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Determining a player's handicap

A golf handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's playing ability. It can be used to calculate a so-called "net" score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on equal terms. Handicaps are administrated by golf clubs or national golf associations. Exact rules relating to handicaps can vary from country to country.


Handicap systems are not used in professional golf.


While there are many variations in detail, handicap systems are based on calculating an individual player's golfing 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 player's handicap is roughly equal to the average number of strokes that he or she plays above the par of a course. Thus, an expert golfer who plays a course in even par (scratch golfer) will have a handicap of 0. A player who constantly plays a 100 on a par-72 course will have an approximate handicap of 100 − 72 = 28. (See below for the precise calculation required.)


The par of each golf course can be said to be the number of strokes it would take a scratch golfer to complete a round in which two putts were taken on each green.


In the U.K., 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 Division 1 players. Higher handicap players are categorised as Division 2, 3, or 4. For every stroke the Division 1 golfer's net score is below the CSS, their handicap is reduced by 0.1. For Division 2 golfers, this figure is 0.2, for Division 3 golfers it is a 0.3 reduction, and 0.4 for Division 4 category golfers.


Similarly, amateur golfers are allowed a buffer zone to protect their handicap on "off-days". For Div 1 this is 1 stroke, for Div 2 this is 2 strokes, etc. This means that if a Division 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 division.


Note that it is possible to have a handicap below 0 (scratch). Handicaps below 0 are referred to as 'plus' handicaps, and at the end of the round, a 'plus' handicap golfer must add his handicap to his score. Example, a golfer playing with a handicap of 'plus' 2 who shoots a score of 70 would have a net score of 72.


A professional golfer plays off scratch, but has no actual handicap.

Course rating

In the United States (and elsewhere) each officially rated golf course is described by two numbers, the course rating and the slope rating. For each posted round, the handicap differential is calculated according to the following formula:


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

The differential is rounded to the nearest tenth.


The handicap index is calculated using the average of the best 10 differentials (using the formula above) of the past 20, times 0.96. Rather than rounding, any digits after the tenths are dropped. 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 a schedule. 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 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.


How to edit a handicap the correct way:


Let's say you shoot 77 and the course rating is 71.2 and the slope is 121.

First you take your score and subtract that by the course rating. Which in this case is 5.8. you then take the differential in this case 5.8 and multiply that by the slope which in this case is 121. Then you take that number 700.8 in this case and divide it by 113. 113 is the standard slope rating for most courses. This means that his actual handicap is 6.2



85-Course Rating=Z

Z x Slope=A

A/113 = Handicap Differential

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.


A player's handicap is not meant to reflect what they shoot in a typical round, but rather what their best score would most likely be per approximately every four rounds.

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 most difficult holes 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 most difficult holes.


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 most difficult holes 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 most difficult holes.


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.

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. Example: 125

Bogey Rating

The Bogey Rating is the one number every golfer worse than a scratch should check before deciding which tees to play. This rating is the 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, other than from looking at this database, the bogey golfer 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.



Is there such a thing as a par 6 hole ?

Apparently there is in Arizona At 747 yards

but you will have to double check :-)


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