

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