Get ready to hit the links! The USGA has identified March 7-11 as #USGAHandicapWeek. The idea is to create awareness of the handicap index, how it is used and to emphasize that it is something all golfers, good or bad, should have.
The handicap index benefits all golfers because it enables someone like me with a high index to play on a level field with someone with a lower index. You don’t have to be a great, skilled golfer to post your scores and establish an index – I’m proof of that! The handicap index allows golfers of different abilities to tee off as equal players.
I’ve been posting some information about handicapping on GAM social media this week in effort to address some of the most common questions we get about handicapping:
Can I post 9-hole scores? Yes! A 9-hole score is every bit as legit as an 18-hole score. So post it!
I’m a woman and played from tees that are only rated for men. Should I just use the men’s rating? No! The same set of tees will have a different rating for men versus women. Use the USGA Handicap System Manual’s chart in Section 5 to make the adjustment. http://www.usga.org/Handicapping/handicap-manual.html#!rule-14379
It isn’t complicated – honestly. If you can add and subtract you can quickly figure out what your slope and rating should be from a set of tees that has not been rated for your gender.
I’m playing in a charity fundraiser event. Should I post that as a tournament score? No. The USGA recently issued a more detailed explanation of what does and doesn’t constitute a tournament score. Member play days? No. Charity fundraisers? No. Weekly league play? No. In the “yes” category would be: qualifying and championship rounds in USGA events and national competitions; club championships; member-guest events; President’s Cup competition.
When I started posting information about #USGAHandicapWeek, some took the opportunity to vent about the new USGA rule deeming rounds of golf played solo to be unsuitable for posting. If you understand the reason behind the change, it might be more palatable. With so many folks traveling to Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Australia, etc. to play golf, the USGA is working with the other golf entities around the globe to try and make all of the different systems more similar. This would make it easier for Americans to play and post scores from overseas and for golfers from other countries to play in North America and post scores. It would make it so that an American teeing off at St. Andrews has a handicap that means the same thing as a Scottish golfer playing the same course. The USGA was the only golf governing body that allowed rounds played alone to be posted, so the new guidelines were made to put us in step with the rest of the golfing world.
Another source of irritation for some are USGA pace-of-play rules. The main complaint is that these rules “ take the fun out of the game.” No one wants to play speed golf every time they’re on the links but keeping things moving and playing “ready golf” makes the game more enjoyable for everyone. It is no fun to be behind a group that is moving around the links at a snail’s pace due to hitting too many provisional balls when it is not necessary or not knowing the rules about getting relief. I love golf but I don’t want to be out there for six hours to play a four-hour round. So really, pace of play puts the fun back into the game!
Follow the GAM on Twitter @OfficialGAM