Handicapped 2011

17 04 2011

Hard to believe that it’s almost a year ago that I put pen to paper (well, technically it was more finger to keyboard) to address the tricky topic of golf handicaps. But with scores at Glacier Greens on the cusp of being entered in the computer for handicap purposes it’s time to look at the basics again.

They’re a funny thing, handicaps. Most people I know at Glacier Greens are honest folk and want to play the best they possibly can. As a player’s game improves, so – obviously – his or her handicap goes down. Or, as in my case, your game goes to hell in a handbasket and your handicap creeps up, albeit ever so slowly. Funnily enough I have yet to hear anyone on the practice putting green complaining that their handicap is too high. Of course, as I wrote last year, if you’re playing nothing but friendly golf you can do with handicaps what you will. There’s a lot to be said for the cut and thrust of handicap negotiations on the first tee, but if you’re in a competition – even Saturday Members’  Morning, where the handicap regulations are known and understood by only a select few – you’re honour bound to play off the correct handicap.

Determining your correct handicap involves a little preparation. “I’m about a ten” is not quite good enough. My present  handicap factor of 10.6, for example, means that I play off 11 from the white tees at Glacier Greens, 12 on the odd occasion I venture off the blues and 10 every Labour Day weekend when I get to embarrass myself  off the red tees in the last round of the Red, White and Blue. To know your current handicap factor, you need to check it on the club computer before each round. If you fail to do this in a tournament you risk either playing off too low a handicap and thus penalising yourself strokes or too high a handicap and being disqualified. As I said earlier, it’s not quite so critical if you’re just playing with your mates but I’d still rather get it right: beating  Glennie, Robinski or the Chief would be tainted if I’d played off too high a handicap – and losing because I’d given them too many strokes just doesn’t bear thinking about!

Anyway, here’s a quick refresher course on the handicap system to get you ready for the new season:

1. Who is responsible for adjusting a player’s handicap factor?

a) The BCGA

b) Golf Canada

c) The Handicap Committee at the club.

2. You probably know that you can only post counting scores during the “active season”. When is the active season in B.C. ?

a) Year round

b) May 1st to October 31st

c) March 1st to November 15th

3. Your course is using “preferred lies”. Should you post your score?

a) Yes, you should post your adjusted gross score.

b) No, a round played using preferred lies is unacceptable for handicap purposes.

4. Adrian plays a number of rounds in Arizona over the winter while his home course at Glacier Greens is under a thick blanket of snow. Should he post these scores?

a) No, because his home course was observing its inactive season.

b) Yes, because his rounds were played on a course during its active season.

c) Yes, and he should buy a beer for all those friends he phoned while he was away to tell them how great it was down in Mesa.

5. A player starts a new scoring record at the beginning of each golf season.

a) True

b) False

6. As you probably know, you should always adjust your gross score before entering your gross score in the computer. This is known as ESC (Equitable Stroke Control) and sets a maximum score you can post on any hole depending on your handicap. What is your maximum score on a hole if…

a) You’re a scratch golfer or better.

b) Your course handicap is between 1 and 18.

c) Your handicap is between 19 and 32.

d) Your handicap is 33 or over.

7. Should ESC be applied to tournament scores?

a) Yes

b) No

8. Which of the following scores are acceptable for handicap purposes?

a) Stroke play

b) Match play

c) An incomplete round

9) Dave and Glen are playing eachother in Match Play. Dave’s course handicap is 11 and Glen’s is 16. On what holes should Glen get strokes?

a) Stroke index holes 1 to 5.

b) Stroke holes 12 to 16.

10) How do you know if you should designate a score as a “tournament score”?


1) The Handicap Committee at your club is responsible for adjusting your handicap factor, should it be deemed necessary.

2) The active season in B.C. is from March 1st to November 15th.

3) Scores made under conditions in which preferred lies were used should indeed be posted.

4) The answer is b) – he definitely should post his scores. If he is a man of honour c) would also apply. Remember, however, that this is Adrian we are talking about.

5) No, your scoring record continues from previous seasons. In most circumstances the best 10 of your last 20 scores will be the basis of your handicap factor.

6) Scratch golfers have an ESC limit of one over par on any given holes; players with a handicap of 1-18 can count two over par; 19-32 can take a triple bogey max and if your handicap is 33 or over you should seriously consider some other masochistic pursuit. Self flagellation, perhaps?

7) Yes, ESC should be applied to all scores entered for handicap purposes.

8) All of the above, both stroke play and match play, as long as at least 13 holes were completed. For uncompleted holes post par plus any handicap strokes you are entitled to on each incomplete hole.

9) Glen gets shots on holes with stroke index 1 – 5, the five hardest holes on the course.

10) Tournaments must be designated as such in advance. Regular events such as Saturday Members’ Morning are not tournaments for handicapping purposes.

Bonus Question:

If the answer to Q2 is that our active season is from March 1st to November 15th and the answer to Q3 is that playing preferred lies should still count for handicapping purposes, why is the computer at Glacier Greens not open for entering scores in mid April?


No idea. Maybe the club captain knows. Or the manager.

Don’t forget that Glenda Kinney, Rick Verbeek and I will be happy to answer any handicap related questions you may have, including the ever popular “Why do I hardly ever play to my handicap?”

All da best,

Dave B.




6 responses

17 04 2011

Bagger…as always a very interesting and enlightening post. I got a few right on your test but can stand to learn a lot more. However that won’t be this year. All the best for a very good and enjoyable season David me boy!

17 04 2011
Bagger Dave

Thank you, Martin. I hope there’ll be a few more enlightened ones around Glacier Greens this year, so I can enlighten a few wallets..


17 04 2011
the great robinsky

Dave: I was wondering if our host club should be giving out handicap parking permits for guys like myself. It would sure come in handy next time I’m at the mall.

17 04 2011
Bagger Dave

I’m shocked at your inappropriate comment, Robin. Anyway, you’re behind me in the line up – my case of the jabbies is a SERIOUS handicap…


17 04 2011
Kevin Hunt

Here is the reason we are not posting scores as of yet:
There are many areas of our course that are outside the l closely-mown area that are not worthy of summer play. When summer play is spoken of it also incudes the holes playing to actual yardage which includes carry and roll, as of which the course is not. This along with the aeration of the greens over the next couple of days is why the computer has not yet opened. The anticipated date of the computer opening is Monday May 1st.
I am currently at Bandon Dunes so do not expect any further reply until after Saturday the 23rd

18 04 2011
Bagger Dave

I see your point Kevin but, as you know, the RCGA handicap manual tells us that ‘scores made when preferred lies or winter rules are in effect must be posted for handicap purposes…unless the committee determines that conditions are so poor that scores should not be posted.’

I’m sure we’ll chat about it when you get back.
Bandon Dunes? You lucky ba$tard!

Dave B.

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