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Handicapping by Jim Cowan F

Catching Sandbaggers: One Online Seminar at a Time

or decades, the NCGA has been the leader when it comes to tournaments for the masses. Whereas most state and regional

golf associations reserve their cham- pionship offerings for elite golfers only (gross events played at “scratch”), the NCGA has long embraced the concept of bringing a championship experience to golfers of all abilities. If you have ever teed it up in our Zone or Associate Club Championship, to name just two of 16 NCGA events that include a net component, you have benefited from this open-mind- edness and can attest to the profes- sionalism of the conduct of the events. Whenever you run a net event,

however, you run the risk of sandbag- ging casting its ugly shadow over the proceedings. In 2002, the NCGA decided to

combat this scourge head-on through education. Each NCGA club was required to complete an “A-to-Z”

course on handicapping, with special emphasis placed on penalty options at the disposal of clubs. The thought was to teach clubs how to bring their own “trouble” golfers to justice before they could plague our tournaments. The plan was met with skepticism, but for the most part, clubs enjoyed the mandatory six-plus hour seminars. Better yet, many started fighting back against those who would rob their tournaments blind. From humble beginnings come great


Little did we know it at the time, but the USGA was observing the success of California’s programs to such an extent that they decided to go national with the concept. Today, by USGA mandate, every club in the country is required to complete an approved curriculum on handicapping every four-year “cycle” of the USGA Handicap System. The current cycle ends this Dec. 31, meaning all


What are the Odds? BY PAUL DEMARK

NCGA clubs have until the end of the year to satisfy the requirement. Clubs that do not will have their handicap service suspended at the start of 2016. But fear not. Rather than conducting a hand-

ful of half-day “live” seminars across the region in the remaining months of 2015, we will rely exclusively on our online Handicap Certification seminar to achieve compliance. The seminar content has been edited for time, and updated to include the very latest features developed by GHIN to search and destroy sandbaggers. The offering consists of 18 sections (or holes), ranging from just a few minutes to complete, to a half hour or more. From start to finish, the content consumes around five hours, but one need not complete it in a single sitting. On the contrary, users can choose to come and go at their leisure, and knock it out over the course of several days or weeks.

On that magical August day, Mandell was playing in a foursome

The story of how a 7-handicapper legitimately set a course-record 12-under 60 at Fortuna’s Redwood Empire Golf Course in Humboldt County

he feat was so stunning all Rob Mandell could do was scream. Mandell had just sunk a 5-foot putt on the 18th hole to shoot a 12-under-par 60 at Redwood Empire GCC in Fortuna, setting a new course record in August of 2011.

“When that putt went in, I lifted up my arms and let out a blood-

curdling scream, like a Viking,” recalled Mandell, 50, nearly four years after it happened. “I knew I had shot 60 and broke the course record. How was it even possible that I could do that?” What was so extraordinary about Mandell’s score is the fact that

he was a 7.1 index, a 7-course handicap, at the time. Redwood Empire measures 6,162 yards from the tips, with a 69.9 rating and 127 slope. Mandell had shot 70 at the course several times before, and had been as low as a 5-course handicap.

of friends, competing in a $5 Nassau. All three of his fellow golfers had been members of the course for at least 25 years, and had scored in the 60s at the course. They included his partner Chuck Schager, and oppo- nents John Henry and Don Nolan II, a near-scratch player who had won the Redwood Empire club championship three times. After parring the first hole and birdieing the par-3 second, Mandell’s

round started to get interesting on the par-5 third hole. Forty yards out after his second shot, he dunked his pitch shot in for an eagle. He then chipped in for birdie on the par-4 fourth to go 4 under after four holes. Mandell asked Nolan, “How do I keep this going?” Nolan, who had shot 64 three times at Redwood Empire, said, “Don’t. Just keep hitting shots.”

Mandell did that, nabbing birdies on Nos. 6-9 to finish with an

8-under 28. “That’s when the panic set in,” Mandell said. “I went into the pro

shop and told assistant pro Brian Rasmussen, ‘I just shot 8 under on the front nine. What do I do?’ He gave me a dumbfounded look and said, ‘Stay aggressive.’ ”

68 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2015

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