By Murray Cropley — Principal of HexaDec Services.
www.hexadec.com.au, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A number of readers have recently expressed their irritation at playing in Par competitions. Most readers will know that Par was previously known as “Bogey”, and was considered to be a match by the player against the course. Indeed, the ‘Colonel Bogey March’, of Bridge Over The River Kwai fame, was originally written to ‘celebrate’ the golfer’s mythical opponent, Colonel Bogey, when s/he was playing in this competition score type. And, of course, our favourite competition score type, Stableford, didn’t really become popular until the 1930s — see a recently-released biography of its inventor, Frank Stableford, Stableford: A Life in Golf, Medicine and War, by Bob Edwards. However, it is very likely that most readers will not be aware of a number of statistics regarding Par.
Par, in fact, leads to the best overall scoring of all the three main score types of Stroke, Stableford and Par. I have been collating scores from five Victorian clubs since the introduction of the current handicapping system in January 2014. The clubs are Commonwealth, Green Acres, Latrobe, Shepparton and The National. The table below shows some statistics from these scores, for the period January 2014–mid-July 2018.
|Competitions||Scores||Mean Score||Std Dev in Scores||Mean DSR||Mean DSR – Mean Score|
The scores in this table are Golf Link Handicapping Scores; mean scores and DSRs are given in Stableford points, with the mean DSRs expressed as if the Scratch Rating for each course was the equivalent of 36 points.
Par mean scores are about 2.4 points higher than for Stroke and Stableford competitions and the standard deviation (spread) in scores is much less for Par than it is for Stroke and Stableford. Moreover, the difference between mean DSR and mean handicapping score is much less for Par than for the other two score types. The graph shows the distributions of the three score types for the 42-month period for these clubs.
So, Par scores are generally better than those for Stroke and Stableford, they have a narrower spread, and the DSRs for Par are generally higher (in Stableford points), but closer to the mean scores, than those for the other two score types.
Thus, the much-maligned Par events are actually not as detrimental in an overall sense as is generally believed.
Par for the Course
by Richard Fellner
Following on from the above article…
Over the past few months, I have read countless emails, letters and messages from readers regarding Par competitions. Many of you out there don’t seem to like playing the format.
It’s time for me to chime it.
Personally, I love it. In fact, it may be my favourite format. Here’s why:
One could argue that a Par comp is, actually, the MOST TRADITIONAL form of the game. More traditional than even Stroke. I’ll explain: Looking back at the history of golf (as far back as we can tell, anyway), the game was originally played as a Match Play between twosomes…there were no such things as birdies, pars, bogeys, etc. It didn’t matter if it took you five or 55 shots to get the ball in the hole, as long as you beat your opponent by a shot, it was a win. If you beat him or her by a dozen shots on a hole, it still just counted as going 1-up for that hole. A Par competition is no different…it’s essentially match play against yourself (or against the course). If you beat the “course” with a nett 4 on a par-5, you go 1-up. Old Tom Morris would have been proud.
As a result of this, Par also brings the field closer together: We’ve all played in stableford competitions where some bandit (or lucky player) comes in with, say, 50 or more points. For those of us middle-low markers, there is no way on Earth we could shoot anywhere near that. But in a Par competition the field is more level. A low marker with a nett birdie gets the same result as a high marker who gets the crazy four-pointer. So the podium scores are achievable by many more players.
Sure, many of you out there will grumble that Par comps don’t reward you for getting four-pointers. But in reality, how many four-pointers will you really miss out on? I’d be willing to bet that your wipes will far outnumber the four-pointers each week.
The big benefit for Par over Stableford, in my opinion, is when it comes to recovering from wipes. These days, I’m usually good for, say, three wipes per round. For me to recover from three wipes in Stableford (and get back to square), I would need to have SIX 3-pointers. Good luck with that! But in Par, I only need THREE good holes to recover. Much more manageable. (And I should note that a four-pointer, for me, is all but out of the question. On the rare occasion that I do, say, score a birdie on a hole where I also get a shot, it’s probably due to the fact that the hole index is wrong (which is common), or the course Slope has been rated incorrectly (extremely common). Or just blind luck. Either way, the intrinsic joy I receive from a birdie far outweighs the feeling of being stripped out of an extra point.)