September 2022: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

By Kelly Neely, Sr. Director, Handicapping & Course Rating

Although I heard myself cheerfully greet a caller the other day with “You’ve reached the OGA Complaint Department – how may I help you?”, I must admit that despite working in the thorny world of handicapping for many years, not all inquiries I receive are complaints. 

Some are irate complaints.

All joking aside, OGA members are a curious bunch and ask heaps and gobs of thoughtful questions. I am grateful when inquiring minds want to know even a skosh more about the World Handicap System like capping, ESRs, Score Types and hole score adjustments. I’d implore you to keep the inquiries coming, but thankfully I don’t have to.

Q: I’m requesting that my handicap be updated to show scores only. When some members search for me by name, my score, the course I played, and the full date I played are shown. Other members just see a score and the date is shown as month/year. Thank you for making this adjustment to my profile.

A: As a customer service person, I like to fulfill requests as much as possible. But sadly, I can’t always make everyone happy – I’m not pizza. Scoring record displays fall under the Rules of Handicapping and are not within the player’s or administrator’s control.

General Version – Accessible by all active players within a golf club and includes date played, course name, course / slope rating, adjusted gross score, score differential, and adjustments.

Condensed Version – Accessible by all active players within a country and is the same as the General Version, but given its wider availability, omits reference to the day the round was played and the golf course played.

Full Version – For reference by the player to whom the record belongs and their Handicap Committee, this scoring record contains full details of the most recent 20 scores as well as archived scores.

“But why different versions of the same record?”, you may astutely ask. Two reasons – peer review (so your record is appropriately transparent to your fellow club members), and data privacy (at least partially shrouded in secrecy for everyone else).

Q: Do 9-hole scores drop off after so many months? My 9-hole pending score from earlier this year is gone now.  

A: A 9-hole uncombined score sits in a bucket, like a forgotten range ball, until it becomes older than the twentieth score in your scoring record. At that time, it is discarded.

Q: Just wanted to know if someone could look at my account and verify the handicap is correct. I’ve posted seven rounds this season and my handicap hasn’t changed at all. My scores are trending up since last time I posted scores several years ago, but the handicap isn’t following that trend at all – it hasn’t moved.

A: Sometimes we’re glad when our handicaps stagnate like pond water. But this isn’t one of those times. Even if it’s been several years since you last posted a score, if your GHIN record exists in the system, you’ve got to pick up where you left off. So, you did the right thing by resurrecting your original record without an attempt to start over. The bad news is that the calculation of your Handicap Index is correct, even though it’s based on better play back in the good ole days when gas and green fees were cheaper. The good news is that every time you post a score, those former rounds will cycle out, giving you hope and a new handicap.

Q: I noticed my handicap is on some sort of lock. I don’t understand why.  After having recent back surgery and reestablishing my handicap my scores are sometimes way high and sometimes in the low 80’s. I would like that lock removed please.

A: I hate to add insult to injury, but your Handicap Index has been subject to a hard cap. Simply put, capping happens – though that sounds like a bad bumper sticker. In fact, statistics show that the percentage of players capped is higher this year over last, so while it might be a small consolation, you are in great company. This automated procedure of the WHS is triggered if a player’s Handicap Index increases by 3.0 strokes over their Low Handicap Index (soft cap) and prevents any additional upward movement from taking place beyond 5.0 strokes (hard cap). Luckily, the Rules of Handicapping provide a capped player who has a medical issue an open door to their Handicap Committee, who holds the keys to the kingdom.

Q: I played golf this morning and somehow while the phone was in my pocket it recorded a 78. That is not a true score. The 82 I posted right after that is the correct score and the 78 needs to be deleted.

A: I’ve heard of pocket dialing before but never pocket posting. That is all.

Q: What do the letters A, H, and N mean next to scores in GHIN records?

A: They should mean ‘Awesome’, ‘Horrid’ and ‘Never mind’ but they don’t. The following letters are Score Type designations within the player’s scoring record:

H = Home (should be used for a score where a player is an active member)

A = Away

C = Competition (should be used for events that are significant to the membership. Although C scores do not have a direct impact on the calculation of the Handicap Index of a player, they are highly useful as identifiers)

N = Combined 9-hole

P = Penalty (trust me, you don’t want to raise the ire of your Handicap Committee and get one of these, so please post all your scores – bonus points for accuracy)

E = Exceptional (you’ll know you have one of these before the system does – and brace for impact, because your Index is taking a plunge)

Q: I was playing match play and unfortunately lost on hole 15. I think I’m supposed to post my score (my friends think otherwise), but how do I do that when I didn’t finish a hole or even the round?

A: Thank you for the following: 1) for bucking peer pressure and seeking the truth right from the horse’s mouth (yes, I just referred to myself as a horse. I’ve been called worse), and 2) for providing an excellent example of a round in which to illustrate The Three Hole Score Adjustments of Rule 3. (I’ve read that the ‘Rule of Three’ suggests when things come in threes, they are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.)

Holes 1 – 14: Since the best way to post is hole-by-hole, you record your actual strokes taken, plus any penalties. This way, you enter your gross score and for any calamitous blow-up hole where you exceed your maximum Net Double Bogey, the system will automatically make a soothing downward adjustment. As a refresher, Net Double Bogey is par plus two for the double, plus any handicap strokes you were allowed on that hole.

Hole 15: For the hole in which your opponent dealt the knockout stroke, you post your Most Likely Score. Anytime a hole is started but not finished (for any reason), take the number of strokes already taken, plus the number of strokes it will take you to finish the hole based on your best judgment of your own game. Please take into fair account your ability, your position on the hole, and the difficulty of the green. This number cannot exceed your Net Double Bogey max.

Holes 16 – 18: Sadly, your round was cut far too short for your liking, so you pick up your bag and clink your way to the car, pausing briefly to consider a consolatory beverage. Your score for handicap purposes on the final holes are Net Par (also known as par plus any handicap strokes allowed). Note that this is a conservative adjustment and is not Net Double Bogey as many would believe. Why? No need to get greedy when nary a stroke was taken.

Note: For an 18-hole score to be posted, you must play at least 14 holes; for a 9-hole score, 7 must be played. These partial rounds constitute data applicable to a Handicap Index and it is a breach of the Rules to disregard them. Thank you and you’re welcome.

I could go on and on, interminably, but since this list of questions and answers now stands at seven, I’ve broken the Rule of Three by four.