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New to the forum. How does handicap work?


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Hello all, I am new to this forum. I have been playing for a few years, not frequently but the last year I have been playing more and this year I joined a club. I know what my handicap is but I don't know what the purpose is. I see the handicap on each hole on the card but have no idea what it means. Someone said it was supposed to help your score but that didn't seem fair to me. What's the deal?

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I think handicaps are way over rated, especially if you belong to a certain club where you play the majority of your golf. In my opinion.

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After doing some searching on here it appears that maybe I didn't figure my handicap correctly either. I was told to average ten rounds of 18 and subtract 72 from that number. So thats probably wrong huh?

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your handicap is the amount of extra shots you are given per round.

Each hole is given a shot index (handicap number) and this lets you know how difficult the hole actually is. For example the hole that has a SI/ handicap of 1 is the hardest hole on the course.

If you look at my handicap of 6 i would get an extra shot on the holes rated 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 during my round to help me.

if your hanndicap is 23 you will recieve an extra shot on every hole (1-18) and an additional shot (2 in total on 1,2,3,4,5.

This will help to even out any playing field you are in for example if we were to play against each other on the hole rated 1 you would recieve an extra 2 shots to par and i would only get 1 . . etc

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Do people actually play that way? If I get two extra shots to par and I make it on the second does that mean I mark a par on the score card? And if I make it in the cup on the first "extra" shot do I get a birdie? That doesn't seem fair to the golfers who are actually good.

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there is always 2 scores in golf. Your net score and your gross score. your gross score is your score before taking shots of and your net score is your score after removing your handicap. It may not seem fair but if everyone in a competition has an accurate handicap it actually makes the playing field level. it may not seem fair but it really is.

When you start playing the game people like to brag about the net scores they hit (eg i hit a 88 today minus my 20 handicap gives me a net 68) where as better plays only really care about gross scores. It seems confusing at first but really isnt.

if we were to play a matchplay match it would be your handicap minus your oponents so in our case 23-6. That means i would have to give you 17 shots. So on everysingle whole except the easiest (SI18) i would have to shoot one better than you just to stay level in the match

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There are several inaccuracies in some of these posts.  Here's how it actually works:

Every time you play, your score is plugged into a formula that also uses the course rating and slope. That gives you a number called your differential for that round. You average your best 10 of your last 20 differentials, multiply that by 0.96, and that is your current handicap index , also known as simply your handicap.

Your course handicap varies on every course you play. It's obtained by plugging your current handicap index into a formula that uses the course's slope. If you are an 18 handicap for example, your course handicap on an easier course might be 17 but on a harder course might be 19.

The course handicap is what's used to determine how many shots you get when competing against someone else on that course in match play. For example, if your course handicap for Pebble Beach was 18 and you were playing someone whose course handicap there was 21, that person would have to give you 3 strokes. That means you would get a stroke on the #1, #2, and #3 handicap holes. I.e., if you shot a 5 on one of those holes and the other guy shot a 4, you would tie.

The other use of the handicap is, as explained above, finding your net score when playing stroke play. You take your gross score (the one you actually shot), subtract your course handicap (not *your* handicap index), and that is your net score.

The handicap of the hole is that number you see on the scorecard. It does *not* necessarily rate the difficulty of the hole. It rates how likely it is that a better golfer would need to give a stroke to a worse golfer in order to keep the match fair.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golf_handicap for more info, or use the search feature on this site.

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So I need to keep score like normal then when I'm done go back through the card and subtract an extra stroke from every hole and two strokes from any hole with a SI of 5 or smaller?

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in honesty i didnt want to bring slope rating/ course difficulty into it as i didnt want to just flood the post with numbers and figures but thanks for mentioning it anyway

Standard scratch index is something i should have mentioned though

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Originally Posted by TAWM

So I need to keep score like normal then when I'm done go back through the card and subtract an extra stroke from every hole and two strokes from any hole with a SI of 5 or smaller?



Only if there were some reason you needed to know your net score (like if you were in a tournament). And as explained above, it's not quite that simple anyway - you need to first establish your handicap index accurately, then you need to use that to find the course handicap where you are playing.

Also note that when establishing your handicap, the score you post must be adjusted if you took more than the maximum number of strokes you're allowed on a hole. This is to prevent one or two blow-up holes from artificially inflating your handicap. The max number of strokes per hole also depends on your course handicap.

I know it sounds complicated, but it's easy once you understand it. RoyPinhey, I agree, this thread is probably not the place to get into all the nuances. OP: Best if you do a little research of your own first and let us know if you have questions after that.

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I really appreciate the info and I will start asking at the course. I just didn't want to appear ignorant up there asking things they might not want to spend the time doing. Thanks again.

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Originally Posted by TAWM

I really appreciate the info and I will start asking at the course. I just didn't want to appear ignorant up there asking things they might not want to spend the time doing. Thanks again.



Just to be clear, I wasn't suggesting you ask the course, I was suggesting you read the Wikipedia article and/or do some searches either on this site or elsewhere on the internet.

Welcome to the forum!

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Originally Posted by CuppedTin

I think handicaps are way over rated, especially if you belong to a certain club where you play the majority of your golf. In my opinion.



I couldn't of said it any better myself.

It is a poor estimate of your actual ability.  I think some one said (in another thread) that you should beat your handicap 1 in 30 rounds.  An Average system would be much better if you ask me.

Also course ratings and slopes are poorly calculated as well.  They are based on scratch golfer (course rating) and bogey golfer ( slope).  And such they steriotype (spelling) a scratch golfer as driving like 260-270 off the tee (or something like that).  So they go and look at landing areas that far off the tee box and determine how hard of a shot it is and such.  I think for a bogey golfer they look around 230 yards down the fairway or something.

The real stupid thing is the yellows at my course are course rated at like 70.6 and the reds are course rated at 70.9.  And the reds are 1500 yards father than the yellows.  Its a mess if you ask me.

I hate net golf.  Its a way for people who aren't good to try and compete with some one who shoots 1 or 2 over.  Shouldn't happen.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by trackster View Post

I couldn't of said it any better myself.

It is a poor estimate of your actual ability.  I think some one said (in another thread) that you should beat your handicap 1 in 30 rounds.  An Average system would be much better if you ask me.

Also course ratings and slopes are poorly calculated as well.  They are based on scratch golfer (course rating) and bogey golfer ( slope).  And such they steriotype (spelling) a scratch golfer as driving like 260-270 off the tee (or something like that).  So they go and look at landing areas that far off the tee box and determine how hard of a shot it is and such.  I think for a bogey golfer they look around 230 yards down the fairway or something.

The real stupid thing is the yellows at my course are course rated at like 70.6 and the reds are course rated at 70.9.  And the reds are 1500 yards father than the yellows.  Its a mess if you ask me.

I hate net golf.  Its a way for people who aren't good to try and compete with some one who shoots 1 or 2 over.  Shouldn't happen.


Wow, what a mass of errors.

First of all, it is not intended as an estimate of your actual ability.  From the USGA Handicap Manual:

Quote:
A Handicap Index is computed from no more than 20 scores plus any eligible tournament scores . It reflects the player's potential because it is based upon the best handicap differentials posted for a given number of rounds, ideally the best 10 of the last 20 rounds.

Second of all, your 1 in 30 number is way off.  According to the USGA you should match or beat your course handicap 1 in 4 rounds.  From a Q&A; on the pope of slope website:

Quote:
Q: How often you should beat your handicap?

A: You should average about three shots higher than your handicap. For example, a player with a Course Handicap of 16 on a course with a USGA Course Rating of 71.2 should average about 90, not 87. The USGA Handicap System is based on 96 percent of the best 10 differentials (corrected for Course and Slope Rating) of his last 20 rounds. More than half of your scores should be within three strokes of three over your handicap (87 to 93 in our example). Most golfers will beat their handicap (87 or better in our example) 20 per cent of the time

Third of all you are off in your profiles of both scratch and bogey golfers.  Again, from the USGA Handicap Manual:

Quote:
A " scratch golfer" is a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A male scratch golfer , for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level.
A male " bogey golfer" is a player who has a Course Handicap of approximately 20 on a course of standard difficulty. He can hit tee shots an average of 200 yards and reach a 370-yard hole in two shots at sea level.

If there is a problem with the course rating at your course it doesn't mean that course rating and slope are poorly calculated.  They are done extremely accurately.  If you have an issue with your course's rating or slope you should check with the club.   It would be impossible in the rating system, as outlined in the USGA manual, for a set of tees to have 1500 yards greater distance and a course rating that is only .3 higher.  You are almost certainly comparing a men's rating to a woman's rating.

Finally, you might hate net golf, and you certainly don't have to play that way.  But I could just as easily say that playing matches without handicap is just a way for a low handicapper to gratify their ego by whupping on a higher handicap player.  To no real point, because everyone already knows the lower handicap guy is the better golfer.  It says, in effect, that higher handicap golfers are not worthy of playing competitive golf unless they can find someone at their own exact skill level.

A match is not necessarily finding out who the better golfer is, it is finding out who wins the match.  Handicap allows for a competitive match in a situation where the disparity in skill levels of the players would otherwise prevent having a competitive match. Frankly when I hear low handicappers complaining about the handicap system it always sounds like sour grapes because some higher handicapper beat them.  No saying that is why you made your comment, just saying what it sounds like.

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Originally Posted by CuppedTin

I think handicaps are way over rated, especially if you belong to a certain club where you play the majority of your golf. In my opinion.



If by "over rated" you mean your handicap might be artificially low if you play the same course every time and therefore know it well, you're probably right.  Someone who does so might be at a disadvantage when playing another course. But there's nothing stopping that person from playing other courses if they feel their handicap doesn't truly represent them.


Originally Posted by trackster

The real stupid thing is the yellows at my course are course rated at like 70.6 and the reds are course rated at 70.9.  And the reds are 1500 yards father than the yellows.


It's probably the case that one set of tees is rated for men and the other is rated for women. Or the extra distance might be factored into the slopes.

As for the rest of your comments, you're entitled to an opinion but I think yours reflects a lack of understanding of how the handicap system works.

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It should also be noted that all of these posts assume you are referring to a USGA certified handicap.  If you are British your handicap will be calculated very differently utilizing the CONGU system.

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