20 04 2010

No bad jokes, please, about your handicap being your hook, slice or tendency to brooker putts under pressure. This week, as promised, the blog is going to be slightly more serious – testing your knowledge of the handicap system and how to use it properly.

First off, if you’re playing for fun with your buddies and not entering scores in the computer, you can do whatever you want with handicaps (or the rules of golf, for that matter) as long as you accept that you’re no longer playing ‘proper’ golf. In our group, for example, we insist during the week that el bandito Juan plays off a lower handicap than his Saturday morning cap says he should and that Lairdo gets extra shots because we know it makes for a closer game. Negotiating handicaps on the first tee is, after all, a time honoured custom, skill and source of enjoyment. My mate Peter, for instance, has a talent for handicap negotiation that is rarely equalled by anything he does with his clubs over the next 18 holes. He nearly always manages to chisel me out of a couple of extra strokes per round because of some sob story or another and more fool me for falling for it time after time.

However, once you’ve decided that you’re going to play proper golf and enter your score in the computer, you’ll want to adhere to the handicap system. So here are a few questions to help you on your way:

1. You probably know that scores are posted only during the ‘active season’. Who decides when this is?

a) The handicap committee

b) The club manager

c) The BCGA

2. Should you post scores from rounds played on an away course during its active season when your home course is inactive?

a) Yes

b) No

3. You probably know that there is a maximum score you can post on any hole relative to par depending on your course handicap. It’s known as ESC (Equitable Stroke Control). What is the maximum score you can post if you:

 a) are a  scratch golfer?

b) have a handicap between 1 and 18?

c) have a handicap between 19 and 32?

4. What is the maximum number of holes for which ESC can be used in any given round?

a) 9 holes

b) 13 holes

c) There is no limit

5. When you enter any score (including tournaments) in the computer, should you adjust your score for ESC?

a) Yes

b) No

6. Should you enter Saturday Morning Men’s Club scores as tournament scores?

a) Yes

b) No

7. In match play, you probably know that that the higher handicap golfer (for example the Chief, hcp 16) receives the entire difference between his handicap and that of the lower handicap golfer (let’s say John, hcp 4). But where does he get these strokes?

a) Stroke holes 1 to 12 (i.e. the 12 hardest stroke holes)

b) Stroke holes 4 to 16 (i.e. the 12 holes where they would both get shots from a scratch golfer)

8. Should you post scores from match play as well as stroke play?

a) Yes

b) No

9. To enter an 18 hole score on the computer how many holes do you have to complete and what do you do about the hole or holes you didn’t play?

a) 9 holes

b) 13 holes

c) 17 holes

10. When should you post a score?

a) As soon as possible after the round

b) Anytime prior to your next round

c) When you see Rick Verbeek coming towards you with an angry look on his face.


1. c) The BCGA. ( At Glacier Greens it’s the responsibility of the handicap committee, in conjunction with the club captain and the greens director, to pass this information on).

2. a) Yes. Always.

3. a) One over par on any given hole  b) Two over par   c) Three over par

4. c) You use Equitable Stroke Control on every hole.

5. Yes.

6. No, unless it’s a special event designated in advance as a tournament by the handicap committee (e.g. the Club Championship).

7. a) You always receive your shots on the hardest stroke holes – it’s where you need them most. ( And no, you can’t save up shots you didn’t need early on in the round for later use…).

8. a) Yes. And if there are holes you didn’t complete you should enter your most likely score for those holes.

9. b) 13 holes. For any unplayed holes you should post par plus any handicap strokes you would receive on that hole. 

10. a) As soon as possible after each round, in order to keep your handicap factor as current as possible. ( Answer c is obviously wrong, as the Beaker never has an angry expression on his face).

So how did you do? There is no pass mark – the idea is just to help members at Glacier Greens to be more knowledgeable about the handicap system, which has one basic purpose: to make golf as fair as possible. And – apart from when Robin, Glennie and I are trying to screw an extra shot or two out of  Bandito Juan on the first tee – we all want that, don’t we?

P.S. If you have any questions about the handicap system, please feel free to ask Rick Verbeek, Glenda Kinney or myself. If we don’t know the answer we should be able to find it out. I understand there’s a rules/handicap info evening planned for the near future. We’ll keep you posted.

P.P.S. Talking of rules – wasn’t that a cool gesture by Brian Davis on the weekend to call a penalty on himself  in the playoff at the Verizon Heritage PGA Tour event and thus concede the tournament? It cost him a few bucks ($400,000 apparently) but it did his reputation – and golf’s – no end of good. I’ll try to remember that next Saturday when I’m stuck in a hazard and I don’t think anyone else is watching…

All da best.

Dave B.




8 responses

20 04 2010

Thanks for the time and effort put into this Dave. I did reasonably well on the quiz. Hadn’t been in touch with the Brian Davis incident, but it sure is good for him and for golf, as you said. However, what else would you expect from someone named Davis, even if he has the ‘e’ missing!

20 04 2010
Bagger Dave

You’re welcome, Martin. I actually enjoyed going through the handicap book as I felt I was learning a lot. It’s worth googling the Brian Davis story – it makes you proud to be a golfer even if, as you say, he can’t spell his surname properly!


20 04 2010

Good stuff Dave. I got most of them right. I have always entered my Sat. scores as tournament scores but now I know better. As for John….sometimes I feel sorry for him because he always has to give us shots but it usually doesn’t last long.

20 04 2010
Bagger Dave

I used to enter my Saturday scores as tournaments too, Robin. The thinking is that tournament scores carry special weighting when calculating your handicap, so they need to be special events.

Please don’t feel sorry for John. However many shots he gives us he usually seems to have his hand in someone’s pocket at the end of each round. And let’s not get started on that Glen Parsons – club handicap champion says it all, I think…


21 04 2010

Hi DB…good post, learned a lot. Some queries:

#2) If I play an away course with an active computer, how do I post it our computer if we’re not active? Do I just wait until such a time as our system is active? (see #10 – what if our course is not active for a month after the away course)

#8) How does one determine the most likely score for a hole not completed in match play? Is that just what one thinks is average or would we try to look at our past scores in the computer to come up with a more accurate average?

#9) How does it work if you started on #10 and played 13 holes (e.g. 10-18 then 1,2,3,4)? Can I still enter this as a score? I’m just thinking this because sometimes I play on Friday night and we start on the 10th because the Mixer is on the front.

Thanks…great post!

21 04 2010
Bagger Dave

Good questions, Ben. I’ll try to answer them in order:

1. If Glacier Greens is not active when an away course is, you can enter your score through the pro shop here or, if it’s on, through our clubhouse computer. It’s fairly straightforward as long as you know the course rating and slope of the away course. As of now, you can’t enter scores through the BGCA website because Glacier is not hooked up to that.

2. The most likely score on an unfinished hole in match play is exactly that – what you would probably have scored if you had finished the hole. For example, if your opponent concedes the hole and you have a 20 foot putt left it might be reasonable to assume you would get down in two putts. If he’s already won the hole and tells you to pick up your 2 foot putt, it’s fair to assume you would have made it. It’s not an exact science – just your best guess.

3. No problem. Just count the 13 holes you played and then par plus handicap for the remaining holes. In your case, because you’re a 10 handicap, you would enter bogey for holes 5,6,7 and 9 (you get shots on these holes) and par for #8.

Hope this all makes sense!

Dave B.

25 04 2010
Club Handicap Champion

Hey, the name says it all.Questions on the above topic? Just ask me.

26 04 2010
Bagger Dave

As I’m already under the threat of legal action from Mr P Dobbs I shall resist the temptation to make any reference to the words ‘handicap’ and ‘Parsons’ appearing in the same sentence…


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