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Handicaps and playing the same course over...and over....and over and over


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I know a few guys who are very good players ( ie. close to scratch ) but their rounds consist of a high percentage playing on their home course.....ie. they play 60 rounds a year, but 50 of them are on their home track - which are the best scores given they know it back to front

Do you think this is a slight loophole in the handicap system?

If a low handicap player plays 60 different courses every year, and another guy plays the same course 60 times a year, it's obvious who's handicap will most likely improve

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Excellent point – I am nowhere near a scratch golfer but due to the familiar surroundings of my regular course I regularly shoot lower there than I do elsewhere. Reckon that will be the case for most. In answer to your question, it could indeed be a slight loophole in the handicap system.

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Loophole? Sure.

Will they be embarrassed when they tell their partner they are a 5 handicap and play an "away" course and shoot a 90?

I'm not too familiar with the handicap system becoming "official", but I would imagine someone would catch on after a while.

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Originally Posted by Mattplusness

Loophole? Sure.

Will they be embarrassed when they tell their partner they are a 5 handicap and play an "away" course and shoot a 90?

I'm not too familiar with the handicap system becoming "official", but I would imagine someone would catch on after a while.



If your scores are honest and you're playing from the correct tees, should there be any bias in your index? For some players I suppose it might, if the course suits their game better than any others in the area. I currently have the opposite problem. I shoot better every where else but my home course. There's not one score from there in my current index. I anticipate losing a couple matches before my index corrects itself or I learn to play that course better.

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Mots good players I know around can't travel well.  I know a couple guys that are good for 68 -72 on their home track any given day.  When we go on a road trip they always have some reason they shot 83.  I am fortunate,  I shoot about the same numbers regardless of where I play or if the course is difficult or easy.  Golf is at least 90% mental and my comfort zone is well intact, too damned intact if you asked me!

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I think that there is some truth to what the OP is suggesting. Knowing the safe places to miss, the location hazards, feeling confident about what lies ahead... it all helps me score a bit lower at home.

Often times some of the strokes on new course come from not know how the fairway runs sidehill into a hazard or waste area, or being unfamiliar with distances and the depth of the green.  I'll almost always shoot 3 or 4 strokes above my average at home when playing a course for the first time.

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Slope is supposed to equalize differences in the courses themselves but nothing compensates for the experience of knowing a course.  So yes, it is a characteristic of the handicap system (I hesitate to use the term loophole).  However, if one accepts the premise that a player will generally shoot higher on an "away" course then it places them at a disadvantage when playing away from their home course - i.e. their handicap is too low. If it were reversed - their handicap was too high at an away course - then I'd call it a loophole because it would give them an unfair advantage.  I guess the lesson would be for a golfer to ensure that he played enough away rounds to compensate for the normal home course advantage in his handicap.

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My personal experience is that I don't play all that different on different courses. If I'm on a course I've never played before, the score will probably reflect it since I don't know how the holes look, but regardless of how well you know your home course, you still have to hit good shots all the time to be a scratch player.

I don't really see why this is a problem either. If anything, it gives them a disadvantage if they venture to other courses and play in tournaments or for money.

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A good player will be able to make more use of course knowledge than most but even for the average golfer it will count for something.

You just cannot go to a new course, survey the lay of the land from the tee box and expect to hit optimal shots. You'll get up to your ball and actually find that the fairway opened out on the other side, that there is a hollow which presents a difficult lie, that the green on a dog leg was better approached from the other side of the fairway. You'll be 100 yards out from the hole and not be able to tell which way the green slopes or see where the danger lies behind or to the side. You'll hit your chip or long putt and misread the borrow but know for again.

I think it is fair to say that most players who play in professional tournaments have a very good idea about course management prior to the round. They remember how putts break from previous visits or have some idea based on research by the caddy. For those of us that don't have a caddy we play ad hoc and it's going to cost us strokes even on some good strokes.

The course I played tonight was fairly new to me. I misread at least 2 putts which cost me a 'chance of birdie' but I'll know for again. I misjudged a couple of approach shots but it's been duly noted. Had I dropped a ball and selected the appropriate club or reset the putts I'd probably have saved a couple more shots.

it's all about knowledge really.

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It may or may not be an issue, depending on one's skill level and style of play.  An aggressive player is going to play better on a familiar track because he knows its pitfalls.  Playing the same style when he doesn't know what around the next bend is going to put him in trouble more often that it will on his home course.

However, a player who uses good course management techniques would not see as large a swing simply because he won't take chances as often on either course, and is more likely to stay out of serious trouble on the new course.  I shot exactly to my handicap last Sunday on a course which I've played 5 times in the last 25 years, so although it has a vague familiarity, I certainly don't remember where the trouble spots are if I can't see them.  As a result I mostly planned my play so that I never hit the ball beyond where I could see.  It paid off well for me.

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The handicap system does not have a "Local Knowledge" factor built in. To be honest a scratch at a home course and a scratch that travels are two different animals. The traveling scratch is a better golfer as the scratch is earned over a variety of situations and tests of golf.

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This is an excellent topic and I am amazed that it hasn't come up many times before.  I have been on another Forum for 5 years and I thought I'd give Sand trap a try for a while because the content quality was going down on the other Forum.  I truly believe that playing the same course gives you a false reading on your index.  I know it does for me.  I could fill in my score on the first tee at my home course.  When I play elsewhere, I am usually 3 or 4 strokes higher.  Not only do I play my home course many times per year, but being retired, I work a couple of shifts per week as a Ranger.  I know the course so well that I know where the "Homes" of all the Chipmunks are.

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Jeez, I'm thinking golf is hard enough on any course at anytime to worry too much about if a handicap is off because you know the track too well.  Don't get me wrong it's a valid point, but you still have to play the game consistently for it to count either way.

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I play more than half my rounds (Summer) on one course and spend Winter in a warmer place and play various courses.  My experience is that my handicap tends to go up in the Summer and down in the Winter.  Not a lot but one or two strokes.  So I guess I am the odd ball here.  The "home" course is great but there are some holes that just don't fit my game or eye as they say.   So it ain't necessarily so that playing  a majority of rounds on one course will decrease your handicap index.  Just depends upon the course and the player.

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Regardless of knowing ahead of time what side of the fairway to be on for your next shot, you still have to make that shot.  If you can't make that shot consistently then being on your home course doesn't make as much of a difference.  I do think being familiar with a course has advantages but I think it still comes down to your ability.  So, I guess I would say a handicap is fairly accurate regardless of the course when you're a high handicap such as myself and home courses come into play when you're scores are lower.

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Originally Posted by ghalfaire

I play more than half my rounds (Summer) on one course and spend Winter in a warmer place and play various courses.  My experience is that my handicap tends to go up in the Summer and down in the Winter.  Not a lot but one or two strokes.  So I guess I am the odd ball here.  The "home" course is great but there are some holes that just don't fit my game or eye as they say.   So it ain't necessarily so that playing  a majority of rounds on one course will decrease your handicap index.  Just depends upon the course and the player.


Actually I can understand this.  I sometimes get too lackadaisical on my home course.  I'm too familiar with it, so sometimes I lose focus during the round, something which rarely happens on a strange course.

My scores tend to vary more with the difficulty of the course than they do with familiarity or lack thereof.

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Originally Posted by BrushCaddy

Regardless of knowing ahead of time what side of the fairway to be on for your next shot, you still have to make that shot.  If you can't make that shot consistently then being on your home course doesn't make as much of a difference.  I do think being familiar with a course has advantages but I think it still comes down to your ability.  So, I guess I would say a handicap is fairly accurate regardless of the course when you're a high handicap such as myself and home courses come into play when you're scores are lower.



This is a very good point. Having to make the shot, and knowing what shot you're supposed to play are different things.

But when it comes down to lower handicap players, they can usually place the ball in a general area where they want it, and this is where the advantage of knowing the course comes in

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Note: This thread is 3677 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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