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SamCreamer

Keeping an official handicap

14 posts in this topic

Hey guys,

Just wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction. I'd like to start having an official handicap, mine isn't official, I just estimate that I usually shoot around 87 (+15). I see some posters have what seem to be programs calculating their handicaps for them. I know I could google this but I prefer to get insight from you guys who know a lot about this.

Thanks!

Sam

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Most golf courses have a computer on-site to setup a handicap and enter your scores.  There is an annual fee, but it's cheap.  A lot of the courses now have websites that allow you to enter your scores online too.  Just ask someone in the proshop next time you play.

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First of all, to get an official handicap, at least under the USGA (and I presume the Canadian equivalent has a similar process), you have to go through a local club. You can't simply calculate it and call it official. Without a club signing off on it, you won't be able to use the handicap index for entering tournaments (or demonstrating a good enough handicap to play the Old Course at St Andrews).

If you just want to use the correct calculation, there are plenty of websites (e.g., oobgolf.com off the top of my head) that will let you enter scores and calculate the correct handicap index value for you. There are also stand-alone programs, such as Scorecard (written by the guy behind this site), which can perform that calculation.

These are generally accurate (although not always perfect, I've found minor calculation bugs in several; the rules are somewhat tricky, particularly about rounding), but not official . They're fine for my purpose, though, which is just tracking my progress with a common measure.

(How do I measure myself against other golfers? By height.)

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I use oobgolf for an unofficial handicap. It's great for keeping stats, if you can remember to do so lol.

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Originally Posted by zeg

First of all, to get an official handicap, at least under the USGA (and I presume the Canadian equivalent has a similar process), you have to go through a local club. You can't simply calculate it and call it official. Without a club signing off on it, you won't be able to use the handicap index for entering tournaments (or demonstrating a good enough handicap to play the Old Course at St Andrews).

If you just want to use the correct calculation, there are plenty of websites (e.g., oobgolf.com off the top of my head) that will let you enter scores and calculate the correct handicap index value for you. There are also stand-alone programs, such as Scorecard (written by the guy behind this site), which can perform that calculation.

These are generally accurate (although not always perfect, I've found minor calculation bugs in several; the rules are somewhat tricky, particularly about rounding), but not official. They're fine for my purpose, though, which is just tracking my progress with a common measure.

(How do I measure myself against other golfers? By height.)


Yes, I have recently signed up to become a member of Golf Canada which is $40 a year, comes with a membership card and allows you to keep an official handicap for entering tournaments. Just wasn't sure how to calculate it ^^ Now that I'll be joining a club next year, I'll certainly begin to keep my handicap officially, thanks everyone!

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Originally Posted by SamCreamer

Yes, I have recently signed up to become a member of Golf Canada which is $40 a year, comes with a membership card and allows you to keep an official handicap for entering tournaments. Just wasn't sure how to calculate it ^^ Now that I'll be joining a club next year, I'll certainly begin to keep my handicap officially, thanks everyone!


Ah, well, in that case you probably need to submit your scores to the club (perhaps via computer at the course, that's how it's usually done here, I believe) and they'll do the computation for you. If you look around on the USGA site under "handicapping," you can find the rules for the US, which are probably similar or the same as Canada, although the procedure in Europe is rather different. I'm sure the Canadian folks have a similar rule book.

Estimating by subtracting par from your typical score is generally not an accurate way to guess your handicap index. You need to find out the rating and slope of the course. In the US, the method is as follows. Take your most recent 20 scores (assuming all are 18 hole rounds). For each score, compute its differential as (score-rating)*113/slope. You now have your 20 most recent differentials. Keep the best 10 of these and average them. Multiply that average by 0.96 and then truncate to a single decimal place. This is your handicap index.

Note that the last step is truncation---dropping all but the first digit after the decimal place---not rounding. This is a common error I've found in handicap index calculators. So if your index works out to 15.199 you truncate it to 15.1, you don't round it to 15.2.

This number will probably be lower than your typical score relative to par, though it depends on the difficulty of the course and how consistent your scores are. When it comes time to use your handicap index, you have to convert it to a course handicap by multiplying by slope/113. If you add this to the rating, it gives you the score that is your net par for the course. Usually the clubhouse has a sheet with pre-calculated course handicaps for various handicap indexes, which can help if you're not mathematically inclined or if you didn't happen to bring your calculator to the course.

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Originally Posted by zeg

First of all, to get an official handicap, at least under the USGA (and I presume the Canadian equivalent has a similar process), you have to go through a local club. You can't simply calculate it and call it official. Without a club signing off on it, you won't be able to use the handicap index for entering tournaments (or demonstrating a good enough handicap to play the Old Course at St Andrews).

It may depend on what state you're in, but in Florida, you don't have to be a member of a golf club to get a ghin# and handicap.  You can purchase a handicap through the state association (FSGA) without even being a paying member.  You have to pay $50 annually to be a full member and be eligible for tournaments and whatnot, but I don't believe you have to be a full member to get your handicap.

I guess technically the FSGA is a "golf club" by USGA standards, but the way the OP was written, it sound like you have to belong to a country club to get a handicap.  It may be that way in some states or areas that don't have online or other low cost associations (golf clubs by USGA definition only).

If I'm wrong then please, someone correct me, but I've recently gone through the process of figuring out how to get a handicap myself.  I waited a couple weeks until July1st to save $15 on the fee and my HCP wont officially post until the 15th, but I've got a ghin# and have posted enough scores already to calculate a HCP when that day comes.

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Originally Posted by zeg

Ah, well, in that case you probably need to submit your scores to the club (perhaps via computer at the course, that's how it's usually done here, I believe) and they'll do the computation for you. If you look around on the USGA site under "handicapping," you can find the rules for the US, which are probably similar or the same as Canada, although the procedure in Europe is rather different. I'm sure the Canadian folks have a similar rule book.

Estimating by subtracting par from your typical score is generally not an accurate way to guess your handicap index. You need to find out the rating and slope of the course. In the US, the method is as follows. Take your most recent 20 scores (assuming all are 18 hole rounds). For each score, compute its differential as (score-rating)*113/slope. You now have your 20 most recent differentials. Keep the best 10 of these and average them. Multiply that average by 0.96 and then truncate to a single decimal place. This is your handicap index.

Note that the last step is truncation---dropping all but the first digit after the decimal place---not rounding. This is a common error I've found in handicap index calculators. So if your index works out to 15.199 you truncate it to 15.1, you don't round it to 15.2.

This number will probably be lower than your typical score relative to par, though it depends on the difficulty of the course and how consistent your scores are. When it comes time to use your handicap index, you have to convert it to a course handicap by multiplying by slope/113. If you add this to the rating, it gives you the score that is your net par for the course. Usually the clubhouse has a sheet with pre-calculated course handicaps for various handicap indexes, which can help if you're not mathematically inclined or if you didn't happen to bring your calculator to the course.


Ah I see, so from what I see from that function, your official handicap should actually be slightly lower than par-average score. Cool, I will certainly look into this. Now that you say that they do it automatically at clubs, I'm almost positive that they'll have some kind of way of us to enter our scores there. Thanks a lot for the explanation, I was unclear on exactly how it was calculated. Also, I didn't know that you took only your 10 best, which also lowers it ^^.

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Originally Posted by SamCreamer

Ah I see, so from what I see from that function, your official handicap should actually be slightly lower than par-average score. Cool, I will certainly look into this. Now that you say that they do it automatically at clubs, I'm almost positive that they'll have some kind of way of us to enter our scores there. Thanks a lot for the explanation, I was unclear on exactly how it was calculated. Also, I didn't know that you took only your 10 best, which also lowers it ^^.

I found this to be true when I had enough scores to calculate amy first handicap.  My score "to par" averaged something in the 16-18 range (88-90 or so on a par 72) but my HCP was calculated to 12.7.  Seems like a pretty drastic difference, but I had been playing some fairly tough courses, and because of who I was playing with, playing on some of the longer tees.  I didn't manually calculate this, I used an iphone app called hdcpTracker or something like that, so I think it's pretty safe to assume that's just how the handicap calculation works out

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Originally Posted by dpgator33

It may depend on what state you're in, but in Florida, you don't have to be a member of a golf club to get a ghin# and handicap.  You can purchase a handicap through the state association (FSGA) without even being a paying member.  You have to pay $50 annually to be a full member and be eligible for tournaments and whatnot, but I don't believe you have to be a full member to get your handicap.

I guess technically the FSGA is a "golf club" by USGA standards, but the way the OP was written, it sound like you have to belong to a country club to get a handicap.  It may be that way in some states or areas that don't have online or other low cost associations (golf clubs by USGA definition only).

If I'm wrong then please, someone correct me, but I've recently gone through the process of figuring out how to get a handicap myself.  I waited a couple weeks until July1st to save $15 on the fee and my HCP wont officially post until the 15th, but I've got a ghin# and have posted enough scores already to calculate a HCP when that day comes.

It's not a function of state, it's a USGA requirement that you be part of a "local club." As you've pointed out, this does not mean a country club, but it does need to be geographically local. The full definition is here (http://www.usga.org/handicapping/get_handicap/Definition-Of-A-Golf-Club/). It defines three classes of clubs: 1) what we might traditionally think of as a golf club---one tied to a course, be it a private course like a country club or a club that's homed at a public course; 2) an offshoot of a non-golf organization, such as an Elks lodge or a university club that exists independently of the golf aspects; and 3) a group that's solicited from the general public and has no other connection. The FGSA sounds like the latter, and I believe Golfsmith provides similar services in many areas.

The "local" is explicitly required---in the first class, this is obvious simply because it's homed at a particular course. In the other two classes, members must "generally" live within 50 miles of the official location of the club. The members in the club must also play with other members at least three times per season to maintain membership.

So unless I'm missing something, if the "club" is really just selling a handicap index without the various other requirements, it probably is not a USGA sanctioned handicap index, and wouldn't be official.

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Hello - I use www.thegrint.com - i like it because is free and it let's you send a picture of your scorecard, and they upload the score for you. but if you play like in official USGA tournaments and stuff and need an official USGA handicap look for ghin.com and find what is the regional association that would issue it for you

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I use myscorecard.com if you join a local club on it and get the premium membership I believe you can get an official card.
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Quote:
It may depend on what state you're in, but in Florida, you don't have to be a member of a golf club to get a ghin# and handicap.

+1 on GHIN.  I joined through a course I play a lot.  But I enter all scores on the GHIN website.  Very convenient.  If you only play nine, it will group two nine hole rounds into one 18 even if they are not on the same course.  then your home course can print out a card with your HC once you have enough scores.

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Quote:
First of all, to get an official handicap, at least under the USGA (and I presume the Canadian equivalent has a similar process), you have to go through a local club.

There are online clubs.  I used http://myscorecard.com and joined my local online club.  I am able to get an official handicap through the site.  There are some rules which have to be followed by the online club (such as establishing bylaws and a handicap committee) and they are subject to audit by the USGA, but they're not really hard to do.

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