Posted by: bluesman_vt_2002

Handicapping - 12/22/08 02:27 PM

Just received an email from our Association Manager regarding the preparation for our local Association Tournament. Last year, we used 100% of 210, in a house that only has 8-10 200+ average bowlers. This year, the number of 200+ is roughly the same, but the proposal is that we should go to 100% of 220.

My concern is that this will drive away scratch bowlers because of what they consider insurmountable odds.

Can anyone tell me their experiences with this? I remember when every tournament was 100% of 200...
Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Handicapping - 12/22/08 02:36 PM

Usually, handicap is based on the highest average bowler. 100% of the difference levels the playing field. Everyone has the same chance.

But, you are right. The higher average bowlers enjoy the advantage of a lower base or a lower %. This might discourage them. But, attract many more lower bowlers.

My Coach has finished top scratch score in each of the last 3 Association tournaments, but has never finished in the top 10 when handicap has been added.
He still comes back.
Posted by: jsigone

Re: Handicapping - 12/22/08 05:09 PM

100% of 220 is HARD for a scratch bowler to beat.....most handicap tournys here are 90% of 210-220. That few pins give us some type of hope.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Handicapping - 12/22/08 08:10 PM

My concern is that this will drive away scratch bowlers because of what they consider insurmountable odds.

I wouldnt' have bowled the previous year either. There's something wrong when everyone has to be made equal, without putting in equal amount of effort. Those that work harder at this sport, get coaching, knowledge, practice,information etc......have earned what little advantage 75%-90% handicap might give them. Even so, we still have WAaAAaaayyyyyy too many sandbaggers for me to bowl any association tournaments that are not divided up into divisions.

Maybe your association could consider a scratch city tournament that's in divisions and/or [censored]. Then the ladies won't have to compete with the men, the 140 average bowler wouldn't have to compete against a 180 or 200 average bowler.

Posted by: bluesman_vt_2002

Re: Handicapping - 12/22/08 10:05 PM

"There's something wrong when everyone has to be made equal, without putting in equal amount of effort."

This I agree with completely. It's frustrating when you invest time and money into studying the game, getting coaching and buying equipment to compete. The problem with our association is that it's small and multiple divisions just isn't possible.

The concept was brought up by a team that is in the cellar, only won 3 matches all year and just got beat a couple weeks ago by a team that tied the house record. I tried to explain that the reason that they lost wasn't due to the handicap, but rather that two of the guys had 700 (one of them 781). I also explained that their loss only proved my point. One of the women on the team, who averages 165-170, shot 660 on the night with a 266 her first game. Now, she earned it. She's worked on her game and quite frankly just had one of those nights because normally she's low to mid 500's, but when you have a 170 average bowler shooting 660, even if your scratch bowlers are -10, you aren't going to win...
Posted by: bryhardt

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 01:45 AM

This article was originally in the Bowlers Journal about this subject.

Posted by: bluesman_vt_2002

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 06:03 AM

Thanks Bryhardt, I went looking for that article and couldn't the edition that it was originally printed in.

One clarification too. Earlier I stated that the team in the cellar didn't lose because of handicap and that reads wrong, the handicap was there with the woman that shot 266 and when you factor in her handicap she was well over 300. And that's not something that I would complain about. She threw a great game and a great set.

But they didn't lose the game or all the matches that they have lost this year because they don't have enough handicap, because trust me, when you bowl these cats and your giving up almost 250 pins per game, they have plenty. They lost because they are simply out bowled by other teams.

Unfortunately as I mentioned, we're a small association so a Senior League just wouldn't get the turnout to start up. But I also don't think that starting the mentality of bumping the handicap solves that either. More handicap doesn't make you a better bowler.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 01:51 PM

Many of our local tournaments see the same group of people cashing every time. They come in with mediocre averages and always shoot better in tournaments. Its difficult to rerate someone but we do it. It takes gathering years of information. Even so, some still fly under the radar. Mostly now we are seeing people switching hands so they have a lower average. Then they go to a tournament where the tournament manager wouldn't necessrily know what hand they normally bowl with and then they bowl lights out. Or the rerated ones are now bunching up with lower average bowlers for team events, like 120 average bowlers. Then in tournaments those 120 average bowlers shoot 160s. That's flying under the radar.

Give these people 100% handicap too? You got to be crazy. I think if we went back to something like 66 1/3% like it used to be that would not give the sandbaggers that much advantage.

Posted by: General Pounder

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 02:21 PM

Problem is that going to 66 1/3% handicap kills the bowlers who are there for fun and not sandbaggers.
Posted by: Chubbs

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 02:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Atochabsh
Mostly now we are seeing people switching hands so they have a lower average. Then they go to a tournament where the tournament manager wouldn't necessrily know what hand they normally bowl with and then they bowl lights out.

Anybody who does this deserves to have their kneecaps busted, and then get Monsoned. mad I can't overstate how much this kind of stuff ticks me off.

Great article, BTW. Thanks for posting that, it gave me some hope!


I understand what you're saying, but if those "for fun" bowlers are really there just for fun then it shouldn't matter what the system is. I'm sure there are alot of bowlers who roll in league and tourneys for the social aspect and purely for enjoyment, but there are also alot who say that as a front for their 'bagging. If you want to be there for something more than a good time and be competitive, then GET BETTER. Don't just play with the house odds until they're in your favor.
Posted by: Chubbs

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 03:03 PM

Sorry to double post, but I found a great bit of dialogue from the Simpsons that applies perfectly to this subject.

Lisa: But my parents are counting on seeing me dance! And Iíve worked ever so hard.

Vicki: Iím sorry, Lisa, but giving everyone an equal part when theyíre clearly not equal is called what, again, class?

Class: Communism!
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 03:17 PM

Problem is that going to 66 1/3% handicap kills the bowlers who are there for fun and not sandbaggers.

If they are there for fun, then I guess they don't care if they win or lose.

Posted by: General Pounder

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 03:20 PM


I understand your point. But when you make it that much harder for a person who is coming out for fun to win and they come out week after week and get stomped, where is the fun in that? Fun bowlers don't want to be pushovers. They want to be somewhat competitive.
Posted by: Chubbs

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 03:35 PM

Originally Posted By: General Pounder

I understand your point. But when you make it that much harder for a person who is coming out for fun to win and they come out week after week and get stomped, where is the fun in that? Fun bowlers don't want to be pushovers. They want to be somewhat competitive.

Of course it's not fun to get rolled, but it should motivate you to improve your capabilities so it doesn't happen again. Up until about 15 years ago, that was the American way. Instead of honoring the game by working at it, "Joe Justforfun" tries to win by cooking the numbers and stacking the odds in his favor and in so doing makes a mockery of bowling. Real improvement is accessible to anyone through coaching, practice, and properly fit equipment. Winning that way is far more satisfying than using the crutch of handicap.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 03:43 PM

I know its not fun to lose all the time. But the way handicap is now, its not fair to the 180 - 210 bowler. They get caught in the middle. Killed by handicap and not good enough for the higher scratch bowlers.

Where's my "bailout"?

Posted by: dmoney298

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 04:07 PM

I totally understand what everyone had been saying here. In my area, finding a handicap tournament is like finding a needle in a haystack. Just aint going to happen. Unfortunately I'm not good enough to compete in a scratch tournament. So like Erin said, you kinda stuck in the middle if you're in that range. On an interesting note, there are two teams in my friday nite league. They are out there for fun, but when you bowl them you will give up at least 100 pins. I've had to give up 150 when I bowl the two teams. But surprisingly, these two teams are currently first and second going into the last position round to end the first half of the season.
Posted by: cgeorg

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 04:11 PM

It's the other way here. We have one local tour that is scratch - no scratch leagues, not many scratch tournaments, no sport leagues, and only a few of the tournaments are on non-house shots. I would love to be in a scratch/sport friendly area. Perhaps someday I can get more of that around here.
Posted by: Jay R.

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 07:52 PM

My team in my handicap league is always giving pins. We seem to give no less than 100 every time, I could be wrong though. There might be a couple teams between 50 and 100 pins. And we have a 130 average bowler with my 200 and my other teammates are 205+ and 180+. Handicap is 100% of 200. I don't mind giving pins honestly, I'm not bowling with sandbaggers, but we have to outbowl our opponents like there's no tomorrow if we want to win, especially if my 130 average and 180 average bowler are shooting 100 and 150 respectively. Those games, we're just not going to win unless some how the other team has bowlers that are way under average.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Handicapping - 12/23/08 08:29 PM

I don't mind giving pins in league, but I'm not willing to give 100%. And I'm certainly not in favor of giving 100% in tournaments.

Posted by: dante21

Re: Handicapping - 12/27/08 01:19 AM

I don't get it. I bowl to have fun, and winning just happens to be fun. I'm about as ulta-competitive as a person can get, but I want to win under fair conditions for everyone, except not putting higher average bowlers at a disadvantage. The only way to get better is to play against others that are better than you. At least that is the way it is for me. In high school I wanted to hit of the best pitcher, wanted to be guarded by the best defender who is forcing me to get better or fall behind. Maybe it's just the competitiveness in me.
Posted by: Lefty

Re: Handicapping - 12/27/08 09:35 AM


That tournament uses 70% of 210 and draws a huge amount of bowlers. They also bowl on a pretty flat shot and the best bowlers always end up making the cut and cashing. It is a handicap tournament and the entry fee is only $50 so it draws a lot of bowlers. There were 1083 not counting re-entries.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Handicapping - 12/27/08 03:21 PM

A lot of people do not want to work to get better. They are too busy or just don't have the drive and desire. They want handicap to even the field for them, when in most cases they could improve themselves with some effort. Many sub 150 bowlers are so intimidated by those over 200 that they don't even think they could ever get competative enough. This is why I think divisions are a good idea, and if you improve you can move up in division.

Posted by: dante21

Re: Handicapping - 12/27/08 05:13 PM

Oh, I completely agree divisions are a great idea. If properly implemented with no people trying to sandbag. Back when I was in high school my sophomore year Indiana went to a class system for state tournaments instead of every school in the same tourney. Coming from a small school with a record (yes it was a record) 61 seniors this allowed us not have to play huge schools such as Michigan City and Indianapolis. However when we got to semi-state in basketball and baseball we ran into the same Catholic school who by ISHAA loopholes was allowed to recruit kids, but stayed small enough to compete at the lowest level. They won state 2 out of the 3 years back then, and the same thing happens with divisions and sandbagging.
Posted by: superchick

Re: Handicapping - 01/22/09 11:44 AM

I bowled for the first time last week as a sub in a league. My first game was 161, 2nd was 148 and 3rd 215. Now the third game my adrenaline was flowing and the team captain told me to pull back, if i wanted to. Now I asked him WHY should I pull back, he said "you are setting an average and you dont want to set it high". Now afterwards we won all 4 games and it was due to handicaps. The team I was on was a last place team of 32 teams and we bowled against a 4th place team. They said they hadnt won a game in weeks. They asked me for my phone number and invited me to come back. Now heres my point, I hadnt bowled in 15 yrs until may of 2008. When I stopped bowling on a league in the 80's my book average was 189. There was sandbaggin then but it was only mainly at the beginning of the season when someone was setting an average and once u did that you went on and bowled your behind off also there was no prize money involved just trophies. After a 25 yr hiatus from league bowling, I come back to find it to be totally different. I have NEVER been encouraged to bowl badly or miss spares. The prize monies arent enough for me to split 6000.00 between 5 members, uncle sam and the cost of bowling weekly to make me not try to do my best. I dont care about being on the last placed team because I am truly one that enjoys the sport. I am not competitive against other people at all by I compete against myself. I truly enjoyed bowling for the first time in over 20 yrs on a league the other night but if it is that darn competitive I might rethink it. I am a very good spare bowler. I pick up 98% of my spares. I dont throw a big curve but I am extremely accurate sparer and that is why I was seeked by most teams back in the 80's. I will ALWAYS compete against myself and try to be the best but I could care less about trying to compete against anyone else. So this handicap and sandbagging stuff has ruined the sport.
Posted by: cgeorg

Re: Handicapping - 01/22/09 12:27 PM

It should be easy for you to find another team that shares your values. I would not bowl for that team again.
Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Handicapping - 01/22/09 12:48 PM

I find it comical when this is done. People rely on the almighty HANDICAP to win games. If you look at most handicap leagues, the higher scratch average team usually wins.
Posted by: sk8shorty01

Re: Handicapping - 01/22/09 03:46 PM

I agree. I never sandbag to try and get a low average, not even week one. Here is an example, in the summer league that just passed I started the year off 690-732-702, and I had a 234 average or something like that. Now there was no way I was going to keep it there but it was worth every bit of it to start off like that. I would never consider doing anything differently and if I were you I would look for a different team and bowl with people that are their to bowl well and have fun.
Posted by: wuphat

Re: Handicapping - 01/28/09 02:49 AM

I bowl with my duaghter in a non-sanctioned Adult Child league.

We have 3 sessions per year and we ended the fall session with my avg at 179 and hers at 120. Well, we are 9 games into the new session and I'm at 190 and she is at 135. She's 12 and I've been very adament about teaching her the right way to bowl, and I don't mean the physical aspect. We don't sandbag, we don't throw away shots. She knows more about lane courtesy than most adults. The handicap is 90% of the difference of the two teams. We take our lumps when it comes to handicap, often losing by less than 20 pins even when we are over avg. It happens. I wish there were a better way, but we press on, and I use those loses as a training tool to show her where a missed spare could make the difference in a game.

In fact, this past week we missed out on 63 pins because of 6 missed single pin spares between us in one game alone. I showed this to her and the next game she didn't miss a single single pin spare.

Wow, didn't mean to go off on a tangent like that. Stream of consious much?