Friday, October 23, 2015

Ask Linda #1176-How best to resolve a tie

Dear Linda,

I am here to bother you again but first many thanks for your help to all my previous requests.

We had concluded our two-day stroke play competition a few days ago. And this question has been bothering me if we did it right. We did the USGA tiebreaker system which is: last 9, last 6, last 3 and so on only on the 2nd game.

What would be the most fair and equitable tiebreaker for this situation?

Two players tied for first place and below are their net scores:
Player 1 = 73 & 73 for 146
Player 2 = 75 & 71 for 146

Thanks so much again for your help.
Lou from Daly City, California

Dear Lou,

I understand why you are having second thoughts. One competitor played slightly better the first day, and the other made a small improvement on the second day. They played to a tie, and you are uncomfortable awarding a championship to the fellow who was fortunate enough to have his better round on the second day.

I am sympathetic to your discomfort, and I have a recommendation for future tournaments:

First of all, the Committee needs to decide in advance of the tournament how a tie for first place will be broken, and it should publish that decision. If the Committee informed the players that the USGA-recommended tiebreak (back 9–6–3) would be used for the scores on the second day, there should be no question about your procedure.

However, I would not recommend a match-of-cards tiebreak for first place in a championship tournament. These two men finished in a dead heat, and they deserve to settle the competition on the course. Depending on your particular circumstances, you can have an 18-hole playoff, a hole-by-hole playoff (the first player with the lower score on a hole wins, commonly called “sudden death”), or a three-hole playoff followed by sudden death. These are the most common choices for a playoff. For my tournaments, I prefer the three-hole option, as it is relatively quick and strikes me as a fair resolution.

Whatever your decision, don’t forget that each player is entitled to his handicap strokes in a net tournament. If you choose to match cards, use the net score for the back nine, back six, etc. If you have a three-hole playoff, you will total each player’s net score for the three holes. In sudden death, each player’s score includes his handicap strokes for each hole played.

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