No secret to finding your own Greatest handicap

With Greatest Golfer 6.0 rapidly approaching, I wanted to quickly touch on a topic that we (Greatest “Committee Members”) have been discussing quite a bit behind the scenes — handicaps.

Handicapping a tournament is always a difficult task. For starters, not everyone has the same type of handicap. The USGA GHIN system is the preferred handicapping system. But with an “inclusive” mindset, the Greatest accepts handicaps from leagues and from non-USGA affiliated clubs. That approach has helped it grow to 320 players each of the last two last years.

Another issue with handicaps is the fact that they are ever-changing. A 9 handicap today can easily have a few bad rounds and be a 10 by the start of the tournament. One shot’s not that big of a deal right? Except in this case, where it would change the tournament flight for this particular golfer.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked: “Should I play in the lower flight where I don’t really have a chance? Or should I be one of the lower handicapped players in the next flight up?”

You know what the right answer is: “Turn in your real scores throughout the summer and play in whichever flight your handicap says you should be in.” And most of the time that’s the way it works out.

Last year, however Greatest had an issue that’s led to increased discussions this summer on how to assure players are in the correct flight.

Maybe the answer is (and I’m just brainstorming on paper here) The Vindicator changes the handicap brackets each year and doesn’t release the breakdowns until player registration ends. I think everyone knowing the difference between a 9 handicap being in one flight and a 10 handicap being in another is part of the problem.

Maybe the answer is everyone HAS to have a USGA GHIN handicap?

Maybe the answer is mid-tournament flight changes based on unrealistic results?

To be honest, I really don’t know what the “tournament committee” answer is.

What I do know, however, is that this tournament was designed to be the Valley’s premier amateur golf event. And it has succeeded at that because of the number and quality of golfers who participate.

And I think that’s where the real solution comes from.

Golf has always been a sport of honor.

So while the Greatest team brainstorms ways to improve the tournament each year, let’s not forget that “we” the golfers are the ones who sign ourselves up.

And “we” the golfers are the ones who know more than anyone which flights we should be in.

Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at

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