skip to main content

Filling in the Blanks – Adjusting a Score Before Posting

Before posting your score, it's important to check to see if any adjustments are required to ensure your Handicap Index remains accurate.

Late one summer afternoon after work, Karmen and Charles went to the local golf course with hopes of playing 18 holes before dark. After some stretching and a few practice putts, they joined up with two friends and decided to play a four-ball match.

Charles was excited for the round and friendly competition. He has a Handicap Index® of 15.0, but on this day, he did not quite measure up to it. He picked up on 10 holes because he either could not better his partner’s score, or because they had conceded the hole as a team. He did help with two pars, which won and tied the respective holes. Other than that, Karmen was on her own. She had a great round, even better than her 5.2 Handicap Index, but it was not enough to overcome their opponents, who won the match, 3 and 2.

After the round, Charles noticed Karmen posting her score for handicap purposes, and asked if he could do so, too, even though he did not finish many of the holes. Fortunately, Karmen serves on the Handicap Committee at her golf club. She directed him to Rule 3 of the Rules of Handicapping – Adjustment of Hole Scores.

First, Charles used his mobile app to determine his Course Handicap™ of 14, which was based on his Handicap Index and the tees played. Second, he scanned the scorecard for unfinished holes and used the most likely score procedure to come up with the appropriate score for each one. In accordance with the Rules of Handicapping, he simply started with the number of strokes taken on each hole before he picked up (including penalty strokes) and added on the number of strokes he would have most likely required to complete the hole from that position, using the guidelines in the rule book.

His third step, which is typically handled automatically when posting hole-by-hole in the mobile app, was to make sure none of his scores, including the ones using the most likely score procedure, exceeded net double bogey. For example, on the par-5 15th hole with a stroke index of 2, his net double bogey maximum was 8 (double bogey plus the one handicap stroke he received on the hole). While he determined his most likely score to be a 9, the score recorded for handicap purposes would be an 8. Charles ultimately reduced three individual hole scores – another sign that it just was not his day.

Since Charles did not play holes 17 and 18 because the match had already ended, he was required to post his score using the hole-by-hole feature. This is because when 10-17 holes are played, an 18-hole Score Differential™ is calculated by adding the Score Differential from the holes played to the player’s expected Score Differential over the number of remaining holes, which is based on their current Handicap Index. In this example, the 16-hole Score Differential from the holes Charles played will be added to his expected Score Differential over two holes, which is based on his 15.0 Handicap Index.

After inputting his hole-by-hole scores, all the math was taken care of automatically. He thanked Karmen for teaming up with him as well as for sharing her handicapping knowledge. He left the course knowing there are provisions that make it easy to post a score for both unfinished holes and holes not played, and felt encourage about playing better his next time out.

Visit the USGA’s website for a variety of education resources about the World Handicap System and Rules of Handicapping.