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FORE November/December 2013 : Page 64

HANDICAP HINTS The Handicap System and Tee It Forward – A A Perfect Match By Kevin O'Connor, Director of Handicap & Membership t the SCGA, we’re big supporters of the “Tee It Forward” initiative, a program championed by the USGA and the PGA of America that encourages golfers to move forward to enjoy their rounds more and improve pace of play. Additional tees have been issued ratings to allow for easy score posting for handicap purposes, and the program is gaining traction in the Southland and nationwide. But if you’re playing from a diff erent tee from your buddies, can you still compete? Section 3-5 of the USGA Handicap System™ is positioned to accommo-date an array of scenarios for people playing diff er-ing tees. A little reminder on how this works never hurts. Hopefully everyone has become versed in the pro-cess of converting a Handicap Index® to a Course Handicap™. A real key is to understand what this does: it gives golfers enough strokes to play down to the level of a scratch golfer. Now let’s take that one step further. We want golf-ers who play to their handicap to have a high likeli-hood of equitable competition if playing from diff er-ent tees. SLOPE®, by itself, does not accomplish this. If the basis for handicapping is the scratch golfer and the USGA Course Rating, then we need to stan-dardize this when players compete. To do this, we compare the Course Rating of the tees that are going to be played. If a player chooses to play a set of tees with a higher Course Rating than other players on a particular day, we add the diff erence between the Course Rating (rounded to the nearest whole num-ber because a Course Handicap is a whole number value) to that player’s Course Handicap. Let’s look at an example. Two players, Glen and Walter, with the exact same Handicap Index of 13.8, decide to play against one another. Glen chooses to play the gold tee, which has a USGA Course Rating 64 | FORE November/December 2013

Handicap Hints

Kevin O'Connor

The Handicap System and Tee It Forward – A Perfect Match<br /> <br /> At the SCGA, we’re big supporters of the “Tee It Forward” initiative, a program championed by the USGA and the PGA of America that encourages golfers to move forward to enjoy their rounds more and improve pace of play. Additional tees have been issued ratings to allow for easy score posting for handicap purposes, and the program is gaining traction in the Southland and nationwide.<br /> <br /> But if you’re playing from a different tee from your buddies, can you still compete? Section 3-5 of the USGA Handicap System™ is positioned to accommodate an array of scenarios for people playing differing tees. A little reminder on how this works never hurts.<br /> <br /> Hopefully everyone has become versed in the process of converting a Handicap Index® to a Course Handicap™. A real key is to understand what this does: it gives golfers enough strokes to play down to the level of a scratch golfer.<br /> <br /> Now let’s take that one step further. We want golfers who play to their handicap to have a high likelihood of equitable competition if playing from different tees. SLOPE®, by itself, does not accomplish this. If the basis for handicapping is the scratch golfer and the USGA Course Rating, then we need to standardize this when players compete. To do this, we compare the Course Rating of the tees that are going to be played. If a player chooses to play a set of tees with a higher Course Rating than other players on a particular day, we add the difference between the Course Rating (rounded to the nearest whole number because a Course Handicap is a whole number value) to that player’s Course Handicap.<br /> <br /> Let’s look at an example. Two players, Glen and Walter, with the exact same Handicap Index of 13.8, decide to play against one another. Glen chooses to play the gold tee, which has a USGA Course Rating of 70.2 and a Slope Rating of 117. Walter chooses to play the white tee, with a USGA Course Rating of 72.3 and a Slope Rating of 123. The normal conversion results in Glen having a Course Handicap of 14 and Walter with a 15. So, Glen needs 14 strokes to play to the level of a scratch golfer (the Course Rating of 70.2) and Walter needs 15 strokes to play to the level of a scratch golfer (the Course Rating of 72.3).<br /> <br /> The goal, however, is to make it so that if both men play to their handicap, we get a tie. Let’s see how this plays out:<br /> <br /> In our example, if both players play exactly to their handicaps, Glen will always win. The reason is that they are playing to differing standards. We need to make a single standard for competition by taking into account the difference in USGA Course Rating. The 2.1 difference (72.3-70.2) is rounded to a whole number of two. Two is then added to Walter's Course Handicap because he is playing from the set of tees with the higher USGA Course Rating. He becomes a 17 and his net score is now 70, the same as Glen’s. There is now equity if both players play exactly to their handicap in the competition because everything is based on a single standard.<br /> <br /> This same logic applies if there are players competing from tees with three or more different USGA Course Rating values as well, including scenarios where women may be playing from the same tee markers, which have differing Course Rating values. The committee in charge of the competition just needs to choose one Course Rating as the standard and then adjust the Course Handicap (up or down) for players playing a tee with a different Course Rating than the standard.<br /> <br /> A hint: While it is perfectly appropriate to subtract strokes from players playing a tee with a lower Course Rating, especially if the majority of players are playing from a tee with a higher Course Rating, it is often extremely difficult to convince someone that strokes need to be taken away. Using the lowest Course Rating involved as the standard and adding strokes to everyone playing from a higher rating(s) is sometimes less difficult to explain.

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