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Handicap Explanation for Dummies


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Looking for a good site that explains how handicaps are determined, and how the different courses ratings affect the handicap. I have been playing for a few years but haven't tried to determine my handicap. I just joined the Grint and see a handicap index for me and also each course has a handicap. Also see the term slope here and there. Was in a tournament last week and they were talking about the hole handicaps. Would like to understand.

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https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/handicapping/world-handicap-system/world-handicap-system-usga-golf-faqs.html

handicap index calculation 101 section

 

basically they take the 8 best of your last 20 score differentials and average them to determine your index.  Your index is what most people refer to as their handicap.  Your index is then taken and multiplied by the course slope and then divided by 113 to determine your course handicap.  That would be your handicap for that particular course which is dependent on it's difficulty.  

The slope of a course is a measure of it's difficult and can vary from like 55 to 155 I think.  113 would be average.  The rating of a course is the score a scratch golfer would average and is used in the computation of your score differential.

So a 10 hdc playing a 124 slope course would have a course handicap of 10 * 124 / 113 + course rating - par = 10.97 = 11.  He would get 11 strokes if he was playing a scratch golfer. If they were playing a skins game or similar those 11 strokes would be applied to the 11 toughest holes on the course (lowest # being the hardest).  

 

The only other thing is that the number of strokes you can take on a hole is limited to a double bogey plus your handicap strokes alloted.  So the 10 hdc player playing a par 5 hole that is the 4th toughest on the course would be allowed to record a 5 + 2 + 1 = 8.  When posting scores he can't put anything over 8 on the card for entering the score into the handicap system.  This keeps any one hole from blowing up your index or artificially inflating it.

edit:  I believe the grint automatically determines the maximum score you can take on a hole so you just need to enter in what you really shot.

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Adding a little in the "for dummies" context on course ratings ...

Each course actually has TWO ratings: the course rating, which is what a scratch golfer would expect to score. The other rating is called the Bogey rating; what a player with an 18 index would expect to score. The RATIO of those two gives you the slope rating (normalized to a scale).

So, suppose we have two courses: Open Acres GC and Crazy Woods GC. Both are around 6,500 yards, and have similar sized greens. Open Acres is flat, has no bunkers, no trees, no water, and no out-of-bounds that reasonably come into play. Crazy Woods is very hilly, has lots of blind shots, penalty areas on virtually every hole, and out-of-bounds on a few, along with severe bunkering in the fairways and around the greens. Both are par 72. Both have 2 or 3 par 5's that are reachable in two shots by a scratch golfer.

Open Acres might have a course rating of 70.0, maybe a skosh less. Its bogey rating might be just under 90, giving it a slope rating of maybe 114-120.
Crazy Woods might also have a course rating of around 70.0, maybe just a bit more. Its bogey rating, however, is probably 95 or 96. LOTS of potential trouble for the higher handicap player. Thus, it may have a slope rating of 135 or so. Those penalty areas and OB come into play much more for a less skilled player, and the bunkering provides a much greater challenge for the high handicapper than the scratch player.

FWIW, most of the courses the PGA Tour plays on would be rated in the 75-77 range, with slopes in the 140s, given their tournament setups.
These guys are good 🙂

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Very well explained.  Thank you both for your input.

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On 6/30/2021 at 7:13 PM, ChitownM2 said:

So a 10 hdc playing a 124 slope course would have a course handicap of 10 * 124 / 113 = 10.97 = 11.  He would get 11 strokes if he was playing a scratch golfer. If they were playing a skins game or similar those 11 strokes would be applied to the 11 toughest holes on the course (lowest # being the hardest).  

This method was replaced in 2020. Similar calculation but they added a part. 

http://www.scga.org/pdfs/Course Handicap Calculation.pdf

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On 6/30/2021 at 11:13 PM, goaliedad30 said:

Adding a little in the "for dummies" context on course ratings ...

Each course actually has TWO ratings: the course rating, which is what a scratch golfer would expect to score. The other rating is called the Bogey rating; what a player with an 18 index would expect to score. The RATIO of those two gives you the slope rating (normalized to a scale).

So, suppose we have two courses: Open Acres GC and Crazy Woods GC. Both are around 6,500 yards, and have similar sized greens. Open Acres is flat, has no bunkers, no trees, no water, and no out-of-bounds that reasonably come into play. Crazy Woods is very hilly, has lots of blind shots, penalty areas on virtually every hole, and out-of-bounds on a few, along with severe bunkering in the fairways and around the greens. Both are par 72. Both have 2 or 3 par 5's that are reachable in two shots by a scratch golfer.

Open Acres might have a course rating of 70.0, maybe a skosh less. Its bogey rating might be just under 90, giving it a slope rating of maybe 114-120.
Crazy Woods might also have a course rating of around 70.0, maybe just a bit more. Its bogey rating, however, is probably 95 or 96. LOTS of potential trouble for the higher handicap player. Thus, it may have a slope rating of 135 or so. Those penalty areas and OB come into play much more for a less skilled player, and the bunkering provides a much greater challenge for the high handicapper than the scratch player.

FWIW, most of the courses the PGA Tour plays on would be rated in the 75-77 range, with slopes in the 140s, given their tournament setups.
These guys are good 🙂

Note: the other 'nuance 'affecting your index  is where you play from (tees) on the course. For instance the tees I play from at our club, my index is 17. If I move to the forward tees, it drops down to 10. 

@peteco. as to hole handicap - that's the difficulty of that particular hole in comparison to the other 17 holes. This is based on actual data and you'll see it on the course card. Generally there would be a ranking of all 18 holes for each of the tees.  

 

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1 hour ago, tony@CIC said:

This is based on actual data and you'll see it on the course card. Generally there would be a ranking of all 18 holes for each of the tees.

Related question: is it rule or tradition that all the odd number handicaps end up on side and the evens the other? Then you could end up with assigned handicap not really matching the data (i.e. 3rd HC hole could actually be the second hardest hole, but because it's on the same side as the hardest holes it gets assigned 3).

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9 hours ago, MaxEntropy said:

Related question: is it rule or tradition that all the odd number handicaps end up on side and the evens the other? Then you could end up with assigned handicap not really matching the data (i.e. 3rd HC hole could actually be the second hardest hole, but because it's on the same side as the hardest holes it gets assigned 3).

That has always been a recommendation, rather than a requirement.  You can find the currently recommended system in Appendix E of the Rules of Handicapping.

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14 hours ago, tony@CIC said:

Note: the other 'nuance 'affecting your index  is where you play from (tees) on the course. For instance the tees I play from at our club, my index is 17. If I move to the forward tees, it drops down to 10. 

@peteco. as to hole handicap - that's the difficulty of that particular hole in comparison to the other 17 holes. This is based on actual data and you'll see it on the course card. Generally there would be a ranking of all 18 holes for each of the tees.  

 

Your index shouldn't change, you course handicap would.  The slope and rating used in the calculation changes based on the tees being used.  

Your index is your index and should be the same no matter where you play.

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16 hours ago, MaxEntropy said:

Related question: is it rule or tradition that all the odd number handicaps end up on side and the evens the other? Then you could end up with assigned handicap not really matching the data (i.e. 3rd HC hole could actually be the second hardest hole, but because it's on the same side as the hardest holes it gets assigned 3).

That's exactly how our hole handicaps are set-up and leads to the issue you mentioned. If you recall playing CIC last year; #7 - the long par 5 with water on the left is the #1 handicap hole and #8 is listed as #3 hardest hole but I think it's much harder than #16 which is shown as the 2nd hardest on the scorecard.  What also adds to a difficulty factor is pin position. On #8 as an example if the pin is forward it can play a lot easier than if it's in back tucked away.  Other than using the hole handicaps for league (calculating stokes/dots), I really don't pay attention to the info.  

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4 hours ago, ChitownM2 said:

Your index shouldn't change, you course handicap would.  The slope and rating used in the calculation changes based on the tees being used.  

Your index is your index and should be the same no matter where you play.

You're correct, my bad I interchanged index for course handicap. 

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17 hours ago, tony@CIC said:

#8 is listed as #3 hardest hole

This is another misconception, at least under the old USGA system.  At that time, the recommendation was to collect a significant number of hole by hole scores.  Handicap Stroke Index Allocation was then to be based on the difference in scores between low and higher handicappers.  Using this method, the #1 hole wasn't always the "most difficult", it was the hole were a higher handicapper was most likely to need a stroke to halve the hole.

The WHS recommendations have changed that, so the #1 Handicap Hole should be the hole with the highest sum of Course Rating and Bogie Rating, as compared to par.  This is analogous to the hardest hole.

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12 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

This is another misconception, at least under the old USGA system.  At that time, the recommendation was to collect a significant number of hole by hole scores.  Handicap Stroke Index Allocation was then to be based on the difference in scores between low and higher handicappers.  Using this method, the #1 hole wasn't always the "most difficult", it was the hole were a higher handicapper was most likely to need a stroke to halve the hole.

The WHS recommendations have changed that, so the #1 Handicap Hole should be the hole with the highest sum of Course Rating and Bogie Rating, as compared to par.  This is analogous to the hardest hole.

Thx, as usual we can count on you for rules clarification. 

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18 hours ago, tony@CIC said:

That's exactly how our hole handicaps are set-up and leads to the issue you mentioned. If you recall playing CIC last year; #7 - the long par 5 with water on the left is the #1 handicap hole and #8 is listed as #3 hardest hole but I think it's much harder than #16 which is shown as the 2nd hardest on the scorecard.  What also adds to a difficulty factor is pin position. On #8 as an example if the pin is forward it can play a lot easier than if it's in back tucked away.  Other than using the hole handicaps for league (calculating stokes/dots), I really don't pay attention to the info.  

My head is starting to hurt 😆.  It's been so long since I played in a league.

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