This month we take a look at some common misconceptions related to the handicap system and how your Handicap Index is calculated, and reveal the truth behind these myths.
Misconception 1: Your Handicap Index represents an average of your scores
According to the World Handicap System (WHS), a player’s Handicap Index should “represent their demonstrated ability and, where appropriate, be responsive to scores that are inconsistent with their demonstrated ability.”
In other words, your Handicap Index is a reflection of what score you are capable of shooting on the golf course, based on your last 20 rounds. By using your eight best scores from your last 20 rounds, your HI should be significantly lower than an average of your scores.
Misconception 2: In any normal round of golf, you should shoot your Handicap Index
Similar to the above, your Handicap Index does not represent your expected score every time you play. Rather, it is a reflection of your potential, based on your “demonstrated ability”. In other words, you are not expected to play to this score every time, but only occasionally.
“It’s actually expected that in any given round, you’re going to shoot two, four, five strokes higher than your Handicap Index,” says the USGA’s Assistant Director of Handicap Education and Outreach, Lee Rainwater. “And it could be higher than that if you just have a poor day. Golfers vary from a standpoint of consistency but, generally, one in every four to five rounds you will play to your handicap.”
Misconception 3: Shooting a high score will result in my Handicap Index increasing
Although in most cases a low score will reduce your Handicap Index, the reverse is not always the case. This is because only your lowest eight differentials count towards the calculation of your Handicap Index, so even if you submit a very high score, it might simply bump another high, non-counting score out of the last 20 – and your same eight differentials will count towards your HI.
Myth 4: Your HI is the handicap you will play off at the course
Since all courses (and different sets of tees at these courses) have different Course- and Slope Ratings according to their level of difficulty, it doesn’t make sense that you will play off the same handicap at every course.
Instead, the WHS uses your Handicap Index to calculate your Course Handicap for the course you are going to play. Make sure you check your Course Handicap, either on the HNA App, terminals or in the pro shop before you play.
Myth 5: All scores count the same
The truth is that looking at a player’s gross scores only tells part of the story of that round of golf. For example, a round of 81 on a difficult golf course may be more impressive than a 77 on an easier course. This is because we use your score differential to calculate your Handicap Index, rather than your gross score.
This means that the Slope- and Course Rating of the course are factored into the calculation, and explains why rounds of the same score on different courses can, and generally will, have different score differentials.
Since your Handicap Index calculation is based on the best eight of your last 20 differential scores, it is useful to understand how they are calculated.
According to the WHS, a score differential is “the difference between a player’s Adjusted Gross Score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the Playing Conditions Calculation. It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record.”
The formula to calculate each score differential is:
(Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating – PCC adjustment) x (113 / Slope Rating).
Quote of the Month
“Your next shot is a new experience. It might be the best shot you have ever hit in your life.” – Harvey Penick.