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Why do I have to adjust my course handicap for league play? I established my handicap from the gold tees, so I should get my full gold tee strokes!

A short answer is that it’s required by the USGA/RCGA handicap manual, paragraph 3-5. In fact, the USGA and RCGA have ruled that a club cannot choose to ignore paragraph 3-5, because a club cannot choose to ignore any of the Rule of Golf. The best way to explain the rationale for the rule is to use an example:

The course rating for any set of tees is the score a scratch golfer could be expected to shoot from those tees. Your course handicap is the number of strokes that scratch golfer would have to give you in order for you to have a fair match when playing him from the same tees.

So let’s say you are playing a scratch golfer, both of you playing from the white tees at El Tigre. Your course handicap from the white tees is 14. We expect the scratch golfer to shoot 70 (69.7 rounded) and you to shoot 84 (69.7 + 14, rounded), and you would tie.

Now let’s say the next day you move to the gold tees and the scratch golfer plays from the blue tees. He is again expected to shoot the course rating, which is 71.7, rounded to 72. Your course handicap is again 14, and the course rating from the golds is 67.5. So the scratch golfer is expected to shoot 72, and you’re expected to shoot 67.5+14=81.5, rounded to 82. If we didn’t adjust anyone’s handicap in accordance with paragraph 3-5, your net score would be 68 and you win by 4 strokes. Now if we had adjusted handicaps IAW 3-5, we would have either added 4 strokes to his handicap or deducted 4 strokes from your handicap, because of the 4 stroke difference between the course ratings of the two tees (71.7 – 67.5 = 4.2, rounded to 4), and you would have again tied.

What is the difference between ‘course handicap’ and ‘league handicap’?

The course handicaps shown on the My Handicap page are the standard course handicaps from each of the tees at El Tigre. You would use this handicap when all players in a competition are playing from the same tees. So if you and a couple buddies are playing a friendly game, and you all play from the blue tees, you would all use your blue tee course handicap.

The league handicaps are used in any El Tigre league event in which players play from different tees. For instance, in the Mens League, we have players playing from the blue, white, and gold tees. According to USGA/RCGA Handicap Manual paragraph 3-5, course handicaps must be adjusted to account for the difference in course ratings among these different tees.

The El Tigre leagues have standardized on white tees for men and red tees for women, because those are the tees the majority of players use. So your league handicap and course handicap from the white tees (or red tees for women) will always be the same. But if you play from the blue tees, you’re playing a longer and more difficult course than the players on the whites, so we add 2 strokes to your blue tee course handicap to arrive at your league handicap. Likewise, if you play from the gold tees, you’re playing a shorter and easier course than those on the whites, so we deduct 2 strokes from your gold tee course handicap.

Bottom line: Use the league handicap when playing in one of the El Tigre leagues, because you’re playing against players on different tees, and these league handicaps have already been adjusted in accordance with the handicap manual.

How do I enter a score in the handicap system?

  1. Click ‘My Handicap’ on the red menu bar.
  2. Click ‘Add a game’
  3. Choose the tees you played from
  4. Enter the date you played the round
  5. Enter the Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)* score for the round
  6. Click ‘Add game’

*An ESC score for a hole is the actual score for that hole, or the maximum allowed score for the hole, whichever is smaller. The maximum score for a hole depends on your course handicap. For course handicaps 0-9, the max is double bogey. For course handicaps 10-19, the max is 7. For course handicaps 20-29, the max is 8. For course handicaps 30-39, the max is 9. For course handicaps 40 and over, the max is 10.

© 2016 Duane Bender