FORE January/February 2012 : Page 55

HANDICAP HINTS The USGA Handicap System Celebrates a Birthday t BY FRANCES NEE, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF HANDICAP AND MEMBERSHIP he United States Golf Association held a centennial celebration in honor of the Handicap System in late October at Baltusrol GC in Spring-field, N.J. – where the USGA Handicap System was born in 1911. Credit must be given to Leighton Calkins for helping to establish a uni-form handicap system across the United States. As a member of the USGA Executive Committee and Chairman of the Handicap Committee for both the New Jersey State Golf Association and Metropolitan Golf Association, he was able to test his formula of averaging a golfer’s three best scores of the season to calculate a handicap at the local club level before presenting it to the USGA for adoption. From the start, the USGA Handicap System was based on a golfer’s playing potential, not playing ability. Several of Calkins’ concepts are still part of the Handicap System today, including the requirement that each club must have a Handicap Committee, Calculating a Handicap Differential To clarify the formula for calculating a Handicap Differential (Handicap Hints, Nov.-Dec.), the 6.9 Handicap Differential cited in the column was calculated by the following formula: 79 minus 71.3 yields a figure of 7.7. That number is multiplied by 113, for a result of 870.1. That is divided by 127 for a Handicap Differential of 6.9 (rounded up from 6.85). the concept of par rating – which has evolved into the current Course Rating – and the use of a Handicap Index to determine eligibility for championships. In the late 1940s, the USGA increased the numbers of scores used to determine the handicap to the 10 best rounds ever, with a minimum of 50 scores needed. But a problem arose: Where do the best 10 scores come from? Some across the country wanted to use 10 out of the last 15 scores, while others opted for 10 out of 50 scores. Both methods were acceptable under the Handicap System. There was also another method specifically for women. All of this led to great confusion around the country. Almost 10 years later, the USGA decided to have a uniform methodology across the country, using the best 10 out of 25 scores. In 1967, the number was reduced to 10 of the last 20 scores, which is the formula still in place today. Other important variables intro-duced over the years that are still in place today include Bonus for Excel-lence and Equitable Stroke Control. Bonus for Excellence was first calculated at 85 percent, but it was determined that this number was too advanta-geous for low-handicap players and was changed to its current number of 96 percent. The Bonus for Excellence is an incentive for players to improve their game. As a Handicap Index is lowered, a golfer has a slightly better chance of winning or placing high in a handicap event. Equitable Stroke Control was not welcomed by all – including by Joe Dey, then executive director of the USGA. Dey argued that stroke control violated The Rules of Golf , discriminated against a player with a high handicap and artifi-cially lowered handicaps. The Handicap Research Team used its data to prove otherwise, and ESC was introduced and remains part of the Handicap System. An integral part of the Handicap System is Course Rating. Regional golf associations played an important role over the years in helping improve the system – from the Massachusetts Golf Association using decimals to make the ratings more accurate to the Colorado Golf Association being the first to test and implement the Slope System. Before introducing the Slope System nationwide, the USGA formed the USGA Course Rating Committee, which is made up of volunteers from state and regional golf associations. These volunteers not only participate in updating, adjusting and changing the Course Rating System but, more importantly, are critical in the education of many volunteers across the country. The SCGA is proud to have its Director of Course Rating, Doug Sullivan, as a longtime member of the USGA Course Rating Committee. The introduction of the Slope Sys-tem solved the problem of golfers from different clubs competing on an equi-table basis. Players could now establish a Handicap Index based on the relative difficulty of the courses played and have a fair competition against others. As you can see, the system contin-ues to evolve and be refined. For a more in-depth look at the his-tory of handicapping, please visit usga.org. 55 SCGA.ORG J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2 | FORE Magazine |

Handicap Hints

The USGA Handicap System Celebrates a Birthday<br /> <br /> The United States Golf Association held a centennial celebration in honor of the Handicap System in late October at Baltusrol GC in Springfield,N. J. – where the USGA Handicap System was born in 1911.<br /> <br /> Credit must be given to Leighton Calkins for helping to establish a uniform handicap system across the United States. As a member of the USGA Executive Committee and Chairman of the Handicap Committee for both the New Jersey State Golf Association and Metropolitan Golf Association, he was able to test his formula of averaging a golfer’s three best scores of the season to calculate a handicap at the local club level before presenting it to the USGA for adoption. From the start, the USGA Handicap System was based on a golfer’s playing potential, not playing ability.<br /> <br /> Several of Calkins’ concepts are still part of the Handicap System today, including the requirement that each club must have a Handicap Committee, the concept of par rating – which has evolved into the current Course Rating – and the use of a Handicap Index to determine eligibility for championships.<br /> <br /> In the late 1940s, the USGA increased the numbers of scores used to determine the handicap to the 10 best rounds ever, with a minimum of 50 scores needed. But a problem arose: Where do the best 10 scores come from?Some across the country wanted to use 10 out of the last 15 scores, while others opted for 10 out of 50 scores.Both methods were acceptable under the Handicap System. There was also another method specifically for women.All of this led to great confusion around the country. Almost 10 years later, the USGA decided to have a uniform methodology across the country, using the best 10 out of 25 scores. In 1967, the number was reduced to 10 of the last 20 scores, which is the formula still in place today.<br /> <br /> Other important variables introduced over the years that are still in place today include Bonus for Excellence and Equitable Stroke Control.Bonus for Excellence was first calculated at 85 percent, but it was determined that this number was too advantageous for low-handicap players and was changed to its current number of 96 percent. The Bonus for Excellence is an incentive for players to improve their game. As a Handicap Index is lowered, a golfer has a slightly better chance of winning or placing high in a handicap event. Equitable Stroke Control was not welcomed by all – including by Joe Dey, then executive director of the USGA.Dey argued that stroke control violated The Rules of Golf, discriminated against a player with a high handicap and artificially lowered handicaps. The Handicap Research Team used its data to prove otherwise, and ESC was introduced and remains part of the Handicap System.<br /> <br /> An integral part of the Handicap System is Course Rating. Regional golf associations played an important role over the years in helping improve the system – from the Massachusetts Golf Association using decimals to make the ratings more accurate to the Colorado Golf Association being the first to test and implement the Slope System.<br /> <br /> Before introducing the Slope System nationwide, the USGA formed the USGA Course Rating Committee, which is made up of volunteers from state and regional golf associations.These volunteers not only participate in updating, adjusting and changing the Course Rating System but, more importantly, are critical in the education of many volunteers across the country.<br /> <br /> The SCGA is proud to have its Director of Course Rating, Doug Sullivan, as a longtime member of the USGA Course Rating Committee.<br /> <br /> The introduction of the Slope System solved the problem of golfers from different clubs competing on an equitable basis. Players could now establish a Handicap Index based on the relative difficulty of the courses played and have a fair competition against others.<br /> <br /> As you can see, the system continues to evolve and be refined.<br /> <br /> For a more in-depth look at the history of handicapping, please visit usga.org.<br /> <br /> <br /> Calculating a Handicap Differential<br /> <br /> To clarify the formula for calculating a Handicap Differential (Handicap Hints, Nov.-Dec.), the 6.9 Handicap Differential cited in the column was calculated by the following formula: 79 minus 71.3 yields a figure of 7.7. That number is multiplied by 113, for a result of 870.1. That is divided by 127 for a Handicap Differential of6. 9 (rounded up from 6.85).<br /> <br />

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