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A Golf Association of Philadelphia Blog
August 20, 2012Posted by on
There was an interesting article posted recently in the Wall Street Journal which asked that very question. The article then goes on to explain that in foreign countries, handicap systems vary greatly from the USGA Handicap System.
Great Britain and Ireland, by contrast, clubs might only designate one round per month, the so-called monthly medal, as eligible for handicap consideration. Golfers there post on average only three to five handicap scores per year. In Australia, almost every round a golfer plays is part of a competition and all those scores are crunched for handicaps. It’s common for Australians to post 30 or more competition scores a year.
What are your thoughts? With Equitable Stroke Control, the USGA has taken a step towards speeding up play for handicap posting purposes, but does that matter? Do enough players even know the rules to know what their ESC max score is on each hole? According to the USGA, they do not.
“The problem is that not even 5% of players actually know this,” said Steven Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director for handicapping and course rating. Culturally, Americans are simply more inclined to finish out every hole.
The article brings up some great points and topics that the governing bodies of golf will have to tackle in the years ahead. The idea of some sort of standard worldwide handicap system holds great appeal, but with different systems in place around the world, that’s likely not something that could be easily implemented. As the article mentions, the first step would have to be to standardize the course rating systems in use. It would take a monumental effort for such a task to be accomplished, but it’s certainly a good idea to start working towards now, and luckily for us golfers, the powers that be recognize this and have already met to talk about how to improve the system.
July 5, 2012Posted by on
I recently got a query from a local club professional that brought up an interesting point, one that I wanted to pass on to the readers of the blog. From the pro:
“Playing 5 – 9 hole matches. I’d like to set the golf course so that the players have a nice 2 days while hopefully keeping the pace under control. In doing that, I’d like to move a couple of par 4′s forward while leaving the par 5′s +/- 5 yards of the white tee monuments, and the par 3′s to 4 different yardages each day. The question or concern from a couple (1st/2nd Flight Players) is that:
The problem is that you fundamentally change holes that shots are being given on, which gives a big advantage to the group receiving the stroke. In a nine hole match, that is too much.
Unless you are going to make an equal and opposite adjustment to another hole on that nine, is just isn’t fair.”
My response to him was that there are two things to keep in mind with these changes. One is that, with the yardage change, you’d need to adjust the course rating and slope rating according to Section 5-2g of the USGA Handicap Manual. For a nine-hole adjustment, the proper procedure is to use the actual yardage difference for the adjustment to the USGA Course Rating, and double the yardage difference to find the appropriate Slope Rating adjustment. Here is the chart to use:
Once you’ve determined the updated course rating and slope rating, you can then determine each player’s course handicap. As for the concern of how it would affect the handicap allocation, according to Section 9-3a of the USGA Handicap System, the committee in charge of the competition is permitted to assign a custom allocation order for a specific competition. There are no specific guidelines from the USGA on how to do this custom, event-specific allocation, but the committee should use its best judgment to determine how the strokes should be allocated.
So in summary, those are the two things to keep in mind – one, adjust the rating to the new yardage, and two, you can create a custom allocation of handicap strokes specifically for this event.
January 10, 2012Posted by on
As we turned the calendar over to 2012, that marked the beginning of a new rules year. Not only is there an update to the Rules of Golf, but there’s also an updated USGA Handicap Manual. I thought I’d use the first post of the new year to take a look at some of the changes and see how they might affect you, the player.
- The first change is an amended definition of the term “Authorized Golf Association” in Section 2. The new definition is more specific.
- Also in Section 2, the radius for a Type 2 golf club member was upped to 75 miles (Type 3 remains at 50 miles).
- In both Section 4 and Section 5, the phrase “Principles of the Rules of Golf” was added, replacing “Rules of Golf”. Why? Well according to the USGA,
The phrase “ in accordance with the principles of the Rules of Golf “ refers to situations where the player has played a hole in such a manner that the score would be sufficiently accurate to be used for handicap computation purposes. Occasionally, holes are not played strictly in accordance with the Rules of Golf. Thus, flexibility has been provided in the USGA Handicap System for a score to remain acceptable for handicap posting purposes in certain situations. This policy better ascertains the player’s potential ability by attempting to capture more scores for handicap purposes than just those made in accordance with the Rules of Golf. For example, a player starting but not finishing a hole in stroke play (e.g., picking up before
holing out) records the “most likely score” for handicap purposes (see Section 4-1).
If a player uses a Distance (only) Measuring Device or plays a round under preferred lies, regardless of the Local Rule established, the score remains acceptable for handicap purposes. (See Decision 5-1e/2 and Section 7.) This policy also includes situations that are generally out of the player’s control, such as incorrectly installed hole liners or an incorrectly marked golf course. (See Section 15-5.)
- In Section 8-3, the National Revision Schedule was officially implemented. We’ve known about this change for over a year, and in fact, the Golf Association of Philadelphia, along with all of our neighboring associations, implemented this change in 2011. The National Revision Schedule states that all state and regional golf associations will revise handicaps on the 1st and 15th of each month. The uniformity is key to a player from our region who also holds a handicap in a year-round posting state like Florida, because his or her handicap will always be the same in both areas, whereas previously the player could have different handicap indexes, depending on the revision schedule in the area.
That’s a quick look at the first few changes in the manual for our next four-year cycle. Check back soon for another post on the changes and what effect that they might have on you in this upcoming season. Happy New Year!
December 6, 2011Posted by on
Just 10 years ago, the golfer really didn’t have options when it came to posting his or her score to the club’s handicap system. The player would finish a round and either turn in the scorecard to the pro shop staff, or enter the information on the club’s handicap posting computer. But now the golfers options have multiplied. Just look at all of the ways you can now post a score to the GHIN system as a Golf Association of Philadelphia member:
1. Post to the club’s handicap computer.
2. Post a score from an away club on that club’s handicap computer.
3. Post a score on Gapgolf.org.
4. Have your club’s pro shop staff or handicap committee enter the score for you.
5. Post a score on GHIN.com on your computer.
6. Post a score by going to GHIN.com’s mobile site on your smartphone.
7. Post a score using a GHIN mobile application.
And coming soon ..
8. Post a score using the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mobile app.
What about you? How do you typically post your scores?
October 10, 2011Posted by on
Later this month, the United States Golf Association will host a dinner at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the USGA Handicap System. The Golf Association of Philadelphia will have representatives at this dinner, including yours truly, and I’m looking forward to honoring the system that is so important to the game of golf today.
In honor of the anniversary, the USGA is running a series of pieces about the history of the system. Here’s a link to the first part in the history series. Check back in the future for the rest of the series. My favorite part is this, which deals with the meaning of the term “handicap” …
It is interesting to note that among all these mentions of handicapping during the earliest decades in which the game was played, the term “handicap” itself was not used. The word did not enter the golf lexicon until the 1870s.
The term originates from a trading game, popular in pubs in the 17th and 18th centuries, known as “hand in cap.” The game required three sides: two players and a referee. Each player would have an item to trade with the other, and it was the responsibility of the referee to determine the amount that would make up a difference in value between the items.
The players would place money into a pot, then put their hands into a cap. When they pulled their hands out, an open palm would signal an acceptance of the trade, while a fist indicated rejection. If both sides agreed – either acceptance or refusal – the referee would receive the pot.
If the traders disagreed, the player accepting the deal received the pot. The key to the game was how equitably the referee would assign the difference in value between the traded items, as he would benefit only if both sides agreed. If the referee wasn’t fair, he would lose out.
“Hand in cap” became known as “handicap,” and the word transferred to other endeavors associated with betting – first horse racing in the 1850s followed by golf a couple of decades later.
I’m certainly glad the term was shortened. Somehow, I don’t think “Director of Hand in Cap Services” has the same ring to it.
August 16, 2011Posted by on
It’s never fun when you have to take clubhead covers off and put them back on multiple times per hole. Not many golfers enjoy going on a golf trip and getting beat up by playing the longest tee set on the course, no matter how manly it makes them feel. A good way for the average golfer to choose what set of tees to play is to find out the Bogey Rating of each tee. If you consider yourself a ‘bogey golfer’, try to find a Bogey Rating around 92.0 or less to make sure you can expect to have a good time. In most cases, this will likely result in playing the middle tee or even one tee forward. After all, this is a time when golfers are being urged to ‘tee it forward’ to have fun and enjoy better scores.
The Bogey Rating is an evaluation of the overall difficulty of the golf course under normal course and weather conditions for the bogey golfer. It is equal to the average of the better half of a bogey golfer’s scores. It takes into account the length of the course, proximity and abundance of hazards and obstacles, and the skills of the bogey golfer. According to the USGA Course Rating System, the bogey golfer, on average, hits the ball 200 yards off the tee, and 170 yards off the ground. Therefore, length plays a major factor in determining the Bogey Rating. The presence of obstacles also has more impact on the bogey golfer as opposed to the scratch golfer. Ultimately, the Bogey Rating is used to determine the more commonly published Slope Rating. A Slope Rating can be misleading to a bogey golfer since it is dependent on the Course Rating.
Most course scorecards do not publish the Bogey Rating, but they are listed on your club’s Course Handicap conversion charts. They can also be obtained at www.gapgolf.org on our member club pages.
June 29, 2011Posted by on
For those of you who had the chance to watch the recent U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., you saw Rory McIlroy turn in one of the more dominating performances in major championship history. But how dominant was it?
After Congressional CC made some course alterations in advance of the U.S. Open, the Maryland State Golf Association re-rated the course in November of 2010, accounting for new tee sets and the other changes to the course. The course rating from the U.S. Open tees was 76.8, with a slope rating of 141. That rating is likely lower than the course actually played during the event, due to increased rough height and other obstacles. In addition, the USGA sometimes moves tees around during the four rounds of the event, which would also slightly change the yardage of the course and therefore would constitute a change in the course rating. But for the purposes of this blog post, let’s look at McIlroy’s four rounds and see what his handicap differentials were, using the 76.8/141 rating that the MSGA produced last year.
Round 1 – 65 – Handicap differential is -9.5
Round 2 – 66 – Handicap differential is -8.7
Round 3 – 68 – Handicap differential is -7.1
Round 4 – 69 – Handicap differential is -6.3
In the USGA handicap system, you need at least five scores to have a valid handicap index. And even with just five scores, the formula would only look at the lowest differential, which in this case is -9.5. So if we computed a handicap index for McIlroy based on these scores, and we took his lowest differential, his course handicap for a future round at Congressional would be a whopping +12. Anyone out there in GAP land feel like competing against that?
May 24, 2011Posted by on
There was an interesting article in Golf Digest recently in which retired clubmaker Barney Adams talked about how he is trying to increase the enjoyment of the game of golf by encouraging players to move up to play a shorter tee set. The article put forth some great arguments about how a majority of players should move forward, in most cases as much as 500 yards, to be better equipped to have a good round of golf. As the article says:
It’s all in the interest of recapturing some of the fun that everyday golf has been losing, along with speeding up play and making the experience more attractive to core golfers, occasional players and beginners.
The system that Adams came up with is called Tour Length, and it is based on the clubs that professionals are hitting on approach shots versus what amateurs are hitting. The distance differences according to the system are vast:
He calculated that for a pro to hit the same clubs on approaches as an amateur averaging 230-yard drives on a 6,700-yard course, the pro’s course would have to measure at least 8,100 yards. Conversely, for the 230-yard driver to hit the same clubs into greens as the pro would on a 7,300-yard layout, the amateur would have to play at no more than 6,200 yards.
Adams has lined up support in key circles with the PGA of America, the United States Golf Association and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and televised segments should begin airing this summer in support of the campaign.
So what do you think? Are you playing the correct tee set at your club? Next time you play, try moving up a tee set and see if it makes for a more enjoyable day on the golf course. The results may surprise you.
UPDATE: Since this was posted earlier this afternoon, the USGA has officially announced the introduction of this program, called “Tee It Forward”. This chart was released to show what recommendations are being made for players (based on how far you hit the ball off the tee):
18 Hole Yardages
|PGA Tour Pro||7,600||-||7,900|