GHIN and Tonic
Yes indeed, say the supporters of the nations golf handicap system. For all intents and purposes, thats the U.S. Golf Association, the developer of the most widely accepted formula for calculating a numerical measurement of the difference between two golfers abilities. Thats developer, and still champeen: The USGA has been vindicated in a number of court cases in which it upbraided those who would try to modify or appropriate its formula and use it to sell handicap services.
But as long as you calculate handicaps in accordance with the USGA formula, what you get is a USGA Handicap. Within those constraints, you can compute the number any way you like.
We basically say, Heres the manual, go ahead, says Kevin OConnor, senior director of handicapping at the USGA. Anyone is free to develop handicapping software.
There are five major computation systems in use for the approximately 5.5 million U.S. golfers who keep handicaps. The most popular is the Golf Handicap Information Network, or GHIN. (In-the-know golf folks say the H is silent.)
To me, a longtime devotee of the idea of a world community of golf, the best thing about GHIN is the limitless peer review. Thats right: If you have the GHIN number, or even just the name, of a golfer who keeps a handicap, you can look up that persons Handicap Index and check out the last 20 scores he or she posted. Just go to www.GHIN.com and go to town.
Who can resist?
Consider your golf Freedom of Information Act request filed. Herewith, Handicap Indexes of a number of prominent golfing Americans:
Where to start, where to start? How about with the USGA? Executive director David Fay is a solid 9.4 at three clubs in northern New Jersey. Current president Reed Mackenzie, a veteran member at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn., is a 6.3. And I know for a fact hes upset that its that high.
PGA Tour boss Tim Finchem is a 4.4 at the TPC at Sawgrass (where else?). Of course, hes too busy to play much, but hes known to be a physical fitness fan, so its not surprising he can keep it low.
Presidents? We got em, sort of. Former president George H.W. Bush (41 to his pals) isnt listed in GHIN, but Babs has a 32.6 at Cape Arundel in Maine. Possible future president and Florida governor Jeb Bush is a 9.9 at Capital City CC in Tallahassee. His brother (43 to his pals) is too busy for golf, and with good reason.
No record of a handicap for Gerald Ford. There are four people named Jimmy Carter in Georgia with Handicap Indexes ranging from 8.6 to 18.8. I called the Carter Center, the headquarters in Atlanta from which the former president organizes his efforts against war, hunger and poverty. The press people admitted this was different than the usual media inquiry, and said they would get back to me when they could. Considering the work Carter does now, I can forgive that callback for never getting here.
I didnt find a handicap for Bill Clinton, but there is a Butch Clinton in Fayetteville, Ark. with an Index of 38.6. Finally, someone I have to give strokes.
Actors and other bright-lights types: Kevin Costner doesnt have one. Somehow Im disappointed. Neither does George Clooney. But Matt Damon is a 17.9. Matt Lauer: 5.7 at Deepdale. Katie Couric:: No handicap.
Donald Trump: +0.9 at Winged Foot, but get this: He hasnt posted for more than a year, and then he shot 100. Cmon, Donald; wheres the first tee?
Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz is a stick: 1.1 at four different Atlanta-area clubs. Golf duels with his teammates are the stuff of dugout legend, and no wonder: Tom Glavine is a 4.2 at two clubs (Smoltz is a member at both. Ace Greg Maddux isnt listed, though.
Casey Martin is too good to worry about handicaps, of course. But dad King is an 11.1 at Eugene (Ore.) CC, and brother Cameron is +0.1. Five a side for the old man? Or should we just play off Caseys +6, or whatever it is? The fourth might be Caseys lawyer, Bill Wiswall, who is a 10.9 at Eugene.
Golf industry types: Acushnet chief Wally Uihlein is a 5.0. Barney Adams, always a serious player, is a 7.6 at Preston Trails in Dallas. TaylorMade-adidas Golfs Jim Stutts is at 17.0. No handicaps reported for Callaway chief Ron Drapeau (nor for any of the Callaway brass); same deal for the Solheim family at Ping.
And since I knew youd ask: Brian Hammons: 8.1; Jennifer Mills: 16.4; Mike Ritz: 5.2; Dave Marr III: 7.0 (at Shinnecock); Kraig Kann: 6.0 (and he has kids). The others are either too good or too lazy to turn in scores.
There are about 26 million golfers in the United States, and it appears that handicaps are important to only about 20 percent. Itd be nice if there were more. It only costs a few bucks per year, and its one more way golfers are held together by a web of interest and enthusiasm. Golfers arent a bunch of solitary joggers in the park or bouncers on separate aerobics mats. A few sandbaggers may try to spoil the fun occasionally, but the honor system generally works. We have the makings of a worldwide fraternity here.
Hm? Whats that? I cant hear youyou want to know what? Hang on; I think we have a bad connection
Oh, all right. Its 26.0. But Im getting better! (And I carry the card, just to make sure I dont get lynched if I happen to string together a couple pars.)
DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites
Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.
While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.
Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.
McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.
Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.
Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:
12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
18/1: Justin Rose
20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day
30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar
60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson
80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner
100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman
Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win
After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.
The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.
A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.
The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.
That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.
Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.
Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race
A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.
Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.
Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.
Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Xander Schauffele
12. Matt Kuchar
13. Kevin Kisner
14. Tony Finau
15. Brian Harman
On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.
Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Francesco Molinari
2. Justin Rose
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Tommy Fleetwood
1. Jon Rahm
2. Alex Noren
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Paul Casey
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.