Tuesday, May 30, 2017


OPINION: Is time up for countbacks to split ties?

Club golfers

Bonnie Doon member John Coomber says the traditional countback system to split ties in club golf has run its race.

Golf is embracing 21st century technology in almost every aspect of the game.
But there is one clunky anachronism with a solution that is staring us in the face - the countback.
Almost every club golfer knows the disappointment of returning a great score and seeing someone else win the competition with the little annotation "cb" - on countback.
It's tough to swallow when you run second to someone who did not in fact beat your score. It's perhaps not so tough to accept the prize when you did not actually win it outright, but wouldn't it be better if we had a system that always produces the most deserving winner?
Countbacks were introduced when there was no other way of determining ties. The rules are quite arcane, resting generally on who has the best score on the back nine holes, then back six, back three, or back one.
The system, an arbitrary solution at best, is ludicrous when applied to two-tee starts. The best back nine might in fact be someone's front nine. In "shotgun" events it might be a bit of both.
The old golfing saw "it ain't how, it's how many" should apply to all competition.
Pros don't lose tournaments because their front nine was better than their back nine on the last day. They have playoffs, or if it's too dark and they can't come back the next day, they share the title (as Peter Lonard and Jarrod Moseley did in the 2002 Australian PGA at Coolum).
Playoffs are of course impractical in daily club competitions.
But technology has given us a much fairer system than countbacks.
Pretty well every club golfer is satisfied that the new centralised handicap system based on the previous 20 competition rounds is much fairer and more accurate than handicaps in the past.
So why not use it fully?
To determine who wins in the event of a tie we only need apply exact handicaps rather than rounded-up ones. The system tells us every player's daily handicap to a tenth of a stroke (and under the Leaderboards tab of your club website to one-hundredth of a stroke).

Here's how it would work:
Example A
Fred is off 18.4 - rounded down to 18.
Bill is off 17.5 - rounded up to 18.
They both have net 68 on a par-72 course. Fred wins because he has beaten his actual handicap by 4.4 strokes,whereas Bill has beaten his by only 3.5 strokes.
It works equally well no matter what the handicap difference:

Example B
Kathy is off 17.2 - rounded down to 17.
Sally is off 35.7 - rounded up to 36.
They both have 40 stableford points. Kathy wins because she has played to 13 and therefore beaten her actual handicap by 4.2 strokes, whereas Sally has played to 32 and therefore beaten hers by only 3.7 strokes.
It's simple and fair. You could even apply it in scratch events. In a tie, the player off the longer handicap is the more deserving winner.

It would take only a minor software tweak to change the system. And if some clubs decided they preferred to stick with countbacks, give them the option of using either system.
Just because we've always used them is no reason to stick with countbacks. They deserve to go the way of hickory, niblicks, featheries, balata and other quaint relics of golf overtaken by superior technology.

For Golf Australia information on Competition Administration and Competition Conditions please visit http://www.golf.org.au/competitionandcourses
This information contains the following
An alternative count-back method is to use exact handicaps. If the conditions of the competition provide that ties are to be decided in this way, they should also provide what will happen if this procedure does not produce a winner.


Posted by patrick at
30/05/2017 04:48 PM
count back for nett is this how it works two players both same nett score take bake nine and deduct half of each players h/cap then still tied take last 6 hloes and 2/3rd of that h/cap still tied take last 3 holes and take 1/3rd of that h/cap still tied last hole and 1/3rd of the 1/3rd? or would you process the comp on golf linc but does golf linc give scores in alphabetical or lowest h/capper first so maybe we need to be able to process the comp and golf linc has a way to determine the winner
Posted by DJ at
30/05/2017 04:05 PM
Why not reward consistent golf by doing a nett pars countback instead of just scores. To the people saying what if the exact hcps don't produce a result that is why he said they go to the hundreth on the computer so can use that. Surely if two are still tied you can then use the old method
Posted by Helen Gilbert at
30/05/2017 03:54 PM
Smaller country clubs do not necessarily have the resources that larger metropolitan clubs have, so i feel the current system should stay
Posted by Peter Yannakis at
30/05/2017 03:51 PM
Makes perfect sense to me ..I fully endorse this change for the better
Posted by Laurel O'Brien at
30/05/2017 03:41 PM
Would like to see this in place, lets move with the times.
Posted by Ron at
30/05/2017 03:19 PM
We always played our Monthly Medal off exact handicaps but were told by Golf Qld "we could not". Also what happens when exact handicaps produce a tie?
Posted by ernst at
30/05/2017 01:56 PM
I like the idea very much indeed. Will introduce it to our local Club.
Posted by Michael Crock at
30/05/2017 01:51 PM
If my back nine matches another for best score, I am happy for the victor having played to the most below their digital handicap awarded
Posted by Alan Beazley at
30/05/2017 01:43 PM
Great thinking John! Losing on a count back can be a bit deflating. Let's use the technology to make the splits.
Posted by Allan Milton at
30/05/2017 01:40 PM
The current system has provision to look back at 9, 6 and3 holes etc to decide a tie. If more than one player beats their handicap by the exact same amount would you revert back to the old system or is there another suggestion? I do like the idea.
Posted by Martin Tobin at
30/05/2017 12:58 PM
Why does everything have to change, & until we have a hcp system that can't be manipulated by the individual, (& every club has them), then why allow it to be easier for the manipulator to win with .1 of his/her Hcp. Stick with the traditional Countback method until a foolproof Hcp System is found/
Posted by Matilda at
30/05/2017 12:55 PM
Mathematically, it favours the lower handicapper based on the handicapping system.
Posted by Graham Voss at
30/05/2017 12:24 PM
Yes and about time ! Like most I have won an event in a countback situation and I seriously felt for the other player. Why should I have collected the trophy/money voucher when the other player was 'clearly' the winner. In the end he received a single golf ball ! Bring it on.
Posted by Gary Daniels at
30/05/2017 11:03 AM
Brilliant - simply brilliant - how was this not thought of before!!!!



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