Handicap Tips from a Non-Golfer

When I first started working for Golf Holiday back in April of 2014, I came in with no knowledge of the USGA’s Handicap System. I knew that it existed, but the intricate details that make up the Handicap System were a complete mystery to me. On top of that, I hadn’t played a round of golf in years. So here I was, newly hired into the golf industry, with next to no knowledge on the actual game itself.

I consider myself a quick learner, so I was able to pick up on the details of the Handicap System pretty quickly. But because I was so “green” when I started, I feel that I can offer a unique perspective (particularly to golfers that play in our tournaments) and tips on this system that seems to confuse even the longest tenured golfers.

So with that said, here are three tips about the Handicap System and its application to Golf Holiday’s tournaments that you probably can’t get from anyone else.

  • Be honest with yourself. While this may be the most obvious of my tips, it’s insane to me how many people let their handicap
    Photo: Illustration by Jason Raish
    Photo: Illustration by Jason Raish

    indexes become inaccurate due to simply not being honest about their game. This goes for both the sandbagger and the vanity handicapper. Here are a few ways that you can be honest with yourself to assure that your index is as accurate as possible for our MBGH Tournaments:

    1. Putt everything out. Assuming you made a putt is the fastest way to make your index inaccurate. (Editor’s Note – You don’t have to mark every putt. Just finish putting once you’ve started. Pace is also important!)
    2. Post all of your rounds, and post them accurately. Save for funky formats like Scramble or Texas Scramble, every round that you play should be recorded with your handicap service, good or bad. Learn the rules on when to post 9 hole scores and when to use “par-plus” to post 18 hole rounds you did not get to complete.
    3. Don’t game the system. We all know the basics. More shots = bad. Less shots = good. Don’t miss shots on purpose to increase your index and always play your best. Don’t increase your score because you know it’ll give you more strokes.
  • Understand that the system isn’t perfect. Our staff would be the first ones to admit it. The USGA’s handicap system is incredibly accurate, but it’s also a giant math equation, and because of that fact, there isn’t a way for it to account for all of the intangibles that occur over the course of a golf round. One example of such intangibles would be luck. shot-tracker-tipsI’ve heard it all when it comes to players describing a round in which they played well below their index. “I had three shots bounce off trees that otherwise would’ve been OB but ended up setting me up perfectly.” “I made a horrible putt but a stem of a leaf redirected my ball and it ended up going in.” “I shanked the heck out of the ball, but I ended up with a perfect lie. That NEVER happens!” While all of these are examples of luck, the result is the same, and thus the Handicap System views them as the same. We understand the affect that these intangibles may have on your round, but the system simply cannot make exceptions because of it. Every round needs to be viewed under the same scrutiny.
  • Don’t be afraid to give yourself less strokes. This kind of goes with #1, but if you plan on playing in the World AM, don’t be afraid to lower your own index beforehand. instructionIf you feel that you’re currently playing better than your lowest index in the past twelve months would indicate, then lower it yourself when you submit us your handicap. We actually encourage players to do this. Say, for example, you’ve been taking lessons, practicing a lot at the driving range, just bought new clubs, etc, but you haven’t been playing rounds of golf to post to your handicap service. In these scenarios, your index remains the same but your game has gotten better, thus your index is no longer accurate. This may increase your chances of getting your index adjusted during the tournament, or even a disqualification. I promise you that the adjustment you give yourself will be lighter than the adjustment we give you.

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