Playing Against the Card in 2020

There were many a time last year when someone’s opponent could not make it for one reason or another and people were subject to playing the dreaded card. While some excelled in this environment, many succumbed to the pressure of playing against no one but themselves.

The off season allowed me to do some research in which I looked at every single round played last year (except those by some guy named Scott).  I compared the number of points each person actually scored versus what they would have scored had they played against the card under the existing rules. I then broke it down the results based on the Handicap Index (HCP) the player was for the week of the score. Below are the averages per HCP:

HCP Avg Pts vs Card Avg Actual Points Diff
<9 11 10 1
9 8 9 -1
10 8 9 -1
11 7 8 -1
12 8 10 -2
13 8 11 -3
14 8 9 -1
15 8 9 -1
16 5 7 -2
17 5 8 -3
18 5 9 -4

The stats indicated what you might expect:  the “A” flight, on average, scored more against the card than a live opponent; the mid cappers were slightly below actual points; and the high cappers struggled.

After all the complaining I heard last year about the card, it appears some if it may have been justified. However, you all would probably complain less if you practiced more and maybe took a lesson or two, or three. . .

I came up with a solution and ran it by the executive committee, and they agree with my decision. Although almost half the committee decided to quit the league this year, coincidence?

My goal in adjusting the rules was to not punish a player (or their team) if an opponent was absent. The intent was to make it so every player has a reasonable chance to obtain 9 points against the card. Players with HCP of 8 or less will start with Zero points as usual. Players with HCP of 9-15 start with 1 point and obtain points as usual. Players with HCP of 16+ start with 4 points and obtain points as usual.

I also adjusted the number of strokes people get when playing the card. Players with HCP of 9 will now get 1 stroke where they used to get none. HCP of 10-15 will get the same amount of strokes as they did in the past while those with HCP of 16+ will get a 6th stroke. See below for a breakdown of Points and Strokes:


Eagle 4

Birdie 3

Par 2

Bogey 1

Double Bogey or Worse 0


9 & 10/1  Hole 4

11/2 Holes 4 & 7

12/3 Holes 4, 7 & 2

13/4 Holes 4, 7, 2 & 1

14 & 15/5 Holes 4, 7, 2, 1 & 5

16+/6  Holes 4, 7, 2, 1, 5 & 8

*Points are obtained based on your net score for the hole. For example: if you are getting a stroke on a par 4 and you par the hole, your score is net Birdie so you would get 3 points.

In all cases, points against the card are capped at 18 as that is the most points you can obtain in a regular match.