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A Golf Association of Philadelphia Blog
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.
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.
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 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.)
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!