By JIM DRAKE
For The Vista
By “true golf scores” we mean scores made playing by the rules of golf … golf played by USGA rules … with some exceptions that have been adopted by the Fairfield Glade Handicap Committee.
So … if you choose to hit mulligans, don’t putt out, mark your ball on the green “somewhere close” to where you find it, or, change your ball on the green … you don’t need to read any further.
This year the FGCC Handicap Committee needs about 3000 score cards reporting true, legitimate, by-the-rules, conforming golf scores … from the white tees (men) and the red tees (women).
That’s roughly 600 scores, per course, recorded by different groups of men and women!
*Scores from (just) the red and white tees are being used, due to the fact that the majority of our rounds are played from those tees.
Periodically, we do a hole-by-hole assessment of our handicap stroke allocations for every hole, on each of our courses. You might remember about a year ago, after completing a thorough analysis, our handicap committee made some adjustments with the handicap hole assignments.
First, the holes were rank ordered, using techniques recommended by the USGA.
Then, the committee met to review their findings and impose the USGA’s recommendations on how the (handicap) strokes should be allocated.
The results were then printed on the score cards we are now using.
Beginning this April 1st, our Golf Handicap Committee started collecting score cards with conforming scores.
Scores turned in by both men and women, ranging from low to mid to high handicaps, will be used.
Scores from every hole on each of our courses will provide the data to calculate our (new) hole-by-hole designations.
When the Handicap Committee has about 3000 legitimate score cards (600 from eachcourse), they will begin the USGA recommended process of determining an accurate handicap allocation for each hole.
These scores will determine each hole’sfuture handicap allocation.
You will see what the new handicap ratings are when our courses have to reorder their supply of score cards.
How handicap strokes are allocated
According to the USGA, handicap strokes are allocated to “equalize the ability of players who have different handicap levels.”
It’s important for golfers to remember that, in match play, “the difficulty in making par on a hole is not an effective indicator of the need for a stroke.”
*Note: playing for net skins, like we do in a lot of leagues, is a form of match play. (Your) handicap doesn’t have anything to do with “par.”
Handicap doesn’t rank the holes hardest to easiest. When you get a stroke, or two, on a hole .. it is to get you closer to your opponent’s score.
The following statement is taken word-for-word from the USGA Handicap System manual, Section 17-1:
”The Handicap Committee should review the course hole by hole, bearing in mind that the basic principle is to equalize the abilities of players at different handicap levels.
“A handicap stroke should be an equalizer, and should be available on a hole where it most likely will be needed by the high-handicapped player to obtain a half in singles or in a four-ball match play.
“Difficulty in making par on a hole is not an effective indicator of the need for a stroke.”
An actual hole by hole comparison of the Brae’s short, downhill par 5, number 16, versus number 17’s long par 3, gives further insight to how handicaps equalize play.
The Handicap Committee’s last year’s comparison of scoresfrom more skilled players (single digit handicappers) versus scores of bogey players on hole #16 was more significant than those of hole #17.
In other words, it proved more difficult for the higher handicap to get the ball in the bottom of the cup in 5 or 6 strokes on #16 where the lower handicap player usually makes a 4 or 5.
On the next hole, #17, par was found to be a more difficult score for boththe lower and the higher handicap player.
Therefore, on #16, the equalizing stroke, gives the higher handicapper a better chance to get a score closer to, or even better, than the lower handicapper’s.
We hope this helps everyone better understand the how and why of handicap strokes. Remember, par is not the competitor.
The basis of the handicap stroke allocation is to level the playing field; to equalize the chance for players of different abilities to compete in match play situations.
Editor’s Note: Drake wrote this for the Fairfield Glade Golf Committee.