Our Experts Explain

Article Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Handicapping And Course Setup

Posted: 9/12/2012

During the golf season, called the “active season” in the USGA Handicap System™, when scores are acceptable for handicap purposes, players may encounter fluctuating weather conditions—firm and fast conditions or soft and soggy conditions.

Golf clubs should anticipate for these circumstances and are given the tools in the System to make adjustments based on abnormal conditions.  

For average course conditions, assuming one set of tee markers per tee pad, markers are generally placed slightly forward and backward of the center of the tee pad on each hole and the overall average, of all holes, will reflect the middle (average yardage). This is the typical and “best practices” procedure.

What happens, though, when a course is experiencing abnormal conditions? For any abnormal conditions, the golf course setup staff, usually with the help of the club’s Green and Handicap Committees, will ensure that tee markers are adjusted backward or forward more than the usual course setup (e.g., for extremely dry or wet conditions). This helps to compensate for any yardage gained or lost due to these abnormal conditions yet still adhere to the USGA Course Rating™ and Slope Rating® issued by the authorized golf association so players continue to post scores to the same, consistent Ratings. This procedure helps to produce Handicap Differentials™ that reflect the average conditions. See “Section 15” of “The USGA Handicap System” for further reference.

Another question we receive related to this topic is when a player plays a very crowded golf course. For example, during some busy weekends of the active season a course may place the tee markers nearly all the way forward of the tee pad, on nearly every hole, to improve the pace of play. If a player plays from this more forward position throughout the course, and can confirm that it’s not due to abnormal conditions, then the player will derive a temporary USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating to post scores to resulting from the atypical setup. The player finds the chart in “Section 5-2g” of “The USGA Handicap System” and determines the yardage difference from the tees played and yardage at which it was rated. This number is taken to the table in “5-2g” to find the resulting subtraction (or addition, if the yardage played was longer than the average) in USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating and these modified Ratings are utilized and posted for handicap purposes in this special situation. Click HERE for an FAQ on this particular topic.

Remember that golf courses are rated based on average “midseason” conditions—when the majority of rounds are played—and any questions about a golf course’s Ratings can be confirmed with the club, or authorized golf association that rated the course. In addition, if you have any questions surrounding this topic contact the USGA Handicap Department


Rate this article:
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image