To Post, or Not To Post? Handicap Guidance

May 6, 2020

To Post, or Not to Post?

Acceptability of Scores for Posting Purposes with COVID-19 Modified Courses


With golf finally resuming across the state, the MSGA is beginning to field a lot of questions surrounding the posting of scores for handicapping purposes during the current golf landscape.

With both golfers and club staff required to follow strict guidelines to ensure we can continue to enjoy the game we love in these challenging times, golf will look very different for some time to come. Even handicapping looks different right now.

As we all know by now, common touch points like rakes, water coolers and ball washers have been removed from courses. Additionally, pool noodles, raised cup liners, or inverted cup liners have been implemented to ensure that the flagstick or cup is not touched.

The pressing question seems to be, is it okay to post scores under the current conditions?

The answer is “yes”, scores from rounds played under the current conditions may be posted under the Rules of Handicapping. However, it is ultimately up to the club Handicap Committee to decide if posting is to be allowed during this period at their club.

For clubs that decide they want to post scores that are using raised cups where the ball is not holed, the golfer needs to use their discretion to determine the most likely score they would have made on the hole had the cup not been raised.

For example, if a player has a putt that has perfect speed and line and finishes against the cup, or caromed a short distance away from the cup, the most likely result of that stroke would be that the ball is holed. Conversely, a putt that is cruising fast enough where it would never be able to fall into the hole (even if dead center) would most likely result in a miss.

Golfers in the group should have a good idea of what a made putt looks like versus a missed put, and this discretion is the determining factor for whether or not the ball is holed. When we play the game we are expected to follow the Rules of Golf, as it is a game of integrity at heart. This extends to the Rules of Handicapping as well, where players need to use their best judgement during these extraordinary times.

The USGA has addressed this issue by providing a memo and corresponding FAQ that can be found via the links below:


Rules and Handicapping Guidance During the COVID-19 Era

COVID-19 Rules and Handicapping FAQs



Generally Handicapping Questions

In addition to the flood of questions regarding the acceptability of scores for handicapping purposes, we have started to receive an uptick the general handicapping questions. Below are a few reminders and answers to some FAQ’s.

The first question we have started to receive is the inevitable, why did my Handicap Index drop under the new World Handicap System, when I haven’t even played golf yet?

To answer this, we need to look at how a Handicap Index is now calculated under the new World Handicap System verses the USGA Handicap System (pre-2020). Prior to the introduction of the WHS on January 1, 2020, a Handicap Index was calculated using a player’s 10 best Handicap Differentials out of their most recent 20. Under the new Rules of Handicapping, a player’s Handicap Index is calculated using a player’s 8 best Score Differentials out of their most recent 20.

With this reduction in the number of Score Differentials from 10 of 20 to 8 of 20 will automatically cause a drop in a player’s Handicap Index. The good news is that it is happening to everyone!

A second question we have been receiving a lot is in regards to the calculation of a player’s Course Handicap.

Under the old system a Course Handicap represented the number of strokes a player received in relation to the Course Rating of the tees being played and was calculated using the formula below:

Course Handicap = Handicap Index x Slope Rating / 113.

Under the World Handicap System, a player’s Course Handicap represents the number of strokes a player receives in relation to the Par of the tees being played. The formula will include a Course Rating minus Par adjustment:

Course Handicap = Handicap Index × (Slope Rating ÷ 113) + (Course Rating – Par)

The reason for this change is to make the game as equitable as possible when competing from different tees. Prior to this change the need for the dreaded 3-5 adjustment created more confusion and debate than anything. This new formula does away with any such adjustment and allows players to compete from separate tees equitably. The only time an adjustment would be needed is if there is a difference in par between the tees being played.

To find more information on the new World Handicap System and the reason behind the changes, please visit the handicapping section of the MSGA website by clicking here.

You can access the Word Handicap System website by clicking here.