The Calcutta Golf Tournament
An Orgy of Delirium 

For most golfers a Calcutta is their only chance to play golf for any "real money". They are exciting to play in, to watch and bet on. Quite frankly they can also be dangerous and will often attract a cast of characters and their shenanigans that may not normally find their way into the country club grill room.  The purses you see will probably exceed $20,000 and maybe even exceed $30,000 depending on the "golfers". Now when you look at the PGA money list these purses are laughable, but when consider Calcutta golf tournaments are often sponsored and played by your 'average' golf club member and his or her guest, with 1st place possibly paying golf club dues for a year +, you can see why you might see a padded handicap or two. I mean really she can hit a driver from a fairway bunker 250+, and she's a 13 ?

The above being said let's take a look at how the basic country club Calcutta is set up and played.  

 

The following assumptions are being made about the tournament;

  1. It is a 4-ball tournament
  2. A round robin format is being played, 5 rounds, six teams per bracket
  3. It is a handicap event
  4. A scoring system has been established. For maximum drama use scoring system where winning a match yields one point and each hole won by and additional point one per hole, with no negative points. An example team A defeats team B and does so by 2 holes, there score for the round would 1.2 while team B's score would be zero. This type of scoring system keeps the most teams "in it" for the entire round and unless you have a run away keeps the drama in the golf tournament through out.

We will be using a fictitious tournament as an example to show different aspects of how such a tournament may progress. Although a few of the names may look familiar, these events never happened. 

After it is determined how many teams there are going be, the brackets are drawn up and listed on an auction board. The order within each bracket to be determined by the committee who may go strictly by handicap, team lowest to team highest. Some golf clubs will have the teams play a qualifying round with team net scores determining the bracket order.



The golf tournament committee meets to discuss the upcoming Calcutta.

The committee hard at work, check out the golf shoes.


The Calcutta Score Board 

Usually the auction/scoreboard is brought in the the club grill room setting off  a buzz during the pre-tournament dinner. After dessert and during post dinner cocktails the auction will begin. Each team will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The winning bidder then "owns" the team for the tournament and in the event "his" team wins the winning bidder receives the winner's share of the purse. Teams and it's members are allowed to buy themselves and in the event that they are out bid they can buy back from the winning bidder up to 1/2 the ownership in themselves. There is normally a minimum bid which generally sets the tone for entire bidding process.

 

Pleasantville Golf and Country Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

                       
G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14                
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13                
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15                
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14                
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam 18                
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26                
      Total Purse      1st Place  

2nd Place

     
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 
 

A lot of clubs in tournament play limit the handicap differential ( usually 8) between golfing partners in an attempt to limit the affect potential sandbaggers have on the outcome, they also play most 4 four ball matches at 80% handicap. As you can see though that here a Pleasantville Golf and Country Club there appears to be no handicap differential limit in place. For our purposes we will assume that the handicaps listed are adjusted to 80%. A little trick that lower handicap tournament committees to try pull is to play 80% of the differential handicap.....but 80% differential clearly swings quickly in favor of the lower handicap team. Watch for this little sleigh of "hand" as it most assuredly leads to a blood bath of mid and high handicap golfers. Anyway let's proceed to what the board looks like after the Calcutta auction has taken place.

 

The Calcutta Bidding

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00              
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00              
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00              
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00              
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam 18 4,512.00              
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00              
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00    
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

One of things that often takes place is the formation of  wagering syndicates, that often times blur the lines of interest. Take for example that Grace Roberts husband Worthington is a close friend and business associate of Edith Adams's husband John and his son John Quincy. The three of them decide to form a syndicate and invite a few of the boys and girls at the bar to join them including Ginger Olsen and her boyfriend Ollie Campbell, Dorothy Campbell's wayward brother. ( There were plenty of whispers through out the grill room when this couple showed up as Olga Jenson's guests. Olga's choice of  friends was becoming a bit of a concern for her parents, Judge and Mrs. Jenson.  

Anyway syndicates are formed, some with over lapping members which at times would seem to create situations where "a conflict of interest" among bidders may result.

Now you can see from the winning bids that it got pretty lively with only one team going off at the minimum bid, it being placed by Randall Peterson, Linda's husband with no one joining him. It seems Linda's 4 was more like a 14 and the bidding pool not knowing Glenna Vare, was pretty sure they were looking at last place.

After the bidding is complete and posted the golfers are given a chance to purchase from the winning bidders up to 50% of the "shares". 

Now note the different % that the players bought. Buying the 50% max is normal but you can see a couple differences here The first one jumps right out at you and that is Francine Perry and Margaret Curtis owning 100% of their own team. That could have happened for a number of reasons but it is interesting to note that not only is it the highest % owned by players but the highest $ paid by players. They either felt very confident or some how got sucked in to bidding themselves up to increase the purse size.

As far as Linda Peterson and Glenna Vare are concerned, Linda's 25% is surely being covered by her husband Randall and Glenna not wanting to rock the boat limited her share purchase to 25% and in the case of Ruth Birch and Zaharias even the 25% stake was more than they hoped to "invest".

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00

50%

           
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00 50%            
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00 25%            
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00 100%            
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam  18 4,512.00 40%            
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00 25%            
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place 

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00

   
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

 

Tournament Play

So at 12 noon on Friday the starting shot gun is fired and around 3:45 the scores are posted. (Yes these ladies are playing at a brisk pace.) It appears that Linda Peterson's partner Glenna Vare either had a career round (68) or may not be the 15 handicap she is sporting.  Having made mince meat of Rosa Birch, who did shoot a career round and her partner Babe Zaharias who shot to her handicap. In other matches Grace Roberts and her partner tied with Olga Jenson and Dorothy Campbell while Francis Perry and her partner Margaret Curtis won a hard fought battle with Edith Adams and her young partner that Swedish chick.

With two rounds planned for Saturday, the grill room emptied fairly early with Linda Peterson and her partner closing the bar after celebrating their early tournament lead with maybe just one or two extra Manhattans. 

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00

50%

0          
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00 50% 0          
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00 25% 1.3          
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00 100% 1.1          
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam  18 4,512.00 40% 0          
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00 25% 0          
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place 

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00

   
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

Well, well Saturday morning is here and there is a little more tension in the air. You now have a pair of leaders and for 4 of the teams that 16 grand seemed to be just a little further away. As the players were leaving the putting green for their tees and the shot gun start Ollie Campbell was seen handing the Pro a $100 bill. A couple things made this especially odd; the first being other than staff Ollie was the only male on the club grounds. The second Ollie had not been up before noon on a Saturday in 10 years and here was at 7:45 handing the Pro a Franklin.  

At that point things even got stranger. The Pro for years had been firing the shot gun for tournament starts from the putting green. Today however he marched over to the first tee where Grace Roberts and Kathy Whitworth were about to play their match with Linda Peterson and a very hung over Glenna Vare. Standing only inches behind Ms Vare he fires both barrels of his 12 gauge to signal the start of this mornings round, sending Ms Vare stumbling off the side of the tee box falling head first into the ball washer.

Before Linda could help her partner to her feet Grace and Kathy had ripped their opening drives 270 dead center, turned to Linda and Glenna snapping "You're up."

At about 11:40 all the scores were posted and to the surprise of everyone Linda Peterson played lights out and with no help from her hung over, newly deaf and crippled partner, managed to hold her opponents to a 1 hole victory.  Francis Perry and her amazingly steady partner Margaret Curtis played to hard fought tie with Olga Jenson and her British playing partner Dorothy Campbell. ( Curtis vs Campbell, hmm has this ever happened before ?) And in the remaining match in the bracket Rosa Birch and Babe Zaharias defeated Edith Adams and the Swedish chick by 2 holes putting them in 2nd place in the bracket. 

Still in the overall lead Linda Peterson knocked down a couple Bloody Mary's courtesy of Judge Jenson who happened to be having lunch at the club with Olga's friend Ginger's sister Tiffany.  

As the 1:30 afternoon shotgun approached it became questionable as to whether or not  Linda or her partner would make it to the tee, let alone through 18 holes.

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00

50%

0 1.1/1.1        
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00 50% 0 0/0        
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00 25% 1.3 0/1.3        
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00 100% 1.1 0/1.1        
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam  18 4,512.00 40% 0 0/0        
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00 25% 0 1.2/1.2        
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place 

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00

   
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

As expected Olga and Dorothy hammered  a drunken Linda Peterson and her now pathetic partner Glenna Vare winning by a margin of 5 holes which would give them the lead at the end of Saturday's play. In other matches Edith Adams finished with 3 birdies in a row to put she and the Swedish chick on the board as well. With the match between Francis Perry and her partner Margaret Curtis versus Rosa Birch and Babe Zaharias ending in a tie the leader board showed it was still anybody's tournament to win. The grill room, crackled with tension as Olga Jenson and Rosa Birch started jawing at each other about some questionable rules incident from 6 weeks ago during league night play.  

Margaret Curtis, just finishing a round with Rosa and clearly tied of listening to her bitching and moaning joined the fracas. Judge Jenson still at the bar with a drunken and disheveled Tiffany, seeing Margaret stepping in thought she was attacking his daughter and stepped in just in time to get slapped in the face by Rosa who was taking a shot at Margaret. 

Before things got really out of hand Babe Zaharias intervened, ( nobody wanted to mess with Babe ) things broke up, and the grill room emptied without further incident. 

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00

50%

0 1.1/1.1 1.1/1.1      
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00 50% 0 0/0 1.5/1.5      
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00 25% 1.3 0/1.3 0/1.3      
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00 100% 1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1      
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam  18 4,512.00 40% 0 0/0 1.2/1.2      
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00 25% 0 1.2/1.2 1.2/1.2      
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place 

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00

   
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

As the players began showing up for Sunday mornings round the tension once again returned, $16,768 on the line and for now every team still in the hunt. The pressure would takes its toll Sunday morning for sure and the tournament committee was committed to keeping the "Calcutta Shenanigans" in line, placing "officials" on every tee. For the most part it helped the behavior but the golf became truly horrific, starting with Grace Roberts sending her first tee shot dead right into a tree, then ricocheting hitting Francis Perry right in the nose. Within seconds both her eyes were swollen shut and a very angry Margaret Curtis would have to play Sunday's matches alone.  

The golf never improved the and match would end up a tie, although Margaret had a chance to win but stubbed a 2 foot putt on 18 that caused her to loss the hole ( not to mention her temper, sending her putter on a cross country flight ) and tie the match. 

In other action, Olga Jenson managed an 80 which was good enough pull off a tie Rosa Birch and Babe Zaharias, and in spite of whiffing twice Linda Peterson and her recovering partner managed to pull off a tie against Edith Adams and the Swedish chick.

Three pressure packed matches, 12 rounds of the most horrific golf Pleasantville had ever seen, and you got all six teams in contention for the final round of the Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta.

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00

50%

0 1.1/1.1 1.1/1.1 0/1.1    
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00 50% 0 0/0 1.5/1.5 0/1.5    
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00 25% 1.3 0/1.3 0/1.3 0/1.3    
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00 100% 1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1    
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam  18 4,512.00 40% 0 0/0 1.2/1.2 0/1.2    
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00 25% 0 1.2/1.2 0/1.2 0/1.2    
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place 

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00

   
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

As the players wondered into the grill room for their luncheon break, they found the place to be packed and brisling with excitement.  Keep in mind that we are just presenting here the action taking place in one bracket. There are probably 5 other brackets, generating a potential purse in excess of $100,000 to divided up among the winners and their "owners", some of who "own" shares of multiple teams, possibly in the same bracket.

No doubt the liquor is flowing freely among the "owners" and their words of encouragement and laughter fill the room. 

As the 1:30 tee time approaches the players begin what looks and sounds like a march to battle, little if any chatter, all with their game faces on. Ollie Campbell was holding the door for the parading warriors, wishing them a fanned "good luck" as each passed by. Then the oddest thing happened. Just as Edith Adams and her partner approached he seemed to try and slam the door, as if to hit them on there way to the tee. But as he did a gust of wind kicked up and blew the door back at him striking him in the face sending him stumbling into some of the near by patio furniture, all the while Edith and Annika so into psyching themselves up they didn't notice a thing. 

Well the Sunday afternoon golf was the exact opposite of the Sunday morning golf with stripped drive followed by soaring approaches and solid pars. The matches virtual dead heats except one. Olga Jenson's partner Dorothy Campbell was playing out of her mind, making shot after shot including holing out from a fairway bunker on number seven. But as amazing as her golf was Edith's partner, the Swedish girl was putting on a clinic of her own. No miracle shots, just hitting everything down the middle and stiffing every approach, simply making birdie after birdie. When the dust settled, she had shot a 59, taking the match by 7 holes. 

The match between Linda Peterson and Francis Perry partner ended up tied as Glenna Vare seemed to recover well enough to hold off a charging Margaret Curtis, while Rosa Birch and Babe Zaharias managed to solid 2 hole victory over Grace Roberts and her partner Kathy Whitworth.

Pleasantville Golf Club
Ladies Member-Guest Calcutta Golf Tournament
$1000.00 minimum bid
80% Purse 1st Place Finish
20% Purse 2nd Place Finish

Member Handicap

Guest

Handicap

Winning Bid

Players %

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Totals

G. Roberts 3

K. Whitworth

14 $3,623.00

50%

0 1.1/1.1 1.1/1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1 1.1
O. Jenson 5

D. Campbell

13 2,784.00 50% 0 0/0 1.5/1.5 0/1.5 0/1.5 1.5
L. Peterson 4 G. Vare 15 1,000.00 25% 1.3 0/1.3 0/1.3 0/1.3 0/1.3 1.3
F. Perry  7 M. Curtis 14 1,918.00 100% 1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1 0/1.1 1.1
E. Adams 3 A. Sorenstam  18 4,512.00 40% 0 0/0 1.2/1.2 0/1.2 1.7/2.9 2.9
R. Birch 2 B. Zaharias 26 7,123.00 25% 0 1.2/1.2 0/1.2 0/1.2 1.2/2.4 2.4
      Total Purse  $20,960.00  

1st Place 

$16,768.00

2nd Place

$4192.00

   
 

Order of Matches

 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
1 vs 2 5 vs 6 4 vs 6 1 vs 4 3 vs 4
3 vs 6 1 vs 3 2 vs 3 3 vs 5 1 vs 6
4 vs 5 2 vs 4  1 vs 5 2 vs 6 2 vs 5
 

 

The Calcutta Payoffs

Well now the it is time to divide the purses and see how things worked out. Let's start with our second place finishers. Rosa and Babe had bought 25% of their own team for $1780.75 or  $890.37 each.  The 2nd place purse was $4192 of which their share was 25% or $1048.00 or $524 each. The "owners" turned out to be syndicate of 10 partners each of who put in $534.23, each getting paid back $314.14. It is interesting to note that the players, even though they came in 2nd lost $366 each, owning only 25% while the "partners" owning 75% lost about $220 each. A little later on we'll point out another interesting tidbit that can happen in a Calcutta Golf Tournament.  

But first let's look at the 1st place purse distribution. Edith and Annika had purchased a 40% share in themselves for $1804.80  or $902.40 each. Their payoff was 40% of $16,768 which comes to  $6707.20 making the individual payoff $3353.60 each. Nice, a cool $2400 profit each. The "owners" were a syndicate of 6 partners and they had put up $2707.20 or $451.2 each. Their payoff was $10060.80 or $1676.80 each or a nice little profit of  $1200.00 each.

Now upon closer look at the syndicates you notice that Edith's husband John Adams and there son John Quincy Adams were part of each winning syndicate and had a strong influence through George the Bartender of the bidding that took place for Rosa Birch and Babe Zaharias. Anyway they walked away netting about a grand each while the 2nd place winners that they owned a part of walked away losing about $300 each. Hmmm.........pretty easy to see how conflicts of interest can arise. Oh yea George the Bartender also owned a piece of both teams and no doubt received a fair gratuity from all involved.

So there you have it, a brief summary on how Calcutta tournaments are run and a little fictional story on how the tournaments shenanigans can play out.  

To learn more about golfing handicaps and wagering continue your search here......

 

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