[CQ-Contest] Barking Up the Wrong ARRL DX Tree

Jim Idelson k1ir at designet.com
Wed Apr 6 11:59:56 EDT 2005

W6WRT said:

"Finding a way is easy - create a handicap, just like in golf. Average out 
scores of different areas over many contests over many years and come up with a 
multiplication factor."

I think golf is a good analogy to consider, but handicapping isn't the whole 

The purpose of handicapping in golf is to allow players of widely varying skill 
levels to enjoy a contrived form of competiton in casual play. Better players 
'give strokes' to their less skilled competition. It also allows 
player-leveling in various forms of team play. If you ever play any golf of 
this type, you know that the awards ceremony usually recognizes both 'low 
gross' and 'low net' scorers. Which award would you prefer to win?

This model does not exist in any form of truly competitive golf. A player wins 
or loses a tournament based on gross score. He/she also rises and falls in the 
seasonal rankings based on the same numbers. In golf, there are definitely 
'unfair' advantages that accrue to certain players. A player who enters a 
tournament played on his 'home course' has a tremendous advantage for that 
weekend. But, the professional playing field is leveled through mechanisms like 
the PGA Tour, a series of scheduled events of which certified players must take 
part in a large number in order to maintain their ranking. There is some 
flexibility, though, and players will strategically choose which events to miss 
based on the likely impact on their ranking.

Another factor that goes into player handicapping is called 'course rating'. A 
difficult course gets a higher rating than an easier course. When you submit a 
score to be included in your handicap, you must also specify the course par and 
slope, which contribute to the course rating. A good performance on a tough par 
72 course will have more impact on handicap than the same performance on an 
easy one.

So, perhaps this IS an interesting model for contesting. Using both 
methodologies in our sport could be a very effective way to increase 
competition, identify our global stars, and recognize those who perform well 
for their level of skill. Formalized handicapping on a contest-by-contest 
basis, using past scores in that contest might be an interesting way to 
increase competition - particularly at the 'mid levels' of skill and 
experience. Recognizing high gross scores also makes sense. And what about a 
seasonal 'Contesting Tour', in which competitors must commit to several 
'majors'? Can we create non-handicapped and handicapped seasonal rankings in 
this way?

How about identifiying contest 'par' and 'rating' for some of our major events? 
Should these numbers have regional values? Can we interest any of the really 
smart numbers-guys among us [Ken, Kelly, Pat] to take a look at this?

Jim Idelson K1IR
email    k1ir at designet.com
web    http://www.designet.com/k1ir

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list