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Encyclopedia > Golf handicap

A golf handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's playing ability. It can be used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on somewhat equal terms. Handicaps are administrated by golf clubs or national golf associations. Exact rules relating to handicaps can vary from country to country. For the 1994 film, see Amateur (film). ... This article is about the sport. ...


Handicap systems are not used in professional golf.

Contents

Determining a player's handicap

A handicap is calculated with a specific arithmetic formula that approximates how much worse than par a player should be able to play. The R&A (now a separate organization from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club), based in St Andrews, Scotland, is responsible for the authorization of handicap systems in all golf playing countries except the United States and Mexico, where United States Golf Association rules apply. The administration of handicapping systems in countries affiliated to the R&A is the responsibility of the national golf associations, which are affiliated to the R&A. The two governing bodies specify slightly different ways to perform this calculation for players. The details of these calculations are presented below. In golf, a par is a predetermined number of strokes that a golfer should require to complete a hole, a round (the sum of the total pars of the played holes, also called the course rating), or a tournament (the sum of the total pars of each round). ... The clubhouse of the R&A. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is the one of the oldest golf clubs in the world, the oldest being the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield. ... For other uses, see St Andrews (disambiguation). ... This article is about the country. ... The logo of the USGA The United States Golf Association (USGA) is the United States national association of golf courses, clubs and facilities and the governing body of golf for the U.S. and Mexico. ...


A golfer's net score is determined from his or her gross score (the number of strokes actually taken) by subtracting his or her handicap from the gross score. The net scores of all the competing golfers are compared and (generally) the lowest score wins.


A player's handicap is intended to show a player's potential, not their average score, as is the common belief. A player will play to their handicap less than 25% of the time. The USGA refers to this as the "average best" method. So in a large, handicapped competition, the golfer who shoots the best with respect to his or her abilities and the normal variations of the score should win.


While there are many variations in detail, handicap systems are generally based on calculating an individual player's playing ability from his or her recent history of rounds. Therefore, a handicap is not fixed but is regularly adjusted to increases or decreases in a player's scoring.


A golfer whose handicap is zero is called a "scratch golfer." A golfer whose handicap is 20 is called a "bogey golfer." It is possible to have a handicap below 0; these are referred to as 'plus' handicaps, and at the end of the round, a 'plus' handicap golfer must add his handicap to his score. A professional golfer plays off scratch, but has no actual handicap.


In the United States, handicaps are calculated using several variables: The player's scores from his or her most recent rounds, and the course rating and slope from those rounds. A "handicap differential" is calculated from the scores, using the course slope and rating, and the player's handicap differentials are used to calculate the player's handicap.


Course rating and slope

In the United States (and elsewhere) each officially rated golf course is described by two numbers, the course rating and the slope rating. The rating of a particular course is a number generally between 67 and 77 that is used to measure the average "good score" by a scratch golfer on that course. The slope of a particular course is a ratio generally between 105 and 155 that describes the difficulty of a course for a bogey golfer (defined above). These two numbers are used to calculate a player's handicap differential, which adjusts a player's score in relation to par according to the slope and rating of the course.


For each officially posted round, the player's handicap differential is calculated according to the following formula:


Handicap differential = (gross score − course rating) × 113 / (slope rating).


The differential is rounded to the nearest tenth.


The handicap index is then calculated using the average of the best 10 differentials of the player's past 20 total rounds, multiplied by 0.96. Any digits in the handicap index after the tenths are truncated. If a golfer has at least 5 but fewer than 20 rounds posted, the index is calculated using from one to nine differentials according to the following schedule:

Number of rounds Differentials to use
5 or 6 lowest 1
7 or 8 lowest 2
9 or 10 lowest 3
11 or 12 lowest 4
13 or 14 lowest 5
15 or 16 lowest 6
17 lowest 7
18 lowest 8
19 lowest 9

Updates to a golfer's index are calculated periodically according to schedules provided by state and regional golf associations.


The handicap index is used with the course's slope rating to determine the golfer's course handicap according to the following formula:


Course Handicap = Handicap index * Slope Rating / 113. The course rating is not used to determine a course handicap. The result is rounded to the nearest whole number.


The course handicap is the number of strokes to be deducted from the golfer's gross score to determine the net score.


For example, the following table shows the impact of the same score at two different tee positions at the same course, and the resulting handicap differential:


White tees:


Gross score: 85 Course rating: 69.3 Course slope: 117


Yields a handicap differential of 15.2. If this golfer's handicap index is 10.5, the course handicap would be 10.5 * 117 / 113 = 11, and the net score would be 85 − 11 = 74.


Blue tees:


Gross score: 85 Course rating: 71.9 Course slope: 124


Yields a handicap differential of 11.9. If this golfer's handicap index is 10.5, the course handicap would be 10.5 * 124 / 113 = 12, and the net score would be 85 − 12 = 73.


Additionally, before making the above calculation, the gross score must be adjusted using the equitable score control table, which removes the effect of abnormally high individual hole scores by establishing a maximum score per hole depending on the player's handicap index. For example, a golfer with a course handicap of 20 through 29 can record a maximum of 8 strokes on any one hole for handicap calculation purposes only. Equitable score control is a method of recording scores used to calculate a golf handicap. ...


Calculating a score

The handicap is used to determine on which holes a player (or team) is granted extra strokes. These are then used to calculate a "net" score from the number of strokes actually played ("gross" score).


To find how many strokes a player is given, the procedures differ between in match play and stroke play. In match play, the difference between the players' (or teams') handicaps is distributed among the holes to be played. For example, if 18 holes are played, player A's handicap is 24, and player B's handicap is 14, then A is granted ten strokes: one on each of the ten holes identified by the handicap numbers 1 through 10 on the scorecard and no strokes on the remaining eight. If A's handicap is 36 and B's handicap is 14, A is granted 22 strokes: one on each of the 18 holes to be played, and an additional one on each of the four holes identified by the handicap numbers 1 through 4 on the scorecard. Match play is a scoring system for golf (compare to stroke play). ... Stroke play is a scoring system for golf (compare to match play). ...


The procedure in stroke play is similar, but each player's individual handicap (rather than the difference between two players' handicaps) is used to calculate extra strokes. Therefore, a player with handicap 10 is granted one stroke on each of the ten holes identified by the handicap numbers 1 through 10 on the scorecard and no extra strokes on the remaining eight. A player with a handicap of 22 is granted 22 strokes: one on each of the 18 holes and an additional one on each of the four holes identified by the handicap numbers 1 through 4 on the scorecard.


Example for the calculation of "net" results: Assume that A is granted one stroke on a par four hole and player B is granted none. If A plays six strokes and B plays five, their "net" scores are equal. Therefore, in match play the hole is halved; in stroke play both have played a "net" bogey (one over par). If both play five strokes, A has played better by one "net" stroke. Therefore, in match play A wins the hole; in stroke play A has played a "net" par and B a "net" bogey.


Specific example

Let's say that we have four golfers: Trent, Dan, Jason, and Dustin, of various abilities who are in a competition against each other. Here are the players and their handicaps:

Trent 14.9
Dan 9.9
Jason 1.5
Dustin 26.4

The course has the following slope and rating:

  • Rating: 70.9
  • Slope: 120

So, using the formulas above, here are their course handicaps (only the slope is used to determine the course handicap):

Trent 16
Dan 11
Jason 2
Dustin 28


And, finally, here are their gross and their net scores:

Golfer Gross Net
Trent 91 75
Dan 86 75
Jason 74 72
Dustin 99 71

Dustin wins. He is the only one in the group that actually shot better than his handicap, so he deserved to win.


Slope rating

The slope rating is the USGA mark that indicates the measurement of the relative difficulty for the bogey golfer compared to the course rating. Slope rating is computed from the difference between the bogey rating and the course rating. The lowest slope rating is 55 and the highest is 155.


Bogey rating

The bogey rating is the USGA evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for the bogey golfer. It is based on yardage, effective playing length and other obstacles to the extent that affect the scoring ability of the bogey golfer. To figure out this number, one should take the slope rating, divide it by the set factor (5.381 for men, and 4.24 for women) and add that to the course rating. The result is a target score for the bogey golfer, and is a truer yardstick of the challenge that lies ahead for the particular set of tees.


Example: A male golfer plays a course with Slope Rating 126, and Course Rating 72.5. Per the formula, compute 126 / 5.381 + 72.5 = 95.9 - which predicts the bogey golfer's average of his ten best (out of twenty) scores would be approximately 95.9 from this particular set of tees.

Handicapping in the United Kingdom

In the UK and Irish Republic, a "scratch score" system was previously in place in order to rate courses and be fair to golfers of varying ability, and to make allowances that courses may play "easier" or "harder" than par, overall, to the amateur field. For this reason, a "standard scratch score (SSS) is used as a baseline for how the course plays in practice (e.g. an SSS lower than par indicates a course which golfers find slightly easier, and vice versa).


Akin to the SSS is the Competition Scratch Score (CSS). The principle is the same, only this describes how easy or difficult the course played during a given competition. It is against this CSS score that a player's handicap is adjusted by the club. Golfers with a handicap of 5 or lower are said to be Category 1 players. Higher handicap players are categorised as Category 2, 3, or 4. For every stroke the Category 1 golfer's net score is below the CSS, their handicap is reduced by 0.1. For Category 2 golfers, this figure is 0.2, for Category 3 golfers it is a 0.3 reduction, and 0.4 for Category 4 golfers.


Similarly, amateur golfers are allowed a buffer zone to protect their handicap on "off-days". For Cat 1 this is 1 stroke, for Cat 2 this is 2 strokes, etc. This means that if a Category 1 golfer's net score is one stroke higher than the CSS, their handicap will not increase. If a golfer's net score is higher than the CSS plus buffer zone combined, their handicap will increase by 0.1. This 0.1 increase covers all golfers and does not vary by category.


The Home Unions of England English Golf Union & English Ladies' Golf Association, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are members of the Council Of National Golf Unions (CONGU), who publish the handicapping rules for both men and women. The English Golf Union is the governing body for mens and boys amateur golf in England. ... The English Ladies Golf Association (ELGA) is the governing body responsible for many aspects of womens and girls amateur golf in England. ... // The British Golf Unions Joint Advisory Committee, later The Council Of National Golf Unions (CONGU), came into existence at a conference held in York on 14th February 1924. ...


See also

This article is about the sport. ... // The British Golf Unions Joint Advisory Committee, later The Council Of National Golf Unions (CONGU), came into existence at a conference held in York on 14th February 1924. ... This is a list of common golfing terms. ...

External links

  • USGA Handicap System (used in the United States and Mexico)
  • Unified Handicapping System by the Council of National Golf Unions (used in Great Britain and Ireland)
  • Australian Handicap System
  • South African Golf Association (handicap system used in South Africa)
  • Golf handicap FAQ (US Rules)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Handicap - Definition of Golf Handicap (381 words)
The lower a golfer's handicap, the better the golfer is. A 2 handicapper is better than a 10 handicapper who is better than a 20 handicapper.
An official handicap - one that is established through the auspices of a USGA affiliated club - is called a "handicap index." To establish a handicap index, a golfer needs a minimum of his five most recent scores, plus the course rating and slope rating of the courses played.
A course handicap tells a golfer how many strokes he is allowed to take on a specific golf course; that is, a course handicap of 14 means the golfer will be able to deduct 14 strokes from his score throughout the round.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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