A good golfer comes to the course with a strategy in mind. A game well played is a step forward in your strategy. But how do you determine what a ‘good game’ is when you are surrounded by golfers with varying skills?
The answer is – the USGA golf handicap system. The handicap system is a mechanism that measures the golfer’s ability to play the game with a better golfer at the same golf course. It is a system that levels the playing field for all types of players.
The USGA system was developed in 1911 as a way to bring equilibrium between golfers with differing abilities so that they can play with each other on an even basis. No matter whether a person is a male or a female, old or young, tall or short, all can compete with each other on the same golf course.
How does a golfer get his own golf handicap score?
Belong to a Club:
The very first requirement in getting the handicap index is to be a part of a USGA-member golf club. The player can register himself with any of the clubs on the course that he is visiting. Golf courses across the US have clubs associated with them and they regularly advertise themselves on golf courses they are using. These clubs have their own handicap committees who help golfers with this process. If the player is unable to find a club, he can use the authorized site:
http://www.usga.org/HDCPClubLic/search.asp?Auth=Y to search for a USGA golf club/association
Is it necessary to belong to an existing golf club?
However, belonging to a club doesn’t mean that a player needs to belong only to an existing country club or his local men’s or women’s club. He can form his own club with a group of a minimum of 10 friends from his workplace or locality that meets the requirements and register it with the local affiliation of the USGA. Once the group forms a handicap committee, they can follow the policy set up by the USGA Handicapping system. The following link shows how to form a group:
The registration can be done by clicking on the website www.usga.org and then clicking on the player’s state. Players can also contact the regional or state golf associations of his locality to get additional assistance in this matter.
As a word of caution – There is no provision for a player to register with the USGA as an individual. If he tries to obtain a handicap score as an individual through one of those online ‘helps’, he may end up with a non-USGA score which is not recognized at any USGA competitions.
Update the scores:
After registering with the USGA Handicap System, it is necessary for a golfer to post his golf scores. According to USGA rules, a golfer needs to post his scores after playing at least 7 holes. If he plays more holes up to 12, then it will be recorded as a 9 hole, while playing more than 13, it is considered as 18 holes.
After playing the round, the player should record his score on the scorecard held by the person in charge of the handicap scores on the golf course. Details such as the player’s name or identification number (provided after registering for the handicap) will need to be submitted. Many golf clubs also have a Computer Terminal located on the premises for recording the scores.
If the association supports online posting of scores, the golfer can also use the GHIN (Golf Handicap Information Network) portal to enter his scores. The scores immediately become a part of the club’s online system and can be seen on the terminal next time when the golfer visits the club to enter the score. The following link can be used to access the GHIN portal: http://www.ghin.com/scorePosting.aspx
What if the match ends before all the holes are played or if the stroke is conceded? In such cases, the player needs to record the ‘most likely score’. While posting the record on the system, it is recorded by entering an X before the score.
What can be done if you play at a different golf course? In such cases, the golfer can post his score at his home course and provide the name, date of the game, and the golf course’s course and slope ratings to the scorecard recorder at his home course. The club will ensure that your scores are updated accordingly.
What precaution needs to be followed to ensure that scores don’t become unacceptable?
- The golf course shouldn’t be on a period of inactive season established by the golfing association
- Less than 7 holes should not be played
- Artificial devices shouldn’t be used to execute a stroke
- The length of the course shouldn’t be less than 3,000 yards for 18 holes
- Scores shouldn’t be played on a golf course not recognized by the USGA
- The holes shouldn’t be played in deviation to the USGA rules
- The clubs and the ball should not be non-conforming
Important Tip: Golf is a gentleman’s game, so accuracy and integrity need to be followed while updating the scores.
Understanding the Calculation of the Handicap Score
Golfers can have their handicap index calculated only at golf clubs licensed by the USGA.
The two most important factors that are considered while calculating the handicap index is the Course Rating and the Slope Rating. The course rating is the score derived by Scratch golfers, while the Slope rating is the score derived by comparing the scratch rating with the Bogey rating produced by Bogey golfers.
All clubs use the same mathematical equation = Handicap Differential X 0.96.
The Handicap differential is calculated using the following formula:
[(a-b)x113]/c = d
a= Adjusted gross score (minimum of 5 and maximum of 20)
b= USGA Course Rating
113 = It is the Standard slope rating
c= Course slope rating
d = Handicap Index
Each player is required to submit five scores to calculate the handicap differentials. The lowest score is considered and used in the formula for calculating the handicap index. When the golfer’s scores increases, the sum of the multiple differentials are considered and divided by the number of differentials to arrive at the average handicap score.
In the formula, the number 0.96 is called by the USGA as the ‘Bonus for Excellence’, which is an incentive for players to improve their game. This number is used to bring equilibrium to all the players who have a varying handicap index.
For calculating the handicap index, a golfer can easily find his course handicap for a specific golf course at the posting tables at those clubs.
For e.g., if a Golfer A with a course handicap of 7 make a score of 80, and a Golfer B with a course handicap of 14, makes a score of 88. If we subtract the handicap from their scores, Golfer A comes at 72, while Golfer B comes at 74. This calculation allows all golfers the proper chance to compete with each other and play a fair game with anyone irrespective of their handicap score.
Steps to remember:
Calculate your Adjusted Gross score using the Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)
Calculate Handicap differential using the formula
Select the 10 best differentials and calculate their average
Multiply the handicap differential by 0.96 and round-off to the nearest tenth.
The golf handicap has become the universal barometer for measuring a player’s skill. While the handicap system keeps the game fair, it also gives each player to keep assessing his level of progress in the game. A player who has a USGA handicap can easily set goals for himself and provides an incentive to lower it. The successful golfer is always ready to answer the most important question often asked on the golf course – ‘What are you?’