Tuesday , June 27, 2017  
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  Understanding the Handicap System Part 1  
  The primary reason why most players do not have a formal handicap rating is that
they find the calculations much too complicated.  Hopefully, after reading this, you
will have a better understanding of how the handicap system works.

What is a handicap?  Put simply:  A handicap allows every player to fairly compete
against any other player, no matter what their level of play.  For instance, any
player in the world can compete against Tiger Woods on any given day, on any
given course.  Your handicap would allow you to subtract a specific amount of
strokes from your final score (in stroke play) so that at the end of the match, 
you would be on an equal footing with your opponent.  Your handicap is the
amount of strokes given to you based on your level of play as a golfer. 

The first step in establishing your handicap is to join a licensed golf club (an organization
of at least ten individual members that operates under bylaws to supervise golf activities,
provide peer reviews and maintain the intergrity of the USGA Handicap System).  Your
first step is to just ask your local club pro to direct you to a local licensed golf club.  If you
don't have a licensed golf club in your area, you can start one yourself.  What follows
is the criteria you must follow:

Members of a golf club must have regular opportunities to play golf with each other. 
They must be able to return scores personally.  The scores must be readily available
for inspection by others.

Each golf club must determine its type.  A golf club is one of three types:

1)  It is located at a single specific golf course with a USGA Course Rating and
     a USGA Slope Rating.  The golf club's scoring records should be kept there.

2)  Its members are affiliated or known to one another via a business, fraternal,
     ethnic or social organization.  The majority of members had an affiliatioin prior
     to organizing the club.

3)  The members had no prior affiliation and a majority of the recruiting and sing-
     up of the membership is done by solicitation to the general public.

A handicap is calculated by using a formula that measures how many strokes over
par, a player should be able to play.  A golfer's net score (handicaped score) is
determined by subtracting the player's handicap from the gross score (actual strokes
taken).  The net scores (handicapped scores) are taken from all competitors and
the lowest score wins.

The handicap system is meant to show a player's potential, not his/her average
score.  A golfer's handicap is not fixed but is regularly adjusted to the increases
or decreases in a golfer's scores.

Handicaps are calculated using several variables:  1)  The player's scores from most
recent rounds.  2)  Course Rating.  3)  Course Slope Rating.  A handicap "differential"
is calculated from the scores, using the Course Slope rating and the Course Rating.
The players handicap differentials are used to calculate the players handicap.

The USGA has assigned a Course Rating and Slope Rating to every officially rated
golf course:

A)  The Course Rating is a number that falls between 67 and 77 which is used
to measure the average score by a scratch golfer (a par shooter) on that particular

B)  The Slope Rating is a number between 55 and 155 which describes the difficulty
of a course for a bogey golfer (a player that shoots 18 over par). 

These two numbers derived from the Slope Rating and the Course Rating are used
to calculate a player's handicap differential.  The differential is used to adjust a
players score  in relation to par (according to the Slope and Course Rating).

by Gary j. Zalimeni                             Continued in Part II  -  November Edition
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