Yea, it all just goes back to potential. But if you are averaging 3 triples a round, you are probably not a single digit handicapper to begin with.


Note this applies to your course handi.



Course Rating: 71.5
Course Slope: 124

74 / 2.3
78 / 5.9
77 / 5.0

If I show up as an unknown and fire those off in succession with a stated 7.1, eyebrows raise. Meanwhile, the guys at my club look at it as “he’s got his shit together and he’s back”. There’s probably an element missing that shows your recent range because a current index only tells you so much.


Ah…interesting. Those are nice scores (especially the 74). Congrats.

You’re right though. If you showed up as a 7.1 and fired those consecutively on a weekend, guys would be a little suspicious. But, your handicap will also go down quickly to reflect that and the reality is that’s only the difference between one/two blows a round. Not terribly significant in the big picture.

I would agree that one flaw with the handicap system is the limit on recent sample size for amateur golfers. Most of us just don’t play/practice enough consistently to a) enter enough scores for statistical accuracy and b) realize true potential through practice.

I find this is particularly true for golfers in the low to mid single digit range (1~8). Most of my playing partners/friends are in this area…and their index tends to fluctuate significantly within that range season to season and month to month…based on work obligations, practice routines, lessons, etc. A few extra rounds in a month coupled with a few good practice sessions-they’re back to shooting in the mid 70s quickly.


Hey @doublecross Did you know we’re changing our system (along with everyone else in the world) to be like the US system? It should be happening next year but they need to do course slope ratings first for the equation to work.

I have mixed feelings about this, as I’m sure you will.


Interesting - my guess would be that most golfers play competitive golf at the club where they hold their handicap, so a system which allows handicaps to “travel” more easily isn’t going to be particularly useful for the vast majority? Also, isn’t this what SSS and CSS do anyway?


Yes, but it’s not just travelling handicaps, its also the system of how we work out the handicaps that’s changing. You know here you have one, for example 11.1, and every time you do a qualifying round your club sticks it into CONGU and you get 0.1 added if you’re over or, to use our 11.1 example, 0.2 per shot taken away to give you a definite 11.0? The system is kinda rigid and moves in a very deliberate and slow way. Well, from next year you’ll have to add in your score for EVERY match you play, not just qualifying, and your handicap will be an average of the last 10 of your rounds (I think, it might be the top 8 of the last 12. I can’t remember off my head). So it’ll shift around a lot depending on how you play.

This is largely how it works in the US. But the R&A, plus the Asian and South American lot are changing all our systems to be in line with the US model.


Okay, cool. Seems like its just as much a philosophical shift in what a “handicap” should be, away from a golfer’s potential to a more day-today representation of a golfer’s ability? Currently, I’m feeling pretty smug in the bar if I’ve played to handicap and our club comps are usually won with around level.

A potential UK quirk to this (and I might be way off base) is that I sense strokeplay is the most prevalent form of the game, even casual, rounds in the States. This makes sense for entering a score for handicap purposes each time you play. I don’t know any UK golfers (myself included) who would dream of playing a casual medal round. I might keep my own score out of curiosity, but I’m invariably playing matchplay or stableford against my mates, which would affect a whole load of things vis-a-vis handicap scoring - gimmes, conceding holes, situation of match dictating strategy, picking up when not scoring etc…

I kind of couldn’t care less, I don’t play a huge amount of comps and none of the guys I play with could be accused of banditry so everything kind of works out. Overall, if this results in more people having an official handicap I guess its a good thing, still I like the idea of 3 blokes calling themselves a “committee” and deciding what everyone should play off over a few kummels.


Brainwave - If par is irrelevant, than what do handicaps even mean?

Not sure if its still the case, but Swinley used to handicap members vis-a-vis each other rather than to par. Might be too woke?


Here in the US, stroke play is definitely the norm.

Question for you Europeans…How are you doing match play if it is more than 2 (or 4, which I would assume is a better ball match)? The way we do most of our group games is better ball stroke play, so you’re playing as a team against the field. We usually have side games in our foursomes for 2 man better ball match play, so I guess we do both.


Maybe too woke, but way too confusing. For example, if me and Larry the Cable Guy showed up and wanted to play against each other, how would it be handicapped if we had never played each other and were new members at Swinley?


Agree that its a terrible idea for the reason stated. FAOD I’m not a “par is irrelevant” guy for pretty much this reason. Its kind of irrelevant for the pros (but also relevant) and kind of relevant for the rest of us (but also irrelevant). Anyway, didn’t mean to hijack the thread


That behavior gets me the maddest around golfers who have a handicap and get actual score and ESC score confused.

As a 10 course handicap, I can make and write down a 10 on a hole but I can only post 7 of those strokes. It is mental laziness as well as a bit of vanity to keep the score low.

I know for handicap posting purposes, the ESC helps remove wild swings in handicapping but the score for posting is a different animal. If you are in a tournament, you count them all until the ball goes into the hole.

As for mulligans, the rules of golf state that if you don’t follow the rules of golf for a hole you are supposed to score that hole (for posting purposes) the same way you would fill out the scorecard if you stop after 15 holes. You start with a par and add any handicap strokes you would get on that hole. So, if you hit your tee ball OB and make a par with your breakfast ball - a par would be your score unless you get a stroke, then it would be bogey.


Right that’s what was frustrating me, he wasn’t scoring triples on his actual card (which was being counted) - I don’t care what he posts for ESC.


What you record on the card and what you post are different. I guess it doesn’t really matter unless you’re playing for money with someone that decides to go BIP and the overall score matters. When we do our 2 man best ball pot games, guys post their ESC max if their partner has the hole covered. Context matters.


Yes sorry, for the this particular case - card score did matter. There was a low golfer award.


I think it is an interesting discussion and mentioned it in the original question. I am still not sure where I fall on the issue. The handicap system seems to be built around the par system, which kind of single-handedly keeps par relevant, at least for amateur golfers as you mentioned. If you don’t use par, what benchmark would you have to measure golfers against each other? A simple scoring average?


Context definitely matters. Common occurrence on ours men’s night and the generally accepted rule; for your men’s night round (and all games), its what you shoot, for the score you enter its adjusted. Quite a few games going on depending on the group you are in so that 10 can really matter.

We found out a guy and his same foursome was not following this rule and just using his adjusted cap, he was apparently just below a scratch and felt he could only take a bogey (misinformed apparently…) and would never record more then a bogey, well lets just say he continued to be on the leaderboard and winning some $$$ every week. Well a guy in his group was late to a tee time so a “curious” men’s night member bailed on his group and joined them, 11 obvious rules infractions in 9 holes (he felt he shot 34…) and they had a bit of a chat on the 10th tee. Guy was banned from Men’s nights games and all club and member tracked games and never showed up again…


We play match play with 2 or 4 players ( which is 2 x teams of 2), sometimes pure stroke play better ball, sometimes better ball stableford, sometimes combined stableford. It’s also possible to do match with 3 players if you say the lowest score gets a win, the highest score gets a loss, middle get neither and you add up how many you have by the end.

Most clubs will do a couple of monthly medals which are stroke, plus some of the major club comps. But the rest will be stableford against the field. So at my club we have 6 roll ups a week (24 a month) and 2 of them a month will be medal. The rest are stableford. We play in 4 balls and while we keep track of our own stableford for the roll up comp, we usually split into 2 pairs and play better ball match play in our 4 ball.

In match play the handicap is taken off the lowest player for strokes. For example, if you have a 7 playing a 15, the 15 gets 90% of the difference (15-7=8, then 90%, so 7.3 or 7). The lowest plays off scratch and the 15 plays off 7. Sounds complicated but it works out as the same as gross handicaps.


Without wishing to be too down on our American cousins (whom I love dearly, like a mischievous younger family member), in my experience playing golf on t’other side of the pond the insistence on stroke play is a huge factor in pace of play issues. The caddies we encountered were thrilled at the announcement of a stableford game on the first tee.

Golf in the UK is far from perfect and I think there is lot we can learn from how its done in other parts of the world, but I’d have given up a long time ago if I had to make a score each and every hole I play. It sounds demoralising.

P.S, Might be interesting to start a thread about everyone’s local quirks they think add to enjoyment the game; not formats or games specifically, more the individual cultural approach to golf in different locales. I’m sure we could all learn something!