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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

 

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