If you play golf on a regular basis you should be building towards your golf handicap each time you play. Recently I posted a question in a linkedin discussion forum and the resulting comments (to date over 45 comments and growing!) made it clear there is a lot of disagreement and misunderstanding about the golf handicap system, how to build a handicap—which rounds to count, which rounds to ignore, etc.
Here is a sample of the more interesting answers:
I try to include every score I play. The only scores I did not include the past years were rounds where I did not have enough time to get an official scorecard before play. Or rounds where I only managed to play 9 holes. ~ J.B.
Handicaps aren’t meant to be played to on a regular basis but I believe its hard to maintain a completely accurate one… My official handicap I would say is where it should be for the amount of golf I play, I choose to cut the shots with my friends to test myself and make it interesting but playing once or twice a month I 100% believe I shouldn’t be judged by each and every game I play.~ S.G.
Those who keep a handicap, but do not post all of their scores are cheating just as much as kicking their ball out from behind a tree. In the scenario of not posting really bad rounds, you are only hurting yourself. Even though that round will likely not be included in the calculation, it avoids having another round with a likely lower score being eliminated. If more than 13 holes are played, the player must post an 18 hole score. If 7 to 12 holes are played, you must post a 9 hole score. Also, don’t forget to use equitable stroke control… ~ D.M.
Golf is a game of rules. The handicap system is to make it fair to compete against all levels. If you just play for fun, why even have a handicap? However, if you do maintain one, please follow the rules so it is as accurate as possible and post every round you play where 13 holes were holed! simple. ~ S.M.
Yes, if you follow the rules of golf, then by all means add all your scores. You are only cheating yourself if you don’t. My humbling experience has just happened over my last 4 rounds. I was a 17 handicap and over my last 4 rounds my HC has gone up to 20. Without this honest feedback I would still be thinking I am a 17. Something I need to work on. ~ V.V.
This last comment really focuses on the purpose of having an honest handicap. HONEST FEEDBACK that lets both you and your fellow players know your ability to play the game of golf.
Clearly there is a lot of misunderstanding among amateur golfers about handicaps. Here are some answers that hopefully will help clarify some of the questions.
What is a golf handicap? – It is a number that reflects a golfer’s playing ability. The lower the number, the better the golfer is. A golfer with a handicap of 4 is a better golfer than one with a 10 handicap.
What does a golf handicap mean? – The handicap number is not simply an average of a golfer’s scores. It represents a golfer’s potential.
Is there a difference between having a handicap you calculate yourself or having an official handicap through a USGA club or directly with the GHIN network online? – There are many free online handicap calculators you can use to develop your own handicap number. (Read a previous post on golfgurls: http://golfgurls.com/how-to-mark-your-golf-score-card-correctly-using-your-ghin-handicap) but if you are playing with golfers of different abilities, you really should have an “official” GHIN handicap. This is called a “handicap index” and will help you determine how many strokes you are allowed to take on a particular golf course you are playing. Every golf course has a course handicap which is usually posted in the pro shop. Having this course handicap allows you to compete on an equitable basis with players of varying abilities. Without it, you are in the dark and playing a guessing game.
How do you build an “official” handicap? – First you need to establish an account through your USGA affiliated club, usually for a small fee. Alternatively, you can go directly to the GHIN (Golf Handicap Index Network) online and pay for an account. You need to submit a minimum of 5 rounds of golf (score, plus the course rating and slope rating of the golf course on which the round was played.) The course and slope rating numbers are usually found on the score card for the club. Eventually, as you continue to submit scores, your handicap index will be based on the ten best rounds of your most recent 20 rounds of golf. It’s very important that you submit all your scores, no matter whether high or low, in order to keep the system honest.
If your round of golf is cut short by weather or darkness, do you still submit scores? – In order to post a score for an 18 hole round you must play a minimum of 13 holes. To post a score for a 9 hole round, you must have completed 7 holes. The score for the unplayed holes is your best guestimate of the score you would have made had you been able to continue the game.
How often does the GHIN system update the handicap index? – If you have established an index, you should receive updates once a month.
What happens if you decide not to post a certain score? – The only loser in the handicap system is you. Golf is a game that demands integrity. You are the only referee to your game. If you choose to ignore the high scoring rounds or inflate the low rounds, you are skewing the system. Eventually your game and handicap will not “match” and other players will take note. And word will get around. The last thing you want to happen is to be know as a “sandbagger.”
Bottom line: Post all your scores. It’s your game. Your handicap. Your reputation.
What do you think? Do you post all your scores? If not, why not?