Hole Handicap - What does it actually mean

dietDrThunder

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It shatters the common belief that the holes' handicap are ranked for difficulty. I wonder how many courses actually look at it this way...
I readily admit that this is what I thought. Thanks very much for the information.
 

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Very good info, learning something everyday on THP !!!
 

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Interesting but I don't agree. There are so many unknowns that are not being considered in this method. But it works on this course so keep on keeping on
 

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Interesting but I don't agree. There are so many unknowns that are not being considered in this method. But it works on this course so keep on keeping on
Just curious what you consider unknowns that are not considered. Not nickpicking, just asking...

They compiled real world data that was specific to the course and adjusted the hadicaps accordingly. Not sure what additional stuff could be factored in when they approached it the way they did.
 

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Just curious what you consider unknowns that are not considered. Not nickpicking, just asking...

They compiled real world data that was specific to the course and adjusted the hadicaps accordingly. Not sure what additional stuff could be factored in when they approached it the way they did.
How many outsiders play the course? Is this just the membership? Did the golfers play different tees or was it the same set of tees? Just to name a few
 

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I would say that utilizing the membership data would make it a better sample. And I can't imagine the pro asking for someone's card that was an outsider, for handicapping purposes. The ones who play it ever day are the ones that would provide the tightest tolerances in the test.

And if it's like any course around here, the membership typically play the same tees routinely. I know at my old course, 80% of the rounds were played from the blues. In the summer, we would hop back to the tips, and in the winter, some guys would slide up to the white, but if you took that into account in the data, or simply excluded it and just used the same tees for the data, it would work out over the 10 year period of the data compilation.
 

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Hole Handicap - What does it actually mean

Interesting but I don't agree. There are so many unknowns that are not being considered in this method. But it works on this course so keep on keeping on
The information gathered was done so in the best possible way to adhere to the USGA guidelines regarding assigning handicap ratings for holes. To assign handicap rating based on anything other than score differentials, is doing so against the rules of golf.
 
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Easy8

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Great info! My home course needs to do this.
 

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Thanks for this. It's clear now haha
 

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The information gathered was done so in the best possible way to adhere to the USGA guidelines regarding assigning handicap ratings for holes. To assign handicap rating based on anything other than score differentials, is doing so against the rules of golf.
I don't think it's "...against the rules of golf.". But, it goes against their recommendation.

I don't see how anyone can logically agree that this method doesn't make sense. The only conflict, would be mentally, because someone has always grown up thinking hole handicap is based on hole difficultly. That person has to cope with changing their mindset. But, like we've discussed before, it's only truly relevant during match play. Although, historically, most courses have tended to put even #'ed handicap holes on one 9 and odd #'ed handicap holes on another 9...to come closer to have the same number of "given" strokes allocated equally to both 9's.
 

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Then don't play net strokes. problem solved. Differential rating is how the USGA recommends rating holes.

It sure does sound rough being a scratch golfer. I will make sure to card some double bogeys so I can avoid the stresses of giving strokes.
The information gathered was done so in the best possible way to adhere to the USGA guidelines regarding assigning handicap ratings for holes. To assign handicap rating based on anything other than score differentials, is doing so against the rules of golf.
I had a long conversation with a couple of club members about this the other day who are involved in the rules and tournament committee at my club. As it turns out, the course adapted the change to membership stroke based difficulty ratings during the last audit purely on USGA recommendation.

This recommendation is based on whether more tournament rounds are played as stroke play or match play. If the course experiences more stroke based tournaments, 17-2b is recommended, which is the regression model. Rather than taking into account your differential equation in 17-2a where groupings of skill are compared against each other, all scores (encouraged to have 400 or more) are compiled and placed into an equation with the course ratings. Rather than me explain it further:

An alternative method of allocating handicap strokes which uses all data points is to use linear regression. A minimum of 400 hole-by-hole scores is required from players representing the full range of Course Handicap. This is similar to the method in "Section 17-2a" of allocating handicap strokes using a large number of scores, but instead of comparing an average of scores among two distinctively-defined groups (Group A and B) with a large disparity in Course Handicap, the regression method uses all scores covering the whole Course Handicap range to allocate handicap strokes.

As you can see, both methods are viable. As it turns out, the USGA locally encourages scores to be grouped (regression model) if stroke play is more common, and compared (comparison method) if match play is more common. I personally would prefer to see it expanded as I don't believe 17-2a on my course works well when I am playing against a handicap within five strokes of mine (as that reflects the top five handicapped holes) or even as my conversation went the other day, a 10 played a 15 (or a 5), or the 15 played a 20 or a 10. The five stroke gap showed flaws in the logic of regression based on how my course was rated previously. Great for larger handicap gaps, not so great out playing 9 or 18 with a friend who's 5 strokes off yours either way.
 

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I had a long conversation with a couple of club members about this the other day who are involved in the rules and tournament committee at my club. As it turns out, the course adapted the change to membership stroke based difficulty ratings during the last audit purely on USGA recommendation.

This recommendation is based on whether more tournament rounds are played as stroke play or match play. If the course experiences more stroke based tournaments, 17-2b is recommended, which is the regression model. Rather than taking into account your differential equation in 17-2a where groupings of skill are compared against each other, all scores (encouraged to have 400 or more) are compiled and placed into an equation with the course ratings. Rather than me explain it further:

An alternative method of allocating handicap strokes which uses all data points is to use linear regression. A minimum of 400 hole-by-hole scores is required from players representing the full range of Course Handicap. This is similar to the method in "Section 17-2a" of allocating handicap strokes using a large number of scores, but instead of comparing an average of scores among two distinctively-defined groups (Group A and B) with a large disparity in Course Handicap, the regression method uses all scores covering the whole Course Handicap range to allocate handicap strokes.

As you can see, both methods are viable. As it turns out, the USGA locally encourages scores to be grouped (regression model) if stroke play is more common, and compared (comparison method) if match play is more common. I personally would prefer to see it expanded as I don't believe 17-2a on my course works well when I am playing against a handicap within five strokes of mine (as that reflects the top five handicapped holes) or even as my conversation went the other day, a 10 played a 15 (or a 5), or the 15 played a 20 or a 10. The five stroke gap showed flaws in the logic of regression based on how my course was rated previously. Great for larger handicap gaps, not so great out playing 9 or 18 with a friend who's 5 strokes off yours either way.
What?

If you are playing medal (stroke) play it does not matter on which holes strokes are allocated. Scores are adjusted at the end of the match. If there is a difference of 5 strokes between players, 5 strokes are subtracted from the higher handicap's score (assuming 18 holes and any adjustments made for the specific competition).

If playing match play strokes should be given on holes where most needed.
 

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What?

If you are playing medal (stroke) play it does not matter on which holes strokes are allocated. Scores are adjusted at the end of the match. If there is a difference of 5 strokes between players, 5 strokes are subtracted from the higher handicap's score (assuming 18 holes and any adjustments made for the specific competition).

If playing match play strokes should be given on holes where most needed.
I have no arguments there, as your logic is obviously correct that it's counted at the end of the round. I am simply pointing out that the USGA has numerous ways to establish handicap, and groupings (17-2a actually groups by two sets of skill rather than the OPs mention of 3 sets) aren't what I would consider optimal if I am playing a person who is only 4-5 strokes better or worse than I am (in handicap).

Where I feel this logic is lost is in the tighter matches. By example, if I am comparing the old system at my course against the new one, hole one goes from the 6 handicap to the 2 handicap. In my personal opinion, hole number one requires a precision approach shot with trouble on both sides of the green (bunker or hazard). If I am playing a person who is slightly better or worse than I am, I cannot think of a better hole where the weaker player deserves an additional stroke to retain equitable scoring. By the system design of grouped skills in 17-2a, that former '6' rating was flawed.

Another example is the 15th hole at my course. I had a good argument about it because it's a shorter wide fairway par 5 when the tees are up, and most of the longer hitters are playing into the green with a long iron. Because my course is full of ego/pride, many of the shorter hitters play from tees that don't suit their game, and end up attacking the hole with a three wood or laying up. It went from #5 based on grouping to #17.

The issue with that hole is the inability for people to adequately play from the tee boxes that suit their games. It has nothing to do with difficulty or equitability because aside from a tough approach shot when going after the green in two, there's basically nothing tough about the hole. It's about driver length. If I am playing someone who is five strokes worse than i am, yet hits the ball 20 yards further than I do (and relatively straight), there is an enormous advantage for him on that hole as the 5 handicap. My issue is the flawed logic that goes into the score inputs and using imperfect samples as the benchmark to ratings.
 

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The issue with that hole is the inability for people to adequately play from the tee boxes that suit their games. It has nothing to do with difficulty or equitability because aside from a tough approach shot when going after the green in two, there's basically nothing tough about the hole. It's about driver length. If I am playing someone who is five strokes worse than i am, yet hits the ball 20 yards further than I do (and relatively straight), there is an enormous advantage for him on that hole as the 5 handicap. My issue is the flawed logic that goes into the score inputs and using imperfect samples as the benchmark to ratings.
I fail to see how 10 years worth of data is flawed or imperfect. The differential system is not ideal for players with similar handicaps. No doubt, I agree. But it is a better system if I am playing you, for example.
 

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I fail to see how 10 years worth of data is flawed or imperfect. The differential system is not ideal for players with similar handicaps. No doubt, I agree. But it is a better system if I am playing you, for example.
I believe my course utilizes tournament scores (not sure if that's the norm) to establish these baselines. Also, based on USGA rules and regs, men aren't able to play whatever tees they normally do. In actuality, they are all forced to play off the same tees based on age/flight. This includes Johnny 200yarder at age 35 vs Bobby BigBall who hits it 300.

With that logic in place for tournaments, the guys often refuse to tee it forward for normal rounds because their handicap would improve to something they wouldn't be able to match when moving back. Whether the numbers are established in tournament rounds or regular rounds, by this attitude alone (and I assure you it's prevalent), the data implemented into the system is flawed.

For what it's worth, if my course established a tee it forward initiative and applied it to tournament play, I am almost confident the numbers that would eventually be established would improve and I would be less opposed to them. This would take a monumental change from the concept of "handicaps 1-5 play from this tee, 6-10 play from this tee" or "ages 18-55 play from this tee, 56-65 from this tee..." to "tee ball distances of 200-240 yards play from this tee, 241-260 yards from this tee...". That they don't and won't causes IMO flawed data that degrades the course handicap logic.
 

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I believe my course utilizes tournament scores (not sure if that's the norm) to establish these baselines. Also, based on USGA rules and regs, men aren't able to play whatever tees they normally do. In actuality, they are all forced to play off the same tees based on age/flight. This includes Johnny 200yarder at age 35 vs Bobby BigBall who hits it 300.

With that logic in place for tournaments, the guys often refuse to tee it forward for normal rounds because their handicap would improve to something they wouldn't be able to match when moving back. Whether the numbers are established in tournament rounds or regular rounds, by this attitude alone (and I assure you it's prevalent), the data implemented into the system is flawed.

For what it's worth, if my course established a tee it forward initiative and applied it to tournament play, I am almost confident the numbers that would eventually be established would improve and I would be less opposed to them. This would take a monumental change from the concept of "handicaps 1-5 play from this tee, 6-10 play from this tee" or "ages 18-55 play from this tee, 56-65 from this tee..." to "tee ball distances of 200-240 yards play from this tee, 241-260 yards from this tee...". That they don't and won't causes IMO flawed data that degrades the course handicap logic.
For a course that plays a lot of tournaments with tees based on age and flight, you're stuck. But for the members to play tees too far back in order to keep their handicap up is pretty silly (hopefully nobody at your course complains about slow play). My home course does not host tournaments that use handicap net scores. From that logic, the data is not flaw but specific. The only tournaments that my home course has hosted have been straight up stroke play events for PGA Sectionals and State Ams. To use those scores to determine anything would be flawed.
 

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For a course that plays a lot of tournaments with tees based on age and flight, you're stuck. But for the members to play tees too far back in order to keep their handicap up is pretty silly (hopefully nobody at your course complains about slow play). My home course does not host tournaments that use handicap net scores. From that logic, the data is not flaw but specific. The only tournaments that my home course has hosted have been straight up stroke play events for PGA Sectionals and State Ams. To use those scores to determine anything would be flawed.
But even if my course didn't use tournament scores, the guys who play there don't change their tee boxes because the tournaments limit their ability to win if they are forced to move back. It's just another sampling of how this logic can be flawed when you establish handicap without enforcing logical reason into why people play from where they do.

The 15th hole at my course remains a great example. The hole is extremely easy when played at in three no matter what distance is struck off the tee, but as a 'go for in two' par 5, it greatly benefits those who hit the ball long off the tee. It's skill vs distance, and because a decent percentage of the membership play from the wrong tee box, the handicap number becomes flawed when i square off against someone on that hole who hits it as far or further than I do. I don't have a great advantage in scoring on that hole over a similar length hitter who is a 5 handicap, but I sure do playing a 5 handicap who hits it 3/4/5 clubs behind me.
 

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But even if my course didn't use tournament scores, the guys who play there don't change their tee boxes because the tournaments limit their ability to win if they are forced to move back. It's just another sampling of how this logic can be flawed when you establish handicap without enforcing logical reason into why people play from where they do.

The 15th hole at my course remains a great example. The hole is extremely easy when played at in three no matter what distance is struck off the tee, but as a 'go for in two' par 5, it greatly benefits those who hit the ball long off the tee. It's skill vs distance, and because a decent percentage of the membership play from the wrong tee box, the handicap number becomes flawed when i square off against someone on that hole who hits it as far or further than I do. I don't have a great advantage in scoring on that hole over a similar length hitter who is a 5 handicap, but I sure do playing a 5 handicap who hits it 3/4/5 clubs behind me.
I think that playing the wrong tee in order to keep your handicap competitive for a tournament is much more illogical than setting hole handicaps based on differential.

And yes, I'm sorry, you don't have any advantage in that scenario. But why do you need an advantage? You're a scratch or better golfer. The guy who is not as good as you gets the benefit. That is completely fair in my opinion
 

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But even if my course didn't use tournament scores, the guys who play there don't change their tee boxes because the tournaments limit their ability to win if they are forced to move back. It's just another sampling of how this logic can be flawed when you establish handicap without enforcing logical reason into why people play from where they do.

The 15th hole at my course remains a great example. The hole is extremely easy when played at in three no matter what distance is struck off the tee, but as a 'go for in two' par 5, it greatly benefits those who hit the ball long off the tee. It's skill vs distance, and because a decent percentage of the membership play from the wrong tee box, the handicap number becomes flawed when i square off against someone on that hole who hits it as far or further than I do. I don't have a great advantage in scoring on that hole over a similar length hitter who is a 5 handicap, but I sure do playing a 5 handicap who hits it 3/4/5 clubs behind me.
If you are scratch, and they are a 5, but hit it the same distance as you, their handicap is there because of a reason. 285 doesn't always mean straight. 2 extra putts a round are detrimental. Missing greens short sided are hurting their handicap. You are looking at a single hole and saying that you shouldn't be playing it even with someone that hits the ball with you. Well, maybe it's not in the top 5 in differential. A three shot par 5 does not mean it's difficult. Ask Zach Johnson...
 

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I think that playing the wrong tee in order to keep your handicap competitive for a tournament is much more illogical than setting hole handicaps based on differential.

And yes, I'm sorry, you don't have any advantage in that scenario. But why do you need an advantage? You're a scratch or better golfer. The guy who is not as good as you gets the benefit. That is completely fair in my opinion
illogical? tell that to all the guys who do it. What I am saying is that regardless of whether it doesn't make sense, it happens on the regular, and data that gets sent into the hopper to sort out these defined handicaps stem directly from these scores. MANY of them.

Also, I'm not looking for an advantage, and that wasn't my point. It's about equitability is it not? Giving that five handicap a stroke on a hole he's basically on a level playing field with me seems to make little sense to me. Better to give him that stroke on a hole where he actually needs it so we can retain a level score. By that example, it would be the first hole of my course, which is now #2 but was #6 (going from 17-2a to 17-2b). A hole where my improved accuracy is my asset and he is more likely to get into trouble.
 

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illogical? tell that to all the guys who do it. What I am saying is that regardless of whether it doesn't make sense, it happens on the regular, and data that gets sent into the hopper to sort out these defined handicaps stem directly from these scores. MANY of them.

Also, I'm not looking for an advantage, and that wasn't my point. It's about equitability is it not? Giving that five handicap a stroke on a hole he's basically on a level playing field with me seems to make little sense to me. Better to give him that stroke on a hole where he actually needs it so we can retain a level score. By that example, it would be the first hole of my course, which is now #2 but was #6 (going from 17-2a to 17-2b). A hole where my improved accuracy is my asset and he is more likely to get into trouble.
Send me their emails and I will tell each one of them to move up a tee box on the weekends because they are ruining golf for Jack Nicklaus.



The differential scores don't care about a scratch versus a 5. It is there to level a 5 versus a 17. Why not just play that 5 capper straight up? Or better yet, just give him 5 on the first tee. He starts a -5 and you're even.
 

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If you are scratch, and they are a 5, but hit it the same distance as you, their handicap is there because of a reason. 285 doesn't always mean straight. 2 extra putts a round are detrimental. Missing greens short sided are hurting their handicap. You are looking at a single hole and saying that you shouldn't be playing it even with someone that hits the ball with you. Well, maybe it's not in the top 5 in differential. A three shot par 5 does not mean it's difficult. Ask Zach Johnson...
Most 5 handicaps who play that hole are capable of getting home in two. Where I differ from them is elsewhere on the course, rarely that hole. In my weekly skins game where we play at 50% handicap, with the new system implemented (handicap 17), it's rarely a low capper favoured hole to win. It's quite equitable the number of birdies that come out, and very few eagles due to the green design. In the old handicap system (as #5) it was almost always a birdie net eagle that won the skin -- even at 50%.

I provided an example of a hole where that stroke is more logically placed for that 5 handicap playing a scratch golfer, and it's done so utilizing 17-2b. A hole where a stroke is needed but not provided in the previous system as grouped handicaps.
 

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I provided an example of a hole where that stroke is more logically placed for that 5 handicap playing a scratch golfer, and it's done so utilizing 17-2b. A hole where a stroke is needed but not provided in the previous system as grouped handicaps.
But I have provided 3 examples of how differential ratings benefit a low/high match up and how 17-2b hurts that match up.
 

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But even if my course didn't use tournament scores, the guys who play there don't change their tee boxes because the tournaments limit their ability to win if they are forced to move back. It's just another sampling of how this logic can be flawed when you establish handicap without enforcing logical reason into why people play from where they do.

The 15th hole at my course remains a great example. The hole is extremely easy when played at in three no matter what distance is struck off the tee, but as a 'go for in two' par 5, it greatly benefits those who hit the ball long off the tee. It's skill vs distance, and because a decent percentage of the membership play from the wrong tee box, the handicap number becomes flawed when i square off against someone on that hole who hits it as far or further than I do. I don't have a great advantage in scoring on that hole over a similar length hitter who is a 5 handicap, but I sure do playing a 5 handicap who hits it 3/4/5 clubs behind me.
FWIW, this is not a problem with the system, but a problem for those that are trying to abuse it.
 

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Send me their emails and I will tell each one of them to move up a tee box on the weekends because they are ruining golf for Jack Nicklaus.

The differential scores don't care about a scratch versus a 5. It is there to level a 5 versus a 17. Why not just play that 5 capper straight up? Or better yet, just give him 5 on the first tee. He starts a -5 and you're even.
I don't deny the stupidity. Much of it is ego driven, and like most things, this age of acceptance is relatively fresh.

I've really enjoyed pondering the what's and why's. It makes me want to get on the tournament committee at my course for next year. I'm sure the egos in the room would lose their mind when some 30 year old spent evenings at a time explaining that tee it forward is worth more than outdriving their friends by 30-40 yards.

FWIW, this is not a problem with the system, but a problem for those that are trying to abuse it.
I'm totally okay with this point. I just think certain variables have caused these numbers to get a bit skewed at my course.
 

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