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Handicap Percentiles


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10% are single digits handicaps. that seems very high.

Well, some are legitimately good golfers. Others are decently good golfers, and just post a high number now and then. Others have vanity handicaps -- they post a lower score than they really shot. It's the opposite of sandbagging.

How many times have you seen someone hit a tee shot OB, drop a ball near where it went OB, and hit that as their second (or even third) shot? If they post that score, it lowers their handicap below what it should be.
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How many times have you seen someone hit a tee shot OB, drop a ball near where it went OB, and hit that as their second (or even third) shot? If they post that score, it lowers their handicap below what it should be.

Not necessarily. Perhaps they're a single-digit golfer and they can only post double anyway.

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There's an interesting article on popeofslope.com that I read recently. Among other things, it mentioned that the USGA says that only about 4.5 million of the nations 26.4 million golfers have "official" indexes. That's about 17%.

Based on that, about 3% of all golfers have a handicap in the single figures. However, that is also missleading as there may be guys who can really play, like my father-in-law-before his neck and back issues, that never had a legit handicap but shoot low scores.

The average of 16.1 is also missleading as it would stand to reason that it is mostly the more serrious golfers who have an actual handicap. Following this logic would mean that they are likely better golfers than the majority of the people who are not as serrious and don't have a handicap. I am a 17.5 as of last week. I am also, sad to say, the best player in my league and of the regulars I play with. I am also the only one with a true handicap.
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What's the big deal with having an official USGA handicap? The only thing you'd need it for would be to enter sanctioned events. If you're looking to gamble with someone based on their handicap and you hold back because they don't have a USGA 'cap, that's just stupid because who's to say this stranger with a USGA card that says 7 actually scores himself correctly? I enter my scores on the internet in any of various handicap calculators and it spits out my handicap. I know it's correct and legitimate because I know and abide by the rules of golf. To hell with a USGA card.
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What's the big deal with having an official USGA handicap? The only thing you'd need it for would be to enter sanctioned events.

Virtually every town of any size has a golf association with little regional tournaments, often played on good courses, so don't diss these "sanctioned" events. It's not just USGA events.

At my club, every event requires them - member-guests, league play, everything. It's more than just member-guests. Additionally, if you're trying to improve, a handicap is one measure. If I never played in a "sanctioned" event I'd still have a handicap for tracking purposes. Even if you're playing against friends handicaps are the fairest way to determine who gets what number of strokes.
If you're looking to gamble with someone based on their handicap and you hold back because they don't have a USGA 'cap, that's just stupid because who's to say this stranger with a USGA card that says 7 actually scores himself correctly?

See, there's this thing about golf, and being honest and having integrity... there's also common sense: you don't bet more than a "small amount" (whatever that means to you) against someone who could be sandbagging you. You either verify it and bet as much as you want or you don't.

Besides, my handicap is under the GHIN system, which the USGA oversees but doesn't own. Your handicaps are "USGA" handicaps as much as mine are except that mine has an official committee (the handicap committee) at my club and a few other things. They're all calculated with the USGA rules.
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  • 2 weeks later...
Unofficial handicap indexes are useless, and I'd never bet someone who didn't have a real index because there is no way to verify it. I'd hazard to guess that people who don't play in events where ALL the rules are followed don't know half of the rules and don't really shoot what they think they shoot because they are unknowingly shaving stokes by not understanding what are penalties and how you should play your next shot after a penalty, not to mention rampant gimmie putts of 4'+.

Different people have different goals.. I track my performance just as a way to gauge my improvement as a golfer. I haven't entered tournaments, and the only people I bet with are my buddies who know my game. So, to me, an official index is useless. I have a goal to get down to a mid single digit (5-6) index, so I keep track to measure my progress. I also like having the handicap differential for a round, factoring in course rating and slope, since I try many new courses it's a good way to judge true performance on a wide variety of courses.

In past years, I did track my index through the NCGA (Nothern California Golf Association). It's not like there is someone checking the validity of submissions at the course or for Internet submissions. On the other hand, most of the incorrect submissions I have seen were reverse sandbagging.. Guys not playing by the rules, taking lower scores than they deserved and getting their vanity handicap low.
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I don't care about guys with "liberal" scorekeeping. I love them in a tournament. Played one last weekend in my club championship and beat him 7 & 6. I also love to bet with them too! Can you say...."El Foldo?"
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Different people have different goals.. I track my performance just as a way to gauge my improvement as a golfer. I haven't entered tournaments, and the only people I bet with are my buddies who know my game. So, to me, an official index is useless. I have a goal to get down to a mid single digit (5-6) index, so I keep track to measure my progress. I also like having the handicap differential for a round, factoring in course rating and slope, since I try many new courses it's a good way to judge true performance on a wide variety of courses.

At my club they do check tournament score postings which is an important indicator as to what a players ability is. We have about one a month.

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At my club they do check tournament score postings which is an important indicator as to what a players ability is. We have about one a month.

Yeah, tournament scores are probably the best indicator.

In Europe, don't they use only tournament rounds in handicap calculation?
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What's the big deal with having an official USGA handicap? The only thing you'd need it for would be to enter sanctioned events. If you're looking to gamble with someone based on their handicap and you hold back because they don't have a USGA 'cap, that's just stupid because who's to say this stranger with a USGA card that says 7 actually scores himself correctly? I enter my scores on the internet in any of various handicap calculators and it spits out my handicap. I know it's correct and legitimate because I know and abide by the rules of golf. To hell with a USGA card.

If you have no official handicap, no money game with me unless you want to play off scratch.

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  • 1 year later...
I'd guess the USGA statistic is at least slightly skewed in favor of low handicappers (says 10% below 6; should be 10% below 10?). I'd guess most good golfers keep a handicap either because it's required by their club, they play in tournaments (club or otherwise), or because they are serious about golf and want to track their progress. Rec/Casual golfers might be less likely to keep a handicap. As others have posted, and as in our club, you can't even play in any tournaments without an established handicap...even if it's a 36!

I don't know if their handicap chart includes all tracked handicaps or just GHIN. Our club recently went off GHIN to a third-party USGA conforming system. But, I've talked to PLENTY of "golfers", many of whom don't have current (or any) handicaps. So, if *every* so called golfer kept a handicap, I'm sure single-digit would be top 10%.

As for what it takes, in two years of playing daily, I went from 38 (course adjusted) to 14 and could see myself around +1 to 1 (would we call that minus 1??) with another year or two of daily golf. If *every* golfer took it seriously, I'd bet Joe Average could easily be a 15, meaning 50% would be better than a 15. It's not that way just because so many people are very occasional golfers.

I guess the importance of the statistic depends on what you are trying to do. If you're trying to enter the City Amateur, you should ask them what the typical handicap is (usually they have a limit of 5 or 6; US Am is 1.2 I think). Knowing that you're better than 10% of established handicaps may or may not be relevant. If it's just for bragging, then good news. I'd argue that if the chart says you're in the top 15%, you're probably really in the top 10% of all golfers.
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i would not copletely trust that usga chart. I play with a kid who has a 6.1, while i have around an 8.5 right now. I consistantly shoot 2 shots lower than him for 9 holes...he only submits his scores when he gets intot he 70's.
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i would not copletely trust that usga chart. I play with a kid who has a 6.1, while i have around an 8.5 right now. I consistantly shoot 2 shots lower than him for 9 holes...he only submits his scores when he gets intot he 70's.

Your friend's an idiot. He's only hurting himself. The reverse sandbagger, gotta love 'em!

I turn in everything that's not a solo-practice round. Anything I shoot with a group of 2,3 or 4 (or God forbid 5) people in the group get's turned in, whether it's 72 or 85.
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  • 3 years later...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shindig View Post
None

Well, some are legitimately good golfers. Others are decently good golfers, and just post a high number now and then. Others have vanity handicaps -- they post a lower score than they really shot. It's the opposite of sandbagging.

How many times have you seen someone hit a tee shot OB, drop a ball near where it went OB, and hit that as their second (or even third) shot? If they post that score, it lowers their handicap below what it should be.

Exactly Shindig,  There are so many "anti-baggers"-supposed single-digit handicaps.  Guys who never putt anything under 4-5 feet (or count it if they miss), don't know the meaning of a provisional (or would never subject themselves to the trepidation of hitting 3...5...7 off the tee: the proverbial "f*ck it, I'll just drop one up there").  Generally these guys never show up for competitive play: state/city/provincial qualifying/amateurs etc. because they know deep down they're not legit.  Or if they do, they're shocked to have posted "their worst round in years"!   It is truly difficult to play with these types, especially when they make a point of saying they 'beat' you !!  Legit single digits (ie rules of golf), by percentile-I'm thinking like 5-7% of all golfers, tops.

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I think it happens this way a lot.  Cowtown was probably wondering what the handicap percentiles were, googled it, found this, and signed up to reply.  Never noticed the date.

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