Dear Molly

We have an excellent men’s club here at our course in Castle Rock, very well run and managed. A second men’s club was created for off-week events. This secondary club sends out your handicap and flight assignment on Wednesdays, before the tournament on Saturdays. Apparently, handicaps are checked again after we play on Saturday and if your handicap goes down, you can be put into a different flight, even if you were a winner in your original flight. Is this “par for the course” at other men’s clubs across the country?

First of all, thank you for noticing all the good work Colorado’s volunteer tournament organizers, directors and committees put in. Let’s ALL of us bow our heads for a moment of silent thanks for a job that goes mostly unnoticed until someone has a complaint. League tournament organizers make schedules, choose formats, draw up flights, make foursomes, award prizes and announce results. Oh, and did I mention: field complaints? Many thanks to the hundreds of you who keep our clubs and leagues competitive, fun and engaging.

Fairness, well, that’s another story in this case. So you go out and play on Saturday, flighted and grouped by the handicap you had on Wednesday? Then you win that flight but, oops, not really because your score was so good that your league handicap drops Saturday night or your USGA Handicap Index drops Sunday morning and now you’re retroactively assigned to a higher flight where you finish out of the money?

Nope, never heard of this, and neither has Kate Moore, the CGA’s Managing Director of Rules and Competitions, who is happy to advise clubs on situations like this. “We field lots of questions about flights and pairings throughout the season,” she says. “Especially during club championship time, August and September. Having daily handicap revisions available, clubs want to know when is the best cutoff time.”

The CGA puts on mostly full-field championships, so Moore does flightings, pairings and tee times as far as a week out. She recommends a best practice of what your club is doing: flights and pairings on the Wednesday before the weekend tournament, especially because that lets players plan their time if the tournament isn’t a shotgun start.

“After that, I would suggest not changing a player’s flight until the next tournament,” she says. “Certainly not between the completion of the competition and handing out of the awards.”

The one exception she notes: For some multiple-day events, there might be a qualifying round the first day to determine flights for the subsequent days.

So, let’s circle back to where we started: Your tournament committee, which has taken on a difficult and thankless job, has chosen a not-best practice that is unusual but not illegal. You could start a new club with a minimum of 10 players. Or you could run for office to replace the tournament director.

Less drastically, I suggest you thank your organizers sincerely for all their hard work, and ask if the club could have a discussion – Kate Moore is standing by for a consult if needed – and vote on a better practice for next year.

Molly McMulligan, created by golf journalist and CGA member Susan Fornoff, is the CGA’s on-the-course advisor on how to have more fun on the golf course. You don’t want to take swing lessons from Molly, but if you’ve got a question about etiquette, relationships or the culture of golf in Colorado, Molly will find the answer. Send your questions along here.


Bad weather, bad score – why should I post?

Suppose we don’t agree on a score for a hole?

How do I get them to stop talking?