More Crazy Eights

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Recently I wrote a column positing the notion that carrying an eight handicap was the toughest in golf. Briefly, the premise was that eights are always struggling to break 80 and it becomes a psychological barrier.
 
The column struck a nerve. Big time. The E-mails arrived in a blizzard.
 
John Eiland argued that being a +3 was much more trying on the soul. I was playing a 20 in a handicap tournament, he said. And I had to give two shots to a guy on a par 3. He made two. I had to make a minus one on the hole just to tie. Now thats tough to do.
 
Hadnt thought of it that way.
 
I wish, wrote another reader who didnt leave his handicap or name, I was an eight.
 
Funny article, said Scott Curtis, a 10 from Canada. But I dont think being a 10 is perfect. Theres something special about getting below double digits.
 
Don Wall clarified the problem. The handicap, he said, isnt actually designed to get you to par. It is designed to get you to the course rating for the tees you are playing that day..Play a 70 rating (par 72) and that 79 feels goodbut soon you will be a nine.
 
Tiff Tonn from Vancouver is an eight who played 170 rounds last year. I must have shot 80 30 or more times, he said. What are you gonna do, though? It still beats mowing the lawn.
 
I have been six to eight for a number of years, observed Robin Cunningham. Its more fun to say you are a six than to have to play to a six.
 
Ty from Winona, Mn. is a 7.9 index. And when he gets into the 70s, he says, drinks are on the houseor as we say here at Westfield Golf Club, spin em.
 
Ken Gaines, a four from Daytona Beach, summarily dismissed my hypothesis. An eight handicap for the average golfer that is retired and plays several times a week is almost a no-brainer, he said. Hit the fairway from the tee and two putting in most cases will keep you at an eight handicap.
 
If thats the case, I cant wait for retirement.
 
Eight is an ego killer, wrote David McKee from Texas. If you are a nine, nobody expects you to shoot in the 70s. But if you are an eight, they call you a sandbagger.
 
Or worse.
 
Im an eight and its a bitch, wrote someone who identified himself only as JB.
 
Then there was this left-handed compliment from a reader who goes by the handle of phredi phredi. I cant say I ever agree with you, phredi phredi said. But, damn, I have to give credit where it is due.
 
Thanks. I think.
 
Mark Wilson (not the Mark Wilson on the PGA Tour) is an eight who offered specifics from a recent round: I stood on the 18th tee having played well during the day and needing par to shoot 78. Hit a bullet for a tee shot. 20 yards left of the fairway and out of bounds. Made a seven and shot 81Id rather have shot 90.
 
Other respondents were just plain jealous. Making bogey on 18 to card a 90 is just as painful (I say more) than scoring a bogey on 18 to card an 80, said Greg Greenwald, an 18 from Missouri.
 
Not so, said Dan Perry. Its hell, he said, being an 8.2.
 
The air smells much better up here in nine-land, wrote Henry Schumann from Florida.
 
Another plight of the eight was pointed out by Dave Raudenbush. In some tournaments you are in A-flight but sometimes you are in B-flight, he said. If youve gotten your handicap down to single digits, you want to play with the big boys, not the middle handicappers. Nobody cares who wins the B-flight. But if you are the A player in a group, the pressure is tremendous. Everyone expects you to shoot in the 70s, by definition you are more likely to shoot 80, a score which rarely helps the team.
 
Paul Woods played with his boss last Saturday in Phoenix. The greens fee was comped. So was the after dinner cigar. But Woods is an eight. He shot 82. I would rather have been at work, he said.
 
Carlos from Orlando is an 18 and proud of it. Hes also a fan of The Golf Channels The Big Break. Ill get my own group of hackers and start The Big Duff: Ugly golf with dignity, he said.
 
My favorite E-mail came from Bruce Muir, a social worker from British Columbia, where the climate is a tad more temperate than most of Canada. Being a nine in this part of Canada and still playing golf every weekend when my buddies are frozen to their steering wheels has its advantages, he said. I would rather be a nine here than a six in Winnipeg any day.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt