In my previous column I tried to dispel some of the myths surrounding slope ratings and stroke holes. This issue I will look at scores. Namely, posting them and measuring them.
The Handicap System relies on the premise that golfers will post all acceptable scores. Unfortunately, some golfers take liberties with what they feel “acceptable” means.
Myth: Match play and better-ball scores are NOT to be posted.
Though it is true that from time to time a golfer may approach a particular hole or shot from a slightly different perspective in a match than they would in individual stroke play (i.e., more or less aggressive depending on the state of the match or position of the opponent), the system still requires that such scores be posted.
And why not? It’s still golf and the individual is playing his own ball from tee to green. The score can and should be included in the scoring record. Or, to put it another way, handicaps are used in such matches. So why wouldn’t scores from such matches contribute to the handicap calculation?
The same is true with better-ball scores. Even though a golfer may “charge” a birdie putt a little more forcefully with the knowledge that his partner has a par in hand, the score needs to be posted.
But what about those times when a putt is conceded, or the ball is picked up on a hole due to a partner’s play, or a golfer walks in when a match is concluded on the 16th hole? How do you post a score?
Simple, the Handicap System has it covered.
Whenever you start but fail to complete a hole, the system requires you to post the score you most likely would have made had you completed the hole. A golfer must use his best judgment and insert the score that he would expect to make from that position 51% of the time.
For unplayed holes the system calls for inserting a score of “par plus any handicap strokes the golfer is entitled to on the hole.”
Thanks to these two common sense solutions, a golfer can “fill in the blanks” and still post the score.
Now that a score is in hand, how can one gauge how they played in relationship to their handicap?
Myth: Comparing a net score to par will tell a golfer how that round stacked up against their handicap. A net score of even par indicates a golfer played exactly to his handicap.
Right idea, wrong standard of measure.
Net scores needs to be compared with the course rating, not par, to assess performance. A net score below the course rating indicates a golfer outperformed his handicap. A net score above the rating means the golf course outperformed the golfer. A net score equal to the rating means that the golfer played exactly to his handicap.
Par does not carry a lot of weight within the Course Rating or Handicap Systems. Golfers see evidence of this all the time. Courses of vastly different difficulty often carry the same par, so wouldn’t it make sense that a net score of par at some courses is better than others?
You need look no further than our very own Poppy Hills for the answer.
Net par from the blue tees at Poppy Hills is certainly a strong score as it rates more than two strokes under the course rating (74.2). Such a net score would indicate the golfer played about two strokes better than his handicap that day.
Net par from the gold (forward) tees at Poppy Hills, however, is nothing to write home about as it represents a score both four and one-half strokes above the men’s rating (67.5) and above the golfer’s handicap.
Moral of the story ¾ the lower the course rating, the lower the net scores the system would expect a golfer to record.
Now that this relationship is clear, it brings to light a provision within the system designed to make golf more fun.
Consider a tournament in which two men compete against each other, one playing the blue tees at Poppy Hills, the other the gold. Suppose both golfers play perfectly to their handicap that day. Who wins?
On the surface it would appear that the gold tee player wins in a landslide as a net score of 67 crushes a 74. If the tournament officials performed their homework though, it awarded the blue-tee golfer seven additional strokes to compensate for the 6.7 stroke difference in ratings and the golfers would tie (blue-tee golfer’s net score becomes a 67).
By awarding extra strokes equal to the difference in course ratings to the golfer playing the higher rated tees, the playing field is leveled in both same gender and mixed competitions.
What this really means is that each individual can enjoy the freedom to select whatever set of tees they wish to play from (preferably the set most suited to their game that will maximize their enjoyment of the course) without sacrificing any fairness. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Due to many favorable responses, I’ll tackle several myths regarding scores and handicaps in the next issue.