W. A. Patón
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (EMERITUS)
IN ALL MY YEARS-NOTES ON HANDICAPPING
Some months back, while attending an afternoon gathering, I happened to be chatting with three friends when the conversation turned to golf, and one of the group told of a notable victory he had recently achieved—by one stroke—in a match at the "club" with an opponent he'd never beaten before. The narrator, a man of about 65, and no athlete, was obviously elated over his victory, and there was a touch of bragging in his tone. I was surprised when he named his victim, an old student of mine, who played in the low 70's as a member of the varsity team in his college days and is still a very fine golfer. I expressed my astonishment and then came the moment of truth. The "winner" admitted that in the handicapping for this match he was allowed a margin of 20 strokes. In other words, he won by a scare of 98 to the 79 taken by his opponent. I moved away from the group at that point for fear of saying something that would sound a bit nasty. I might add that my boasting friend was an execu-tive with a large corporation for many years, and I don't believe he has ever been accused of an anticapitalist point of view.
A few weeks after this incident I was having dinner at the home of a couple who are among my best friends. The man of the house has been an ardent golfer, from school days on, is still much in-terested in the sport, and often follows what is going on in a major professional tournament by way of the T.V. There was another guest present, another long-time and good friend, who likes golf, and also is addicted to keeping in touch with tournament news. After dinner we men spent some time watching a showing on T.V. of the later stages of some matches between leading pros in a tournament re-cently concluded. I was reminded of my experience in listening to the account of how an inferior player scored a "win" over an ex-cellent player, by taking only 19 strokes more than his rival, and after the T.V. was turned off I told the story to my two golfing friends of the dinner party.
Somewhat to my surprise both men supported vigorously the pre-vailing handicapping practice in the amateur game. Without this system, they both insisted, there could be no genuine competition