Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reverse Sandbagging (not in bowling)

We have all seen the final results of a tournament where we didn't cash or place as high as we had thought.  "There was no way I could have won.  I would have had to shot 892 scratch in singles to win!"  That is because you see a 903 leading the handicap tournament.  Or a 2502 all events score where you can barely break 2100 for nine games on an easy condition.  There may be a protest, there may not be one.  Life goes on, and you go to the next tournament still seething over sandbaggers.

Does the reverse ever occur?  A handicap bowler trying his luck in an elite scratch tournament?  Why would it?  There is no incentive or advantage.  The USBC Masters requires you to have at least a 190 average.

The Masters is open to any USBC league member who has averaged 190 or higher for 21 games during the past two seasons, any non-USBC league member who is classified by the PBA as a Full Member, any bowler who has averaged 190 or higher in his/her past five USBC Tournaments and any state/provincial representatives who have placed first or second in the all-events category of their association tournament.

What if you just want to throw away your entry fee for the chance to bowl with Sean Rash or Chris Barnes?  I may swap stories with Norm Duke or Pete Weber in the locker room!  Naaaa, that does not happen in bowling.

But it happens in golf.

The USGA US Open was completed a couple of weeks ago.  Before that, you could try your shot at qualifying to compete against the world's best on the toughest golf course.  Replace the word 'golf' with 'bowling' and see if that last sentence still had any credibility.  Over 9,000 people tried to qualify for the US Open.  However, many golfers who claimed they were a scratch golfer or had a 1 handicap were shooting two rounds in the 90's or above.  This is not what you would expect if you want to play against Tiger, Phil, or Rory.

Rick Reilly explains the USGA does not approve of the week-end hacker lying about his game to enter this tournament.

If you try to qualify for a U.S. Open (this year it's at Olympic Club in San Francisco, June 14-17), as over 9,000 golfers did this year, try not to play like a drunken yeti. You'll get a letter requiring proof your handicap isn't phonier than a ski slope in Dubai.
Why would you say you are better than you really are?  Isn't sandbagging the opposite?  Well, there is a reason:

Reverse sandbagging has become an epidemic at Open qualifying because golfers realize that for just the $150 entry fee, they can play a practice round and a tournament round at a sweet course they could never get on otherwise. 
 You could get a chance to play with someone really good or famous.  Why not?  Bowling does not seem to have this problem.  Leagues and tournaments with tougher lane conditions, such as that the pros use, don't usually get the membership.  You rarely see these events during the fall or winter seasons.  When bowling becomes a legitimate sport, you will know.  This problem will become evident at your next tournament.  It will give you something new to complain about sandbaggers.  You can complain about the reverse sandbagger:

"We have to," says USGA director Mike Davis. "It's not fair to the guy who's trying to shoot 68-68 to be paired with somebody shooting 90-90 and looking for balls all day. There's no way for him to get any kind of rhythm."