New Year’s Daze: Looking Forward and Looking Back at your Handicap
With the new year, many resolutions are made, including trying to improve our golf games (and our Handicap Indexes®). Unfortunately, “out with the old and in with the new” does not apply to your scoring record for handicap purposes.
First off, the definition of a scoring record for handicap purposes starts with the following:
A history of a player’s acceptable scores
▪ The player’s current Handicap Index
▪ The player’s Low Handicap Index™
The word history is important. Scores made in 2022 don’t magically disappear. They are part of your history, and if they are part of your most recent 20 scores posted date-wise, they will be considered for the best eight of 20 calculation (based on Score Differential™). In other words, if a player posts three scores early in 2023, it’s likely that the calculation of a Handicap Index will start by picking the best eight from a composite of the three 2023 scores plus the seventeen most recent 2022 scores.
We receive questions with some frequency regarding a player who posts a few poor scores (and resulting Score Differentials) and then expresses concern that the Handicap Index has not changed. The reference to the eight best of the most recent 20 in the preceding paragraph is most important. If those three 2023 scores to date are all “bad” scores, this still leaves 17 others to be considered, and if the best eight of 20 from prior to the entry of three scores remains the same, the Handicap Index is likely to remain the same.
People like to look back at their records and statistics. On both GHIN.com and the GHIN Mobile App, one can review more than the 20 most recent scores that are included in the most recent revision. There are filters in both the Scores and Statistics categories (both accessed initially from the Stats heading) that allow for filtering by 2021, 2022 and 2023 to date, along with by courses, certain score types, etc.
The year-specific filters will include round counts for the particular year. Also, recognizing that there are many reasons to enter scores hole by hole (including letting the products adjust/ calculate for net double-bogey maximums automatically,) those hole-by-hole entries also provide a scoring summary that can be analyzed in relation to how one does on holes with different pars. Those who take an additional step and enter “Advanced Stats” in their hole-by-hole entries have additional statistics about putting, approach-shot accuracy and driving accuracy at their disposal.
One other topic that comes up at this time of year is playing golf in various parts of the country (or even the world) and understanding whether the score made is acceptable for handicap purposes. We will focus on the U.S. for our example. Allied golf associations (such as the SCGA) determine whether something called an inactive season for score posting purposes in a region applies. This determination is made under the belief that conditions during a certain time of year aren’t likely to match those of mid-season conditions when golf courses in the region are regularly maintained in a consistent manner, so the difficulty of the courses are probably quite different and unlikely to match the issued Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™.
The system does not want these different conditions to impact the Handicap Index. As an example, scores made in the state of Oregon are not acceptable for handicap purposes from December 1 through the end of February, as determined by the Oregon Golf Association (not the course). The state of Massachusetts has an inactive season from November 15 through the end of March. These dates do not mean you cannot play golf in this time window, but you cannot post a score for handicap purposes during those periods. When you use GHIN tools to try to post a score during these windows in regions observing an inactive season a message will appear that says, “Date played is outside the active score posting season, for this golf course.”
You may be lucky enough to enjoy a January round at Bandon Dunes, but that score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.