Handicap Hub: Nerding Out on the Numbers | Oregon Golf Association

Handicap Hub: Nerding Out on the Numbers

By Kelly Neely, Sr. Director of Handicapping
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We all know the famous quote by the much-beloved Arnold Palmer –“Golf is a game of inches. The most important are the six inches between your ears.” Truer (and wiser) words were never spoken, but golf is also a game of numbers in general, especially when it comes to handicapping and course rating. Even those golfers who wouldn’t readily label themselves as “nerds” seem to be more than a little interested in the number crunching and statistical evidence to be discovered once you carry a USGA Handicap Index.

Most of the time the interest is presented as – “Why Did My Handicap Plummet by One Stroke Since the Last Revision?” or “What Do You Mean I Have To Give You Five Strokes?” but I digress. Let’s examine some facts, figures and other oddities.

The number of rounds posted by OGA members during the 2017 season. Note this isn’t number of rounds actually played. The moral here is – we need more data! To be clear – we need more data that is truly accurate. Click Here for "Our Favorite Excuses for Not Posting a Score"
The number of 2017 Penalty Scores levied by OGA Handicap Committees for failure to post scores. Yep, the USGA Handicap System bestows to the Committee the right to attach a Penalty Score if they discover missing data in scoring records. Trust me, you don’t want one of these.
The number of women in the OGA with Handicap Indexes between +3.4 – 15.0.
The number of men in the OGA with Handicap Indexes between +3.4 – 5.5.
The average Index for women and men, respectively, in the OGA. Right in line with the National Average.
The number of times you will beat your Handicap.
The number of times you will beat your Handicap by three strokes.
The odds that a player with a 20.0 Handicap Index would shoot ten strokes below that Index.
The number of strokes shaved off your Handicap Index if you’ve carded two LOW Tournament Scores – we’re talking an average of eight strokes below your Index. Why two T scores? Because you shouldn’t be “punished” for just one lights-out round.

More Nerd Numbers - On the Course

Example 1: The number of extra strokes a male golfer must give a female golfer, both playing Sunriver Woodlands white tees. This is a requisite rule of the Handicap System, as per Section 3-5: “Players Competing from Different Tees or Men and Women from the Same Tees.” Conversion to respective Course Handicaps doesn’t take care of the inequity here. You must proceed to do some math by subtracting the difference in the Course Ratings between the two, with .5 or greater rounded up:

75.1  -  Sunriver Woodlands White Tees (Women)
69.4  -  Sunriver Woodlands White Tees (Men)
5.7  (rounded to six)

Example 2: Here are no less than eight numbers you need to know before teeing off: 

1  -  Your Handicap Index
-  Your Course Handicap 
3  -  Maximum number of strokes you can take on any given hole (ESC - Equitable Stroke Control) 
-  Your Opponent's Handicap  
-  Your Opponent's Course Handicap  
-  The Course Rating & Slope Rating of the tees you are playing. We count this as one - they are basically meaningless when separated
-  Number of strokes to be given or received
8  -  Yardages

SIDE NOTE:  this number could balloon if you’re thinking ahead to the number of...

9  -  Water carries
10  -  Number of golf balls in your bag to navigate them

Even More Nerd Numbers – Course Rating & Slope Rating

Example 1: Notice the same Slope Ratings, with a notable difference in Course Rating. The Slope shows the relative (the most important word in understanding these concepts) level of difficulty for the higher handicapped player compared to the Scratch golfer. For each of these courses, the player would have the same Course Handicap, but they are playing to courses that have 4.5 (Men) and 5.9 (Women) strokes worth of difference between them in difficulty.

Old Macdonald, Green  -  77.8 / 137
Broken Top, Gold/Silver  -  71.9 / 137

RedTail, Black  -  74.4 / 137
Portland GC, Blue/White  -  69.9 / 137

Example 2: Notice the Yardages are almost identical, but the Course Rating & Slope Rating is drastically different. This illustrates the importance of looking at all three numbers so you can choose the tee best suited to both your ability and enjoyment of the game:

Portland GC, White  -  74.7 / 135 at 5,894 yards
Sandelie, White  -  72.5 / 116 at 5,894 yards

Riverside G&CC, Blue-Long  -  71.9 / 131 at 6,467 yards
Desert Peaks, Black  -  69.0 / 112 at 6,462 yards

Interested in delving into more handicapping and course rating factoids? Contact Kelly (kelly@oga.org) or Gretchen (gretchen@oga.org)

Oregon Golf Course Superintendent's Association
First Tee of Greater Portland
Oregon Chapter PGA