Playing to Handicap

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Depends on what you count as "playing to your handicap".

Personally, I've always regarded it as playing to a score where your handicap doesn't (or wouldn't) change - ie being in buffer. So i expect to do it somewhere between 3/10 to 5/10 times. Most of the others being 0.1 and the occasional cut to keep things relatively stable over time. At least that's how its panned out over redent years.
 
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Below is the copy of some text from a post I made on another golfing website back in 2009. Given we are still using the same handicapping system today I'd be surprised if rerunning the analysis I'd find that the results were significantly different today...

Recently I was tasked with re-installing the clubs handicapping software on a new PC and restoring our current database....luckily the club still had the original installation disks....except they were floppies (remember them?) and of course the new PC didnt have a floppy drive....unluckily there was no documentation to go with the software (apart from some garbled scribble on a paper towel that seemed to refer to C: prompts and other DOS commands).....but hey....i work in IT.....i'm used to that!!!

Once I'd overcome all the technical difficulties and got the software up and running and the original DB restored I started having a play. Apart from the software being pretty damned clumsy there are some interesting reports the thing can generate for you. One of which is a report showing how many times a player scored nett differentials below, in or above the buffer zone.

So during the audioconference which I'm currently stuck on (which at the moment has gone off at a tangent from its original uninteresting topic to something even more obscure), I've been playing with some of the numbers to see if I can confirm the typical assertion that you should only play to your handicap once every 4,6 or 10 rounds....whatever theory you subscribe to.

I only considered golfers who'd played in at least 12 comps over the last year in this analysis....that gave me results for 92 golfers covering a total of 1743 rounds of golf.

From this total sample, only 9% of all rounds were played "below the buffer zone" (i.e. resulted in a handicap cut), 23% of scores were in the buffer zone with the remaining 68% being outside the buffer zone giving a 0.1 shot increase.

Breaking the results down further by handicap reveals that the low handicappers fared better than their higher handicap counterparts in that they were far more likely to score below the buffer zone.

15% of rounds played by 4-12 hcap golfers (20 golfers 398 rounds) fell below the buffer zone (21% in BZ, 64% above BZ) whereas the 17+ handicaps (49 golfers, 871 rounds) were down at around 5% on average (below buffer zone). Subdividing the 4-12 'cappers further showed that for the 4-7 (6 golfers, 146 rounds) the proportion of scores below the buffer zone was around 19%.

Interestingly (?) the % of rounds within the buffer zone largely remained largely constant irrespective of the handicap category....at or around the 21-25% level with no direct correlation between the variation and handicap level. For the most part, when lower handicappers shot more scores below the buffer zone, they shot a corresponding % of rounds less, above the buffer zone.

So.....it would seem safe to say that for most golfers, 2 rounds in 9 will fall within the BZ itself, the very lowest of handicap golfers will play 15-20% of rounds below the buffer zone whilst the very highest of handicaps (say 20+) will only shoot scores that result in a handicap cut maybe 5% of the time at the best.

Is this yet another nail in the coffin that says that higher handicap golfers have an advantage??
 

jim8flog

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When the WHS comes in playing to your handicap on on any 18 hole course regardless of the tee used will be 36 points.

I have been looking at my own record over the past year, in preparation for the WHS, and in competitions I have played to my handicap or better 4 times and to buffer 5 times out of 25 rounds.

I also checked one of my mates (fairly consistent golfer)
he had 2 rounds to handicap and 6 to buffer
 

saving_par

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When the WHS comes in playing to your handicap on on any 18 hole course regardless of the tee used will be 36 points.

I have been looking at my own record over the past year, in preparation for the WHS, and in competitions I have played to my handicap or better 4 times and to buffer 5 times out of 25 rounds.

I also checked one of my mates (fairly consistent golfer)
he had 2 rounds to handicap and 6 to buffer
Can you expand on the 36 points regardless of tee?

Lets just say a course currently has a SSS of 4 strokes higher than par so currently 32 points would equate to handicap.

Do you suddenly have to play 4 shots better to play to handicap?
 

Traminator

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Can you expand on the 36 points regardless of tee?

Lets just say a course currently has a SSS of 4 strokes higher than par so currently 32 points would equate to handicap.

Do you suddenly have to play 4 shots better to play to handicap?
Handicaps will be adjusted before the round, as opposed to the CSS being the benchmark after the round.

I think 🤔
 

jim8flog

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Can you expand on the 36 points regardless of tee?

Lets just say a course currently has a SSS of 4 strokes higher than par so currently 32 points would equate to handicap.

Do you suddenly have to play 4 shots better to play to handicap?
There is effectively no SSS in the WHS. Courses will have a course rating and a bogey rating which is used for the calculation of the slope index. The difference between the slope rating off each tee will change your playing handicap so that playing to your handicap will be 36 points.

There still will be something similar to CSS call the Course Condition calculation which means your nett score my get a further adjustment to decide if it is one of the 8 counting scores
 

Lilyhawk

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Can you expand on the 36 points regardless of tee?

Lets just say a course currently has a SSS of 4 strokes higher than par so currently 32 points would equate to handicap.

Do you suddenly have to play 4 shots better to play to handicap?
It will look like this.

If your handicap is 10.7 (example) you rock up to the course, decide which tee you will play from and look at the chart to see how many shots that will give you. In this case if playing off the whites, you’ll have a shot on all holes but one.

36 points will then be equal to your handicap as a general rule I believe. I hold it open for rulefan to come in and give me a slap on the wrist here, but I’ll take my chances.

The chart below is a slope chart taken from a course back in Sweden where this has been used since I picked up golf for the first time about 15 years ago.
79922DDA-58CC-4DEC-B61A-A914D44425AB.png
 
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No.
If Standard Scratch is 1 under par, you need 37 points to play to your handicap.
If you say to anyone that you got 36 points, then you have played to your handicap. For cutting, buffer zone, etc, I perfectly understand that SSS (or CSS in competition) comes into play... But to say that for example that if an 18 handicapper shot 18 bogeys at my course then they haven't played to their handicap? Tosh.
 

Orikoru

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If you say to anyone that you got 36 points, then you have played to your handicap. For cutting, buffer zone, etc, I perfectly understand that SSS (or CSS in competition) comes into play... But to say that for example that if an 18 handicapper shot 18 bogeys at my course then they haven't played to their handicap? Tosh.
I agree with this to be honest. If SSS goes down that just means a bunch of other people played better than their handicaps doesn't it? It doesn't affect how I played. :p I would still say I played to handicap if I got 36 points. It just might mean that conditions made it easier to play to one's handicap that day.
 

Traminator

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If you say to anyone that you got 36 points, then you have played to your handicap. For cutting, buffer zone, etc, I perfectly understand that SSS (or CSS in competition) comes into play... But to say that for example that if an 18 handicapper shot 18 bogeys at my course then they haven't played to their handicap? Tosh.
No you are wrong.

Par is nothing to do with your handicap.

You might want to go and do some research.
 

Traminator

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I agree with this to be honest. If SSS goes down that just means a bunch of other people played better than their handicaps doesn't it? It doesn't affect how I played. :p I would still say I played to handicap if I got 36 points. It just might mean that conditions made it easier to play to one's handicap that day.
The SSS on his course is one shot lower than par, so a 15 handicap needs to be 14 over. They therefore need to score 37 points in this example.
 

saving_par

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It will look like this.

If your handicap is 10.7 (example) you rock up to the course, decide which tee you will play from and look at the chart to see how many shots that will give you. In this case if playing off the whites, you’ll have a shot on all holes but one.

36 points will then be equal to your handicap as a general rule I believe. I hold it open for rulefan to come in and give me a slap on the wrist here, but I’ll take my chances.

The chart below is a slope chart taken from a course back in Sweden where this has been used since I picked up golf for the first time about 15 years ago.
View attachment 31248
I understand the different handicap off different tees part of this.

In the example I gave, lets say this is my home course and my handicap is 5.0 and I'm playing off white tees.

Day 1 of WHS, do I get a shed load of shots on my handicap, so overnight after years of playing off 5 I'm suddenly a 9 handicap?
 
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Can you expand on the 36 points regardless of tee?

Lets just say a course currently has a SSS of 4 strokes higher than par so currently 32 points would equate to handicap.

Do you suddenly have to play 4 shots better to play to handicap?

Under the WHS your handicap index is reflective of your golfing ability when playing what is considered to be a course of average relative difficulty. This index then converted into a course handicap which reflects the relative difficulty of the course and set of tees you are playing. So the relative difficulty of the course is already reflected in the number of shots you get...hence why 36 points is playing to handicap irrespective of what tees you play from.

Your handicap index may be 10 but off one set of tees your course handicap maybe 12 and off another set of tees it may be 11....in either case, 36 points would be "playing to handicap".

The trouble is that playing to handicap has always been a means of determining a score where your handicap either stays the same or goes down. Under the WHS, because its a rolling average of the best 8 of your last 20 scores there is no guarantee that shooting a good round will reduce your handicap index (nor that a bad round will increase your index). I believe that the concept of "playing to handicap" will disappear from general golfing parlance over the coming years.
 
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No you are wrong.

Par is nothing to do with your handicap.

You might want to go and do some research.
When calculating stableford scores, it absolutely does. On a par 4, an 18 handicapper scores 2 points by getting the ball in the hole in 5 shots. On a par 5, they would score 3 points by getting the ball in the hole in 5 shots.

No need to be condescending.
 

jim8flog

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If you say to anyone that you got 36 points, then you have played to your handicap. For cutting, buffer zone, etc, I perfectly understand that SSS (or CSS in competition) comes into play... But to say that for example that if an 18 handicapper shot 18 bogeys at my course then they haven't played to their handicap? Tosh.
A players handicap is based upon the SSS and not the par and it is adjusted to the CSS.

Where I play 39 points is playing to handicap off the yellows and 37 points off the whites.

Whilst you use a player with a 18 handicap in your example consider the position of a 12 handicap playing off the yellows where I play, this player shooting 36 points will get a 0.1 increase to their handicap.
 
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I understand the different handicap off different tees part of this.

In the example I gave, lets say this is my home course and my handicap is 5.0 and I'm playing off white tees.

Day 1 of WHS, do I get a shed load of shots on my handicap, so overnight after years of playing off 5 I'm suddenly a 9 handicap?
It is not likely that your initial handicap index under the WHS will vary from your current handicap by such an extreme amount.
 

sunshine

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I agree with this to be honest. If SSS goes down that just means a bunch of other people played better than their handicaps doesn't it? It doesn't affect how I played. :p I would still say I played to handicap if I got 36 points. It just might mean that conditions made it easier to play to one's handicap that day.
SSS doesn't go down, it's constant. CSS is adjusted (y)
 

Orikoru

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The SSS on his course is one shot lower than par, so a 15 handicap needs to be 14 over. They therefore need to score 37 points in this example.
Not gonna lie, I've never fully understood SSS or CSS so I generally ignore them. :ROFLMAO: Personally if I hit 36 points I walk away secure in the knowledge that I played to my handicap and no one can tell me otherwise. :p Ultimately it doesn't really matter as you'll know if you played well or badly anyway.


SSS doesn't go down, it's constant. CSS is adjusted (y)
Yeah, see, I told you I always get confused on this stuff. :LOL:
 

Lilyhawk

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I understand the different handicap off different tees part of this.

In the example I gave, lets say this is my home course and my handicap is 5.0 and I'm playing off white tees.

Day 1 of WHS, do I get a shed load of shots on my handicap, so overnight after years of playing off 5 I'm suddenly a 9 handicap?
How it’s going to work out once WHS comes into play I honestly don’t know myself, but from what I read there are some people that have worked out what their new WHS handicap would be compared to the current, and there have been differences, although not as extreme as the example you’ve given.
 
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