# Calculating the Handicap Indeces of the Pros

If Tiger Woods played you, how many strokes would he be giving up to make a fair match? The answer may shock you.

You may consider yourself a fine player with your three handicap. Or perhaps you frequently play to your 15 handicap. You may even think that Tiger Woods could spot you a stroke per hole and you’d have a close match.

And you’d be right… if you were the three handicap. And Tiger would still probably win.

We’ve talked about how to calculate your handicap here at The Sand Trap before, but the handicaps of our favorite PGA Tour pros remain a mystery. Sure, we know they’re in the “+” realm (which, oddly enough, means better than scratch while worse-than-scratch golfers have signless handicaps), but how far?

Calculations
PGA Tour courses don’t have established ratings. Pros often play from tees used only in PGA Tour events, the rough is grown extra long and thick, and greens are sped and firmed up. Each of those changes has a dramatic effect on the course rating and slope, making it difficult to ascertain the true nature of a pro’s handicap index. Still, we’ve used available numbers – they may be educated guesses – where no slope or course ratings were available.

Normally we apply a 0.96 multiplier to a person’s average differential in calculating handicaps. This is to help figure in the “potential” of a player. A golfer with an un-adjusted handicap index of 5 becomes a 4.8 index after the 0.96 multiplier is applied. Now, you might think it would make little sense to take a plus-5 handicap to +4.8, but that’s exactly what you do. Why? It’s a small “bonus for excellence.” More on this at the bottom of the article.

At the Top: Tiger Woods
What does it take to be the top golfer in the world? I did a lot of number crunching and came up with this chart and these shocking figures:

```Used |   Date   | Score | CR/Slope | Diff. | Tournament
----     ----     -----   --------   -----   ----------
*  | 01/28/07 |   66  | 78.1/143 |  -9.6 | Buick Invitational
*  | 01/27/07 |   69  | 78.1/143 |  -7.2 | Buick Invitational
| 01/26/07 |   72  | 78.1/143 |  -4.8 | Buick Invitational
| 01/25/07 |   66  | 78.1/143 |  -6.3 | Buick Invitational
*  | 09/04/06 |   63  | 74.8/143 |  -9.3 | Deutsche Bank
| 09/03/06 |   67  | 74.8/143 |  -6.2 | Deutsche Bank
| 09/02/06 |   72  | 74.8/143 |  -2.2 | Deutsche Bank
| 09/01/06 |   66  | 74.8/143 |  -7.0 | Deutsche Bank
| 08/27/06 |   68  | 75.1/128 |  -6.3 | WGC - Bridgestone Inv.
| 08/26/06 |   71  | 75.1/128 |  -3.6 | WGC - Bridgestone Inv.
*  | 08/25/06 |   64  | 75.1/128 |  -9.8 | WGC - Bridgestone Inv.
*  | 08/24/06 |   67  | 75.1/128 |  -7.2 | WGC - Bridgestone Inv.
*  | 08/20/06 |   68  | 78.1/151 |  -7.6 | PGA Championship
*  | 08/19/06 |   65  | 78.1/151 |  -9.8 | PGA Championship
*  | 08/18/06 |   68  | 78.1/151 |  -7.6 | PGA Championship
| 08/17/06 |   69  | 78.1/151 |  -6.8 | PGA Championship
*  | 08/06/06 |   66  | 74.3/133 |  -7.1 | Buick Open
*  | 08/05/06 |   66  | 74.3/133 |  -7.1 | Buick Open
| 08/04/06 |   66  | 74.3/133 |  -7.1 | Buick Open
| 08/03/06 |   66  | 74.3/133 |  -7.1 | Buick Open
----   --------   -----   --------   -----   ----------
Average Differential: -7.0
Best 10 Average Differential: -8.2
Handicap Index: +7.9```

Now, take a deep breath and read that again. +7.9. Tiger’s worst ten differentials average out to -5.7.

Something like 10% of golfers ever reach single digit handicaps. Tiger’s not only done that (while still in the womb, no doubt), but he’s blown through the single digits on the other side of scratch and is in heretofore unexplored territory at +7.9. That may be the single best handicap index ever!

Next in Line: Jim Furyk
The above makes you think, “How close is Jim Furyk to Tiger’s level?” According to the Official World Golf Rankings, Tiger was 11.53 points better (at the end of 2006). But how many strokes would Tiger be giving him if they were playing a handicapped event? Here are Furyk’s numbers:

``` Used |   Date   | Score | CR/Slope | Diff. | Tournament
----     ----     -----   --------   -----   ----------
| 01/14/07 |   69  | 75.1/135 |  -5.1 | Sony Open in Hawaii
| 01/13/07 |   69  | 75.1/135 |  -5.1 | Sony Open in Hawaii
*  | 01/12/07 |   68  | 75.1/135 |  -5.9 | Sony Open in Hawaii
*  | 01/11/07 |   65  | 75.1/135 |  -8.5 | Sony Open in Hawaii
| 01/07/07 |   71  | 75.2/142 |  -3.3 | Mercedes-Benz Champ.
| 01/06/07 |   76  | 75.2/142 |   0.6 | Mercedes-Benz Champ.
| 01/05/07 |   74  | 75.2/142 |  -1.0 | Mercedes-Benz Champ.
| 01/04/07 |   71  | 75.2/142 |  -3.3 | Mercedes-Benz Champ.
*  | 11/05/06 |   65  | 73.9/137 |  -7.3 | THE TOUR Championship
*  | 11/04/06 |   67  | 73.9/137 |  -5.7 | THE TOUR Championship
| 11/03/06 |   71  | 73.9/137 |  -2.4 | THE TOUR Championship
| 11/02/06 |   69  | 73.9/137 |  -4.0 | THE TOUR Championship
*  | 10/15/06 |   66  | 74.3/139 |  -6.7 | Frys.com Open
| 10/14/06 |   70  | 74.3/139 |  -3.5 | Frys.com Open
*  | 10/13/06 |   68  | 74.3/139 |  -5.1 | Frys.com Open
*  | 10/15/06 |   68  | 74.3/139 |  -5.1 | Frys.com Open
*  | 09/10/06 |   65  | 76.4/150 |  -8.6 | Canadian Open
*  | 09/09/06 |   67  | 76.4/150 |  -7.1 | Canadian Open
| 09/08/06 |   71  | 76.4/150 |  -4.1 | Canadian Open
*  | 09/07/06 |   63  | 76.4/150 | -10.1 | Canadian Open
----   --------   -----   --------   -----   ----------
Average Differential: -5.1
Best 10 Average Differential: -7.0
Handicap Index: +6.7```

So it appears that Tiger would have to give Furyk roughly one stroke per round. That is definitely a lot closer than I had thought it would be if I were to go strictly off of the Official World Golf Rankings.

Tour Championship, #30: Tom Pernice, Jr.
So what does it take to get into the top thirty on Tour and into the Tour Championship? I did the same number crunching for Tom Pernice, Jr. (who has been a pro since I was one year old…) and found out he plays to approximately a +4.9 handicap.

``` Used |   Date   | Score | CR/Slope | Diff. | Tournament
----     ----     -----   --------   -----   ----------
| 02/04/07 |   71  | 73.9/131 |  -2.5 | FBR Open
*  | 02/03/07 |   68  | 73.9/131 |  -5.1 | FBR Open
| 02/02/07 |   71  | 73.9/131 |  -2.5 | FBR Open
*  | 02/01/07 |   65  | 73.9/131 |  -7.7 | FBR Open
| 01/26/07 |   73  | 78.1/143 |  -4.0 | Buick Invitational
*  | 01/25/07 |   71  | 78.1/143 |  -5.6 | Buick Invitational
| 01/20/07 |   75  | 72.9/122 |   1.9 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
*  | 01/19/07 |   70  | 75.3/142 |  -4.2 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
| 01/18/07 |   78  | 74.6/140 |   2.7 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
| 01/17/07 |   72  | 73.1/137 |  -0.9 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
*  | 01/12/07 |   70  | 75.1/135 |  -4.3 | Sony Open in Hawaii
| 01/11/07 |   72  | 75.1/135 |  -2.6 | Sony Open in Hawaii
*  | 11/05/06 |   69  | 73.9/137 |  -4.0 | THE TOUR Championship
*  | 11/04/06 |   67  | 73.9/137 |  -5.7 | THE TOUR Championship
| 11/03/06 |   72  | 73.9/137 |  -1.6 | THE TOUR Championship
*  | 11/02/06 |   69  | 73.9/137 |  -4.0 | THE TOUR Championship
*  | 10/29/06 |   69  | 75.6/140 |  -5.3 | Chrysler Championship
| 10/28/06 |   72  | 75.6/140 |  -2.9 | Chrysler Championship
| 10/27/06 |   74  | 75.6/140 |  -1.3 | Chrysler Championship
*  | 10/26/06 |   69  | 75.6/140 |  -5.3 | Chrysler Championship
----   --------   -----   --------   -----   ----------
Average Differential: -3.2
Best 10 Average Differential: -5.1
Handicap Index: +4.9```

Barely Keeping the Card: J.P. Hayes
What about the “just scraping by” category? What would it take for us Joes to just barely keep our card (and earn over half a million dollars)? I found J.P. Hayes had just barely kept his card in 2006 and according to the numbers it would take a +4.0 index to be in his position.

``` Used |   Date   | Score | CR/Slope | Diff. | Tournament
----     ----     -----   --------   -----   ----------
| 02/04/07 |   76  | 73.9/131 |   1.8 | FBR Open
| 02/03/07 |   72  | 73.9/131 |  -1.6 | FBR Open
*  | 02/02/07 |   69  | 73.9/131 |  -4.2 | FBR Open
*  | 02/01/07 |   69  | 73.9/131 |  -4.2 | FBR Open
*  | 01/28/07 |   69  | 78.1/143 |  -7.2 | Buick Invitational
*  | 01/27/07 |   73  | 78.1/143 |  -4.0 | Buick Invitational
*  | 01/21/07 |   70  | 75.3/142 |  -4.2 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
| 01/20/07 |   73  | 74.6/140 |  -1.3 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
| 01/19/07 |   73  | 73.1/137 |  -0.1 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
| 01/18/07 |   71  | 72.9/122 |  -1.8 | Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.
*  | 10/15/06 |   68  | 74.3/139 |  -5.1 | Frys.com Open
| 10/14/06 |   72  | 74.3/139 |  -1.9 | Frys.com Open
| 10/08/06 |   73  | 74.1/135 |  -0.9 | Chrysler Cl. of Greensboro
| 10/07/06 |   75  | 74.1/135 |   0.8 | Chrysler Cl. of Greensboro
| 10/06/06 |   72  | 74.1/135 |  -1.8 | Chrysler Cl. of Greensboro
*  | 10/05/06 |   70  | 74.1/135 |  -3.4 | Chrysler Cl. of Greensboro
*  | 10/01/06 |   68  | 72.1/139 |  -3.3 | S. Farm Bureau Cl.
*  | 09/30/06 |   68  | 72.1/139 |  -3.3 | S. Farm Bureau Cl.
*  | 09/29/06 |   68  | 72.1/139 |  -3.3 | S. Farm Bureau Cl.
| 09/28/06 |   73  | 72.1/139 |   0.7 | S. Farm Bureau Cl.
----   --------   -----   --------   -----   ----------
Average Differential: -2.4
Best 10 Average Differential: -4.2
Handicap Index: +4.0```

Closing Thoughts
In looking at the numbers I find myself in awe. I really can’t believe the numbers I’ve posted above. They really show that, “These guys are good.” It also makes me realize how good you really have to be to make it on Tour. An index of +4.0 just to barely keep your card. I guess I only have to shave eleven or twelve strokes off of my index to make it.

Now that makes you think… if an index of +4.0 still earns a guy six figures… what would it take to make a living out of playing golf? Do you even have to be on the PGA Tour to make a living at it?

As a couple astute readers of my column pointed out, the original numbers in my article looked a little suspect. Instead of multiplying by the course rating then dividing by 113 (the average course slope in the U.S.), I had done it the other way around thinking this made the most sense for calculating a pros handicap. How very wrong I was…

Upon emailing the USGA and posing the same question to them, they came back stating the formula doesn’t change, no matter your handicap or professional status. Therefore, all numbers within this article have been updated to reflect the correct numbers. I apologize for the error on my part, and will be sure to do this type of research before I publish my article.

## 27 thoughts on “Calculating the Handicap Indeces of the Pros”

1. David, good research and interesting stuff. However, might I point out some math: `1.2 * 4 = 4.8`. Tiger would have to spot Jim Furyk five strokes over the course of a standard stroke-play tournament, and that’s the guy in second place.

Handicaps at this level are undoubtedly rather fickle. Pros get into streaks of shooting 68 every day and then a month later they’re shooting 73s (well, most pros anyway), but I still find the numbers fascinating.

And there’s nothing “close” about a 1.2-stroke differential. That’s huuuuuuuge.

2. Very interesting, Dave. And Erik is right, the difference between Tiger and Furyk (one my favorite players) is enormous. Jim’s essentially spotting Tiger five shots an event. While Furyk can make a handsome living as a +6.7, it sure makes it hard to collect victories when Tiger is in the field.

The other amazing thing about these handicaps to me as that they’re establishing these on a different course with different conditions every week. There are a lot of guys who can go low (see the Nationwide Tour), but there sure aren’t many who can average these kinds of scores week in and week out.

I can think of few other sports where one’s income is such a survival of the fittest contest pushing the limits of what’s humanly possible.

3. Good article, David!

To be a +4.0 just to keep your card is remarkable. What I also found most interesting is not that Tiger is good (no kidding) but that the handicap index difference between #30 (Pernice) vs. barely making it (Hayes) is only +0.9.

Some other points to ponder: What is the handicap index needed to compete on the Nationwide Tour and can you make a living playing just on that tour alone? Or is what the handicap index is between an elite college player and the “worst” Nationwide player?

4. Randy says:

Wow, I had never given that much thought before. It just goes to show you that those guys really are “good”. Great job researching this article. I don’t know how much you are getting paid but you deserve a raise!!!!! RJ

5. Jeff says:

Very interesting article, David. Definitely worth the read.

6. Hey everyone,

Thanks for the comments on the article everyone. Let’s see if I can reply to everyone in one reply π

The other amazing thing about these handicaps to me as that they’re establishing these on a different course with different conditions every week.

That is one of the other things that actually struck me as well. Yeah I get to play more than just my home course to establish my index, but I’m not playing across the country every week. I would think jet lag would be an issue for these guys.

Good article, David!

To be a +6.75 just to keep your card is remarkable. What I also found most interesting is not that Tiger is good (no kidding) but that the handicap index difference between #30 (Pernice) vs. barely making it (Hayes) is only +.54.

Thanks Alan! Great observations also. I hope to get more into this whole pro handicap issue a bit more in depth as this article is really just scratching the surface. You actually touched on a couple of the items in your comments π

Wow, I had never given that much thought before. It just goes to show you that those guys really are “good”. Great job researching this article. I don’t know how much you are getting paid but you deserve a raise!!!!! RJ

Mr. Randy is a co-worker of mine. You can ignore his incessant ramblings π

Very interesting article, David. Definitely worth the read.

Thanks Jeff. Hopefully the next one will be just a little bit better π

7. Fascinating work Dave. Understanding handicaps does the best job of indicating how good players actually are. These guys are not only good, they’re insanely good. Thanks for doing the foot-work!

8. If that doesn’t keep you humble, I don’t know what will… Great research. Guess we can’t call these guys sandbaggers!

9. Steve says:

David,

That was a great article!

One concern, though. The handicap indexes you presented may be inflated (or “deflated” being on the “plus” side) since you multiplied by the slope and divided by 113. The USGA formula multiplies by 113 and divides by the slope, regardless of whether a handicap differential is above or below zero. I have a GHIN-based handicap with a number of positive and negative differentials, and the formula used is the same for both.

No matter where the actual numbers fall, they’re still lower than most could even dream about!

10. Miles Dowsett says:

Gosh! What an amazing fact! Great article too!

I feel like a humble beginner!

11. Steve says:

Referring back to my previous comment, when you apply the actual USGA formula, using the rounds that you listed, you would end up with the following:

Tiger: +8.1

Furyk: +6.7

Pernice: +4.9

Hayes: +4.1

For Pernice, I used an additional round as there were only 9 indicated.

For Hayes, I dropped off the last round that you used, as there were 11 indicated.

For Tiger, I replaced the 67 he shot on 9/3/06 with the 66 on 1/25/07 (you have 1/27/07 listed twice) as it results in a lower differential.

But like you said, it’s almost impossible to compute an actual “handicap index” for the PGA players for the reasons you listed.

Regardless of whether Tiger is a +8 or a +13, the numbers are all relative.

12. Steve says:

My guess is that it has to do with the USGA’s “bonus for excellence”, giving lower handicap and scratch golfers better odds in handicap events.

I did find some more interesting info on this subject, though. Not sure how to insert a link, but go to http://www.popeofslope.com. Under the section dealing with sandbagging, check out the article listed as “Bill Gates caught Sandbagging”. Very interesting article! At the end of the article, Dean is responding to a reader’s comments, and it states that in 1995 Greg Norman’s play equated to a plus 7.5. He also goes on to say that the average tour player is a plus 3.5.

I’m not sure of the exact time frame for the plus 3.5 comment. But based on this, the plus 4.1 I computed for the player barely holding on to his tour card seems reasonable. Norman’s 7.5 also compares favorably with the 8.1 and 6.7 I computed for Tiger and Furyk, respectively.

13. Michael says:

You ask at the end of the article:
[W]hat would it take to make a living out of playing golf? Do you even have to be on the PGA Tour to make a living at it?

I don’t think you have to be on the PGA Tour to make a living at playing golf. Even if you aren’t in the top 125 for a given year, you probably earned enough to get yourself back to form, and can probably earn enough to stay afloat between endorsements and other tours (or even PGA Monday Qualifying).

It should be possible to do some analysis like this for Nationwide Tour money list from 2006. Problem is, I don’t know if, say, \$35,769 (125 on 2006 Nationwide money list) is enough to make a living, since it is only official winnings, and counts neither expenses (caddy, transportation, etc) nor endorsements.

Still, it might be interesting to check the handicap on the Nationwide Tour, and perhaps also for the Grey Goose/Gateway and Hooters/NGA tours, as they pay out seemingly good money to their top players.

I’m willing to lend a hand in determining scores and handicaps if there’s interest.

14. Michael: It may come to that because for us normal amateurs who count our competitive successes in weekly Nassaus or decimal lowerings of our handicaps, it is very hard to relate to the many, many good players who are out there.

Marty Strumpf, my pro, (who posts here occasionally) pointed out something very interesting to me some time ago. If you subscribe to Golfweek magazine, every week they list results of virtually any competition going on in the US (and some other parts of the world).

When you look at those final scoring listings and see all these players posting sub 70 rounds over three or four rounds – and see how many are doing so – and see how little money they earn – it gives you a better perspective on what “good” really means.

Whether David’s initial calculations are valid or not, they are close enough to conclude that most of us can’t fathom how good the players on the PGA Tour really are. They’re supposed to be playing the same game we are. But they’re not.

15. D Vendetti says:

In the January 2001 issue of Golf Digest, pg 19, GD had report that based on Tiger’s then recent tournament rounds played at the Western Open, Buick Open, PGA Championship, WGC-NEC Invitational and Bell Canadian Open. I’m sure youΓΒ’Γ’βΒ¬Γ’βΒ’re aware that in 2000, Tiger was arguably playing some of his best golf ever. The scores indicated in the article indicated score of 65,64,65,72,67,67,61,64,67,70,67,66,68,67,70,70,72,70,69,70.

Based on the story, Tiger’s handicap calculated to a USGA handicap index of +8.1. It is implied in this article that Dean Knuth, the highly regarded former USGA handicap chairman, tallied these results for this article. Dean indicated that prior to Tiger coming on the scene, the previous best handicap index was that of Greg Norman with a +7.6. Dean also indicated that during the 2000 US Open in which may have played his best tournament ever, his handicap index played at a plus 12 this week. Details were not provided.

David’s numbers seem to me to be a little hokey. His 0.96 factor is not explained with any depth. Another shortcoming I see is that David indicates for Tiger’s rounds at the Buick Invitational, the course index is 78.1/143 for all 4 days of competition. The fact of the matter is for the first 2 days of competition, all pros play both the South Course (i.e., Torrey Pines) that has this index/slope rating. However, the much easier North Course has an index/slope rating of 72.1/129 that is not reflected in your calculations.

How many other errors of omission are there in your numbers?

David, I think we all know how great the pro’s are playing golf. But I think your numbers are just a little exaggerated. Don’t you think? I’ll stick with Dean’s Knuth calculations.

16. David’s numbers seem to me to be a little hokey. His 0.96 factor is not explained with any depth.

I don’t think David felt compelled to explain what’s common knowledge – you multiply by 0.96. Whether or not he should have flipped it really makes very little difference. It’s 4%.

David, I think we all know how great the pro’s are playing golf. But I think your numbers are just a little exaggerated. Don’t you think? I’ll stick with Dean’s Knuth calculations.

It appears as though you’ve failed to read any of the comments, in which we discuss the possible (likely?) error David made in calculating handicaps: flipping the slope and the 113 standard. Though it seems odd to me that shooting a 66 on a 78.1-rated course with a slope higher than 113 results in an +9 handicap, that seems to be what the USGA says – and is something David is looking into for possible correction.

17. Ken says:

In the January 2001 issue of Golf Digest, pg 19, GD had report that based on Tiger’s then recent tournament rounds played at the Western Open, Buick Open, PGA Championship, WGC-NEC Invitational and Bell Canadian Open.

I tend to agree with that analysis, not to take away from how good those guys really are. Is that you, Dom, who we had dinner with in Ohio, a few years back? Good wine and conversation, torrential rains, tornado warning and all? Then again in Orlando?

18. Very good article. It’s bad enough to watch them on TV and see how good they are, but when you put the numbers down on paper it’s mind blowing!

Regards,
Tyler

19. Justin says:

David, good research and interesting stuff. However, might I point out some math: `1.2 * 4 = 4.8`. Tiger would have to spot Jim Furyk five strokes over the course of a standard stroke-play tournament, and that’s the guy in second place.

I’m sorry to say this. BUT THIS IS THE MOST RETARDED COMMENT I HAVE EVER READ. Have you actually read this and thought about it?? Tiger Woods could not give a decent junior college player 28 strokes a round and win. Tiger is my idol, but that is just dumb. That would mean he should win by 28 strokes per round against the “barely keeping the tour card” player. Which on his best day he might beat him by 10 at most. I’m not even sure where you got the numbers from. His index is roughly 1.5 lower than Furyk’s..which means he would give him 1.5 strokes per round. NOT 8!! Tiger is **** good…but give me a break.

20. I’m sorry to say this. BUT THIS IS THE MOST RETARDED COMMENT I HAVE EVER READ. Have you actually read this and thought about it?? Tiger Woods could not give a decent junior college player 28 strokes a round and win. Tiger is my idol, but that is just dumb. That would mean he should win by 28 strokes per round against the “barely keeping the tour card” player. Which on his best day he might beat him by 10 at most. I’m not even sure where you got the numbers from. His index is roughly 1.2 lower than Furyk’s..which means he would give him 1.2 strokes per round. NOT 5!! Tiger is **** good…but give me a break.

I don’t generally call other people – or their comments – retarded, but might I suggest you learn to read before calling my comment retarded? I said “over the course of a standard stroke-play tournament.” That’s four rounds. 1.2 * 4 = 4.8 strokes.

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22. Dirk Dasterdly says:

I’m sorry to say this. BUT THIS IS THE MOST RETARDED COMMENT I HAVE EVER READ. Have you actually read this and thought about it?? Tiger Woods could not give a decent junior college player 28 strokes a round and win. Tiger is my idol, but that is just dumb. That would mean he should win by 28 strokes per round against the “barely keeping the tour card” player. Which on his best day he might beat him by 10 at most. I’m not even sure where you got the numbers from. His index is roughly 1.5 lower than Furyk’s..which means he would give him 1.5 strokes per round. NOT 8!! Tiger is **** good…but give me a break.

How could someone have so many mistakes in one short post?? Perhaps you should have lead with “THIS IS THE MOST RETARDED COMMENT I’VE EVER POSTED.”

First, he didn’t contend he should get 5 strokes per round. He said in a four round tournament, 1.2*4=5-ish…very typical. In fact, he often wins by more.

To give about 4 strokes per round to the guy who barely kept his card is 16 strokes per tournament. Again, very reasonable and in fact probably not generous enough! Realize that you rarely see the lowest guy’s score on tv. Also realize that the guy who’s struggling probably played so bad on day one that he didn’t make the cut. Imagine the range of scores if they let all who started finish all four rounds. I’m sure the highest scores would be much higher. The worst score of the tournament is the worst of the 70 or so BEST people in the field (based on day one’s result).

The handicap score is also supposed to show generally what a player could shoot if he was having a reasonably good day. The average of the 10 best, and then made a little better by x.96 Realize that the handicap, then, is actually not as good as the best score used the calculation. To get a handicap a little better than the average of 10 good rounds would imply that at + handicaps, you’d probably divide by .96 as the poster did.

Also, you have to realize the finite goodness of any player. A perfect score in golf is an 18 (I think you’re required by rule to take at least one stroke per hole). A more usable gauge would be the lowest score ever shot on each of the 18 holes, because that’s an acheivable score. In any event, then there’s an expected best like a course record (which is occasionally broken). What’s the course record at your course? Would Tiger break it on day one? Eventually? We have a few holes that a 350yrd drive would put it right up next to the green, but the landing area is so narrow (water and bunkers) that it’s not the smart play. (Almost every green on our course is small, elevated, and protected.) Tiger would probably hit the 270 yrd shot like us mortals and then hit (with great precision) the 100 yrd pitch with the 6′ birdie putt.

That’s still 3 strokes though.

I’m glad I found the original article. I was always curious what Tiger would shoot on our course. Based on the 8.1, I think it would be about 64 (par 71, 72.1/133). And, it makes sense that for +handicaps that you’d flip the slope. +8.1 x 133 / 113 = 9.5? Why would Tiger shoot better than the 8.1 on a course that’s harder?

Finally, I think it’s not an exact predictor. I shoot the same score from the blues and I do from the whites despite the different ratings. My drives are plenty long. 300yd drives really have no place. It’s my game under 70 yds that gives me problems…and the drives into the woods (narrow, tree-lined fairways). Tiger’s long drives wouldn’t give him any advantage on our 6700 yd course. His smart bomb precision irons and homing pigeon putts, however, would come in handy.

23. Philip Nunn says:

His smart bomb precision irons and homing pigeon putts, however, would come in handy.

Playing some “Worms Armageddon” are we? Your analogy made me crack up π

24. Loshbaugh says:

AH! This is the sort of thing I have been looking for. Great article. Doing some research for an article. You should add buttons to the bottom of your posts to social bookmarking sitest.

25. Ramuh says:

My question is, the slope and CRs that your article uses, are those the standard ones for everyday conditions or are they “adjusted” to compensate for the far increased difficulty of the tour tracks such as thick rough, narrow fairways, faster-firmer greens etc?

Bethpage Black for instance is rated 76.6/148, however under U.S. Open conditions anything less than a course rating of eighty would be quite surprising to me.

26. Barry says:

Hello I golf at the same course all the time. I have a 5 handicap with a 4.1 index. I know the 10 scores that it uses to calculate the handicap and the index. The question is that I entered a 75 and a 75 was dropped but the index went from a 4.0 to a 4.1, would there be a reason for this. Thanks