OUR EXPERTS EXPLAIN
Handicapping Live Chat: Read the Transcript March 9, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By USGA

Understanding the handicapping system will help avoid any disputes over your strokes. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

The Member Clubhouse live chats are exclusive opportunities for Members to spend an hour learning about specific topics from USGA experts. If you couldn’t participate in the recent live chat with Eric Lahman, manager of Course Rating and Handicapping – or if you wanted to make sure you remembered what was said – use this complete transcript to learn more about the handicapping changes for 2016

Mar 9 2016, 1:20 PM

David Chmiel: Hello, I am David Chmiel, manager of Members content for the USGA. Welcome to our Member Clubhouse Live Handicapping Chat! 

Thank you for being committed to keeping up with the new 2016 Handicapping changes! It is a pleasure to introduce you all to Eric Lahman, manager of Course Rating and Handicapping for the USGA.

Mar 9 2016, 1:28 PM

Thomas Small: Thanks for the invitation.

Mar 9 2016, 1:29 PM

David Chmiel: Thanks for taking the time, Thomas. Where are you from and what's your Handicap Index®?

Mar 9 2016, 1:30 PM

Thomas Small: I am from Huntsville, AL and my index trend is currently 9.2 - way too high. Winter months here though.

Mar 9 2016, 1:31 PM

David Chmiel: Believe me, up here in New Jersey, we feel your pain! How about the rest of you? Where are you joining the chat from?

Mar 9 2016, 1:31 PM

Lindsay Bekken: I'm from Salt Lake City, UT with an Index of 3.5 trying to get down to a 2.4

Mar 9 2016, 1:31 PM

Eric_Lahman: Thank you. I'm excited to be here! We in the Handicapping Department know that it’s important for all golfers to be aware of the changes in 2016 and I am glad to help Members get off to a good start…

Mar 9 2016, 1:31 PM

Susan McGuire: Wilson, North Carolina 14.2

Mar 9 2016, 1:32 PM

Dick Taylor: Dick Taylor from Olympia Wa. Currently in Maui!

Mar 9 2016, 1:32 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, we are almost ready to get started. Just a reminder to our Members that all questions submitted will be considered, but please respect that someone may ask your question first. If we run out of time before we answer your query, stay with us until the end of the hour and we will make sure you get an answer. Eric, take it away...

Mar 9 2016, 1:32 PM

Bill Zaryski: Atlanta. 17.8

Mar 9 2016, 1:33 PM

Thomas Small: Maui?? Nice.

Mar 9 2016, 1:33 PM

Terry Lee: Terry Lee, Indianapolis 13.1

Mar 9 2016, 1:33 PM

Scott Jordan: Fort Worth, Texas. 13.7

Mar 9 2016, 1:33 PM

Eric_Lahman: There are six significant changes made to the USGA Handicap System that went into effect on January 1, 2016. These changes include:

Mar 9 2016, 1:34 PM

Eric_Lahman: Clarification of the definition of a tournament score

Mar 9 2016, 1:34 PM

Eric_Lahman: Alignment with the Rules of Golf and adjusting hole scores

Mar 9 2016, 1:34 PM

Eric_Lahman: Clarify what scores are acceptable when a player is disqualified

Mar 9  2016, 1:34 PM

Eric_Lahman: Appropriate procedure in regards to posting scores when a player anchors a club while making a stroke

Mar 9 2016, 1:35 PM

Eric_Lahman: To strengthen peer review, scores made while playing alone are not acceptable for posting purposes

Mar 9 2016, 1:35 PM

Eric_Lahman: Assist the Handicap Committee when dealing with a player who has a temporary or permanent disability. The Committee may now issue a (temporary) modified Handicap Index (denoted with the letter “M”) and will no longer issue a local handicap (“L”)

Mar 9 2016, 1:36 PM

Eric_Lahman: We have listed detailed information on the 2016 changes on USGA.org-> Handicapping. Please feel free to visit the article “Changes to the Handicap System for 2016 Released” and share this information with your club and fellow golfers.

Mar 9 2016, 1:36 PM

Harry Galloway: Harry Galloway, Folsom, Calif. (Sacramento area)

Mar 9 2016, 1:36 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, we've also gotten a lengthy two-part question from Mr. Robert Greening. Mr. Greening, that will require a lot of time, so we will connect with you offline after the chat. Thanks for your interest!

Mar 9 2016, 1:37 PM

David Chmiel: Eric, @Eddie from Long Island has a question: Why did they change the play alone rule? I posted 48 rounds last year to a 23.7. Most of my rounds were with friends. I do play alone sometimes.

Mar 9 2016, 1:37 PM

Eric_Lahman: Primarily to support peer review, which is a key tenant of the USGA Handicap System. The elimination of solo rounds will strengthen this principle. Rounds played alone have no peer review.
Surveys of playing habits support this change as playing alone generally leads to practice. Playing multiple balls on a hole throughout a round constitutes an unacceptable score. (See Section 5-1e).

Mar 9 2016, 1:39 PM

Harry Galloway: Explain how not allowing posting a score when playing alone strengthens peer review

Mar 9 2016, 1:39 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Harry, thank you for your question. I believe the response above should answer your inquiry.

Mar 9 2016, 1:40 PM

Bob Palmer: This makes sense; some of our members have questioned others who play alone and their resultant handicap.

Mar 9 2016, 1:40 PM

Connor Dolan: What constitutes not playing alone?

Mar 9 2016, 1:41 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Connor, as long as someone accompanies the player during the round (e.g., fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart) the player is not playing alone.

Mar 9 2016, 1:41 PM

Eric_Lahman: The individual should have the ability to form a better basis to support or dispute scores that have been posted to a player’s scoring record.

Mar 9 2016, 1:42 PM

Thomas Small: Can the Handicap Committee waive the "play alone"

Mar 9 2016, 1:43 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Thomas, no this is a rule not a club policy.

Mar 9 2016, 1:44 PM

Eric Baatz: So, if I'm a single added to a threesome to create a foursome, I'm not alone. The other three people don't have to do anything, just exist. Right?

Mar 9 2016, 1:44 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Eric As long as someone accompanies the player during the round (e.g., fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart) the player is not playing alone. Scores don't have to be attested.

Mar 9 2016, 1:44 PM

Eric_Lahman: The player must be accompanied for at least seven holes to post a nine-hole score or 13 holes to post an 18-hole score.

Mar 9 2016, 1:45 PM

Eric_Lahman: For the holes played alone, the player would treat these as not played under the Rules of Golf and post according to “Par plus” any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive.

Mar 9 2016, 1:45 PM

Bob Palmer: And they don't have to be a club member, correct?

Mar 9 2016, 1:46 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Bob, that is correct.

Mar 9 2016, 1:47 PM

Dick Taylor: Even if the friend knows nothing about golf/rules?

Mar 9 2016, 1:48 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Mr. Taylor, the individual should have the ability to form a better basis to support or dispute scores that have been posted to a player’s scoring record.

Mar 9 2016, 1:48 PM

Robert Greening: I strongly agree that scores from playing alone should not be posted, but I am also a strong supporter in the position that tournament scores should be posted twice because those are the true reflection of a golfer’s ability.

Mar 9 2016, 1:49 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Robert. Thanks for the support on the new rule. Tournament Scores do go into the most recent 20 until cycled out and are also kept in an eligible T-Score file for possible reduction. Section 10-3.

Mar 9 2016, 1:51 PM

Robert Greening: Attended my 5th course-rating class yesterday hosted by Lee Rainwater, a really great instructor. His presentation of measuring the eye level overhanging part of a tree was great vs. the old measurement of measuring to the trunks was most helpful. Now we just need to get the word out to the more seasoned raters who are still using the old method.

Mar 9 2016, 1:51 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Robert, Thanks for the feedback and also for your support of the USGA Course Rating™ System as well.

Mar 9 2016, 1:52 PM

Terry Lee: Eric, I'm on the handicap committee at my club. Any suggestions as to how to get players to let the committee know their playing partners are "manipulating” their handicaps?

Mar 9 2016, 1:53 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Terry, the club might consider offering an anonymous comment box for anyone the Handicap Committee should investigate.

Mar 9 2016, 1:54 PM

Eric_Lahman: Since the Handicap Committee cannot be policing all rounds, this is a good way to leverage the players to be the Committee’s eyes on the course.

Mar 9 2016, 1:54 PM

Terry Lee: Thanks, good idea.

Mar 9 2016, 1:55 PM

David Chmiel: @Harry, thanks for your questions. We want to keep the conversation going and cover some more topics, so Eric and his team will get back to you after the chat.

Mar 9 2016, 1:56 PM

Eric Baatz: Is there a downloadable (for example, PDF version) of the Handicap Manual?

Mar 9 2016, 1:57 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Eric, Good suggestion. There isn't, but anyone can simply copy/paste the info out of the online manual for educational purposes, which we'll reference at the end of this chat.

Mar 9 2016, 1:58 PM

Paul Ochab: My club typically hosts between 10-15 events a season. The Handicap Committee has designated that each of these rounds be posted as Tournament Scores. Is this following the definition laid out in the USGA Handicap System? Is there a number of T-Scores we should be posting each season?

Mar 9 2016, 1:59 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Paul, sounds like you are involved with a very active golf club! The 2016 changes to the USGA Handicap System have provided additional guidance for Committees who often find themselves asking this question.

Mar 9 2016, 1:59 PM

Eric_Lahman: The updated definition of a T-Score places a stronger emphasis on “significant” events. Although there may be many events throughout the season, the Committee should really be concerned with what tournaments are most significant to the club. For example, a Club Championship should be designated as a T-Score and not a weekly qualifying match.

Mar 9 2016, 2:00 PM

Eric_Lahman: As for the number of T-Scores that should be posted a year, the USGA Handicap System manual does not provide exact guidance on this. The USGA is more concerned that the events designated as T-Scores are significant to the calendar year and can’t be missed out on because they only come around once in a while and players are gearing up in advance for the event.

Mar 9 2016, 2:01 PM

Eric_Lahman: It’s important to note that too many T-Scores can dilute the effectiveness of Section 10-3 (Reduction of Exceptional Tournament Scores). Please visit Section 2 of “The USGA Handicap System” for the definition or “Tournament Score.”

Mar 9 2016, 2:01 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, folks. We are half-way through the hour. We appreciate the lively discussion and hope that we are giving you the information you need. Please keep the questions coming!

Mar 9 2016, 2:01 PM

Susan McGuire: if you play in a monthly league, are those scores posted as T scores?

Mar 9 2016, 2:03 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Susan, generally speaking monthly league scores are not significant to be designated as T-Scores.

Mar 9 2016, 2:04 PM

Dick Taylor: My club is having issues with people playing from different tees during competitions even after adjusting Handicaps. Some want to restrict by age, and others want to restrict by handicap. Any suggestions?

Mar 9 2016, 2:04 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Mr.Taylor the beauty of the Handicap System is that it provides the ability for players to compete equitably from different tees.

Mar 9 2016, 2:05 PM

Eric_Lahman: Some committees choose to flight their tournaments by Handicap Index or Course Handicap™,  which is to their discretion.

Mar 9 2016, 2:05 PM

Eric_Lahman: Section 9-5 has more information on how to determine flights

Mar 9 2016, 2:07 PM

Thomas Small: Is it possible to have multiple Handicap Indexes legally?

Mar 9 2016, 2:07 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Thomas, yes, but a player who belongs to more than one golf club must do either of the following: they must register as a multi-member with the authorized golf association or computation service and return all scores to all clubs together with the USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating®, and date.

Mar 9 2016, 2:08 PM

Eric_Lahman: Failure to post all acceptable scores at all clubs produces a Handicap Index that is not based on the player's best 10 differentials of the last 20 scores and consequently may not be termed a Handicap Index.

Mar 9 2016, 2:08 PM

Terry Lee: Eric, how is a Rules change decided? Is the membership asked to provide comments prior to implementing the change?

Mar 9 2016, 2:09 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Terry, We have multiple committees at the USGA that require approval before a change is made.

Mar 9 2016, 2:10 PM

Eric_Lahman: Over the last four years, those Committees have debated and reviewed these changes before coming to a final conclusion. The Committees are primarily comprised of State and Regional Golf Association staff, your local experts.

Mar 9 2016, 2:10 PM

Eric Baatz: I'm very new to this and therefore don't have a sense of history. I was wondering if the calculations involved in determining a handicap have changed in the last, say, five years.

Mar 9 2016, 2:11 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Eric, the calculations have not changed.

Mar 9 2016, 2:12 PM

Bob Palmer: We have a very popular two-man match play by flights event played 3 times a season. Many good rounds are played in these events. Is it ok to designate these rounds as T scores (which we do)?

Mar 9 2016, 2:13 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Bob we have some questions about this scenario so we will get back to you after the chat

Mar 9 2016, 2:13 PM

Paul Ochab: Can I enter my own scores without going through a golf club?

Mar 9 2016, 2:13 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Paul, in order to establish or maintain a Handicap Index, a player must be a member of a licensed golf club. The licensed golf club is the entity that issues a Handicap Index to its members.

Mar 9 2016, 2:17 PM

Thomas Small: Does it have to be a golf club? I've heard of Associations doing this. Not sure that information was correct though.

Mar 9 2016, 2:17 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Thomas, as long as the definition of a golf club is met, an association may offer membership to a licensed golf club.

Mar 9 2016, 2:18 PM

David Chmiel: @Robert, we appreciate the question you've asked about Course Rating details. Since it's not necessarily on topic right now, Eric will answer this after the chat.

Mar 9 2016, 2:18 PM

David Chmiel: We are coming to the final 15 minutes, so let's finish strong. Thanks for the great input, folks!

Mar 9 2016, 2:19 PM

Harry Galloway: The Northern California Golf Association, NCGA, has an excellent online Handicap Certification Program. Maybe they could make it available to other associations.

Mar 9 2016, 2:19 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Harry the NCGA does a terrific job ensuring that their clubs complete the USGA Club Licensing requirements.

Mar 9 2016, 2:20 PM

Eric_Lahman: For those who aren’t part of the NCGA, the USGA also offers an Online Handicap Seminar. Stay tuned until the end for the link.

Mar 9 2016, 2:20 PM

Lindsay Bekken: Can a player post a score during the inactive season of the player’s home club?

Mar 9 2016, 2:21 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Lindsay, scores made at any golf course observing an inactive season are not acceptable for handicap purposes. Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club from which the player receives a Handicap Index is observing an inactive season.

Mar 9 2016, 2:22 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Lindsay, if you are playing at a golf course in Florida in January and your club is currently inactive in the Northeast you should still post your score to expose the round for peer review and make sure your scoring record in updated with your most recent 20 scores and any eligible T-Scores.

Mar 9 2016, 2:23 PM

Bob Palmer: Eric, any other new rules we should chat about?

Eric_Lahman: @Bob, The USGA is looking at the possibility of a World Handicap System. We will keep everyone posted online and in the next chat.

Mar 9 2016, 2:23 PM

Lindsay Bekken: Okay, thanks!

Mar 9 2016, 2:23 PM

Susan McGuire: Who determines if there is an inactive season?

Mar 9 2016, 2:23 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Susan, the authorized golf association in your area.

Mar 9 2016, 2:26 PM

Bill Zaryski: Is it acceptable to not enter a score for handicap purposes, that meets all the required criteria (e.g.golfer not playing alone), but is played in terrible conditions that result in a round with a score far above the "normal" scores for that golfer? For instance, hard rain or very cold.

Mar 9 2016, 2:27 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Bill it is up to the club handicap committee to decide whether or not scores should be posted. [If the club's decision for the day is to post, all acceptable scores mustbe posted.]

Mar 9 2016, 2:27 PM

Eric_Lahman: Generally, clubs will decide that preferred lies should be used if course conditions warrant, but they must determine this.

Mar 9 2016, 2:27 PM

Robert Greening: How can you adjust a score for posting when you use alternate tees on some holes, i.e., holes where short hitters cannot reach the fairway from the longer tees?

Mar 9 2016, 2:28 PM

Eric_Lahman: @Robert, we do have a procedure in place for mixed/combo tees.

Mar 9 2016, 2:28 PM

Eric_Lahman: Please consult "Section 5-2g" of "The USGA Handicap System" for those details.

Mar 9 2016, 2:29 PM

David Chmiel: Sorry to say that the end has come... Thanks again to all of you for supporting the Member Clubhouse and the Handicapping department. Your support is integral to preserving golf’s traditions. We apologize if we ran out of time before we could get to your question. If you still have a pressing question, please contact the Handicapping team by phone at 908-324-2300 or via email at HDCPQuestions@usga.org. For a regular dose of Handicapping information, check out these sources:

Mar 9 2016, 2:29 PM

David Chmiel:

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Thomas Small: Eric and David. Thanks for all the information provided. It gave me some things to think about.

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Harry Galloway: Eric Thank You for the "Chat"

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Connor Dolan: Thanks!

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Paul Ochab: Thanks very much this was great

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Lindsay Bekken: Thanks again, this was very informational!

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Eric_Lahman: Thank you all – we really appreciate your time and participation. Look forward to doing it again! Thanks for your support of the USGA Handicap System and USGA Members Program!

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Scott Jordan: Thanks, Eric!

Mar 9 2016, 2:30 PM

Susan McGuire: Thank you.

Mar 9 2016, 2:31 PM

Robert Greening: Looking forward to the next opportunity to chat and hopefully a chat solely about course rating.

 

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