In this third and final installment of dispelling handicapping myths, I’m going after the biggest one of all.
MYTH: Playing to one’s handicap is common and expected.
Many golfers are amazed to learn they only play to their handicap around once every five rounds or so. This amazement quickly turns to downright disbelief when informed that, on average, golfers actually play two to three strokes above their handicap.
How can this be, they ask? Doesn’t a handicap pretty much represent a golfer’s average or normal play?
Of course it doesn’t. How can it when your worst 10 of your 20 most recent rounds are completely thrown out in the calculation process?
Think about it . . . we know you could not have played to your handicap in your worst 10 of 20 rounds. And even among your 10 best, at least half will normally be above your Index. This will leave you with about four scores in 20 (due, in part, to the .96 multiplier factor used in the calculations) where you played to or better than the Handicap Index you are being issued.
Despite this indisputable logic, nothing short of a score-by-score review of their current scoring record will convince some golfers of this truth.
(If you are one of the disbelievers, print-out a copy of your October scoring record. Note your current Handicap Index and count the number of differentials equal to or lower than this Index. You will probably find four, maybe five, such rounds among the 20.)
Once the reality of this situation sets in, the next question most people have is “why in the world is the system set up this way?”
Simple. A Handicap Index has always been intended to represent a golfer’s potential ability, not their actual ability. It has never been a number a golfer was expected to play to on a regular basis.
So if just playing to one’s handicap on any given day is not probable, what about those very low net scores that show up in big tournaments all too often?
The USGA has developed the following table which estimates the odds of golfers of different handicap ranges outperforming their handicap by a designated number of strokes. The numbers can be pretty grim.
|Handicap Index Ranges|