There are many ways one can estimate a golfer’s ability, such as the smoothness of the swing, the length of his tee shots or the scores of the golfer. But the most accurate and common way to measure a golfer’s playing ability is through the course handicap.
Many golfers are confused when it comes to the course handicap. In short, the course handicap is a measure of a golfer’s playing ability based on the tees played for a given course. A lower handicap is better than a higher handicap. For example, a 5 handicap golfer would have a greater playing ability than a 10 handicap golfer.
The handicap is used to calculate a net score. The net score is calculated by subtracting the golfer’s handicap from the number of strokes actually made, called the gross score. The handicap allows a golfer fair competition when playing against a more skilled golfer.
Players with a 0 handicap are called scratch golfers. This means that their net score and their gross score are the same. Players with a handicap better than 0 are called plus golfers. This means that at the end of the round, the plus golfer must add their course handicap to their gross score to calculate their net score. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a golfer whose handicap is approximately 20 is called a bogey golfer. The bogey golfer normally scores close to 90 consistently for 18 holes.
The calculation of a golfer’s course handicap is a somewhat complicated process. Each set of tees on a golf course is given a course rating and a slope rating. The course rating is a numerical value set based on the approximate “good” score on a golf course by a scratch golfer. Such scores vary from golf course to Myrtle Beach golf course. This rating is usually between 67 and 77. The slope rating is a number between 55 and 155 describing the relative difficulty of a golf course for a bogey golfer when compared with a scratch golfer. The course rating of EN Golf Club ranges from 65.9 to 72.2 depending on the tees. EN Golf Club’s slope rating is between 112 and 126.
The course and slope ratings are used to calculate the handicap differential. The differential is calculated by first subtracting the course rating from the 18-hole score, then multiplying the difference by 113 (the average slope rating for a golf course). The product is then divided by the slope rating to yield the handicap differential. This differential is rounded to the nearest tenth. The handicap index is then calculated by averaging the differentials of 10 of the player’s last 20 rounds and multiplying the average by 0.96. Any digits in the handicap index past the tenth’s place are cut off. Finally, the course handicap is calculated by multiplying the handicap index by the slope rating, then dividing the product by 113.
For example, if a player were to score 79 for 18 holes on a Myrtle Beach golf course with a course rating of 69.4 and a slope rating of 119, the handicap would be calculated by first subtracting the Myrtle Beach golf course’s rating, 69.4, from the 18-hole score, 79, which yields a value of 9.6. The 9.6 is then multiplied by 113, making 1084.8, which is divided by the Myrtle Beach golf course’s slope rating, 119, yielding the handicap differential of 9.1. If the 10 best rounds out of the golfer’s last 20 rounds are all 79, then the average of the differentials of the golfer’s best 10 rounds (9.1) is multiplied by 0.96, which equals the handicap index, 8.7. This player’s course handicap is then calculated by multiplying the handicap index, 8.7, by the slope rating, 119, which makes 1035.3. This value is then divided by 113, yielding this golfer’s course handicap, 9. If this golfer were to have a gross score of 81 on this course, then the golfer’s net score would be 72.
Course handicaps are not used by professional golfers, as they are all considered scratch golfers when competing against one another. An amateur golfer’s handicap index is constantly updated according to schedules posted by state and regional golf associations.