CGA competitions aren’t just for scratch golfers.
Here’s a guide to opportunities for the rest of us.
By Susan Fornoff
You say it takes two digits to write your course handicap, a weed whacker to find your wayward shots and a hallucination to think you could ever play for a CGA title?
Even if you are miserably correct on the first two points, the CGA’s arms are open. Membership means more, and in this case, more means opportunities to play new courses, make new friends and even, possibly, defeat players better than you are by receiving handicap strokes in the CGA’s net competitions.
“Golf’s a funny game, you never know who’s going to show up and how well they’ll defend their number,” says Ken Kerntke, a member at Littleton’s Arrowhead Golf Club. “That’s one of the fun things about competitive golf – handicaps equalize it, so a 10 handicap can compete with a scratch golfer and a 20 handicap can compete with a 10 handicap.”
Ken has a 10.9 index yet belongs to the team that at least temporarily owns one of the CGA’s biggest trophies, the Team Interclub championship bowl. Arrowhead’s eight-player team, with indexes ranging from 10.9 to 22, took that home with a victory over Battlement Mesa last October 30.
You can play Interclub with an index of 20, or even higher if you’re willing to settle for 20, and women can play the popular Mashie team event with an index as high as 30 and the team Niblick with an index as high as 36.
“The whole ‘competition’ word is what puts people off and makes them nervous,” says Debbie Kolb, a member of four CGA clubs and frequent entry in CGA women’s tournaments. “Stroke play events can be intimidating, but they are flighted, so you’re not going to play with somebody who has a handicap 10 strokes less than yours. Don’t be afraid to try it, most people are there to have fun!”
Debbie has a 28.6 index and has won three of the treasured scotch glasses the CGA awards in women’s tournaments. Except for the prestigious Interclub competition, all the net events also award “cash” prizes of money to spend in the host course pro shop.
Ready to sign up? Here’s a guide to the most popular CGA competitions that equalize players or teams by handicap.
Net Team Play
The 2-Person Team Net Series is the CGA’s newest (and, other than the Parent-Child, so far the only coed) competition. It evolved from Member Play Days, where CGA members get to play courses not easily accessible to the general public. Some players said, “This is great, but it would be even better if we were playing for something.”
At Perry Park (May 22), Black Bear (August 7), Greeley Country Club (August 14)and Flying Horse (October 16) this season, two-person teams will play for pro shop money, and also receive a CGA logo tee prize just for playing. Formats will vary, but the first, May 22 at Perry Park, is a shotgun four-ball, meaning the lowest net score of each two-person team will count on each hole.
Teams may consist of two men or two women or a man and a woman. CGA men do not have as many team tournaments as women do.
“We see that it’s easier for ladies to come out and compete as a team at first,” says Kate Moore, the CGA’s Managing Director of Rules and Competitions. “You have your buddy there with you and maybe it’s less intimidating.”
Women’s Net Tournaments
Here’s Kate Moore’s pitch on why women, regardless of handicap, should enter some of the 13 tournaments open to them:
“We flight everything, and we have two one-day events (the Niblick, June 21 at CommonGround, and the Hickory, July 24 at Lake Valley) specifically for higher handicaps, where the minimum handicap is an 18. The rest of our tournaments are open to whoever! You might play a course you can’t get on, maybe play a different yardage or tee set than you normally play, play with people from around the state, and then there’s the potential to win a little bit of a prize and get some recognition from your peers.”
It helps for all players to know the rules, but even that isn’t an obstacle. “We have referees, volunteers who come out, around the golf course and at trouble holes to help out players,” says Kate. “We also have a cell phone number we give out so if someone has a question they can call from the course.”
Championship flights, which generally are not handicapped, tend to play longer tee sets than all the net flights. Two tournaments are exclusively for seniors, and six of the 13 events are team formats. The newest and most popular, four-person Team Stableford (May 15 at Hiwan), sold out in just eight minutes.
Most women’s tournaments are shotgun formats followed by lunch, so that players have more time to socialize.
Team Interclub began in 2009 with an eight-team trial run, peaked in 2013 with 64 teams and is finally roaring back from the 2020 shutdown showing of 19 teams. Although each one-day, home-and-away match requires eight players, clubs try to build rosters of 24 players because, unlike every other CGA tournament, this one takes months: Entries already have closed for 2023 and round-robin play in four-team pods begins this month and concludes in August.
Then the 16-team playoff bracket is formed and teams rumble toward the championship match, usually on a neutral site at the end of October.
“There are not a lot of opportunities to play on a team of eight,” notes Hannah House, the CGA’s new Interclub administrator. “I think people like the team aspect, the camaraderie, and getting to know other clubs as well.”
The CGA takes on the bulk of the work – just check out the comprehensive 26-page manual – and Golf Genius handles the scoring and stats. “All it takes is somebody to step up and organize it,” says Mariana Butte captain David Spangler. “Where I run into the most problems is working with the course to secure tee times – just two times but on three weekends over the summer. But we have flexibility on the date.”
Each team selects four “A” players and pairs them into two-man teams, and four “B” players make up two more teams. There’s a simultaneous A team match and B team match at each venue.
Spangler has been organizing Loveland’s combined team (including Olde Course) for several years. There has been no cup victory but enough enjoyment that this year the courses will field two teams, most likely one of veterans and one of newbies. His advice to clubs considering entering in 2024: “It doesn’t take a lot of behind-the-scenes effort. And it’s not cutthroat and hard feelings. Just do it! It’s a lot of fun.”
Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own GottaGoGolf.com. She became a CGA member when she moved from Oakland, CA, to Littleton in 2016, and ghost-writes as “Molly McMulligan,” the CGA’s on-course consultant on golf for fun. Email her at email@example.com.