Keeping a golf handicap requires entering scores into the GHIN application. Every course has a rating and a slope, and you get a handicap by the formula below.

Say you scored an 82 on a golf course with a USGA course rating of 72.5 and a slope rating of 128. Using those numbers, the equation looks like this:

(82 – 72.5) x 113 / 128 = 8.3

This creates a universal system to handicap a golfer…as long as everyone scores the same way…which they do not.

Why Not?

The main reason people score differently is ego. Human beings have a tendency to want to think they are better golfers. This can lead people to act irrationally in favor of telling their friends how well they play. Most of the time it rarely matters….until you get out on the course and 1) play for money or 2) play in a match. There is no hiding on a golf course when your handicap says you’re a number.

This past Tuesday CK4 and I played in a match where I am 12 and I was matched up against an 8. We played at the same strokes due to course difficulty and I ended up winning by 3 strokes on 9 holes. Is it that uncommon for a 12 to beat an 8 by 3 on 9 holes? Not really, but I’d bet my life I’m as good, if not better golfer than him, even though he’s 4 strokes better on the handicap index. This happens for a few reasons and it comes down to putts and out of bounds. (CK4 and I won the match by 3 if you were curious).

Bud and I play in a 5-5-5 match every time we play, 5 bucks for the front, back, & total. We are similar handicaps so there are no strokes given, and we both abide by the same set of rules which is no breakfast balls, 2 white stakes OB plays ahead, and no putts given (outside of say a foot, and if the player is blowing up a hole we’ll give a 3 footer). I’ll give an example of a sticky scenario encountered last Saturday of me infringing rules. I hit an approach shot wayward and it got stuck in the group in front of ours cart. I removed the ball from the cart, and instead of dropping behind the cart (the ball clearly would have rolled behind it), I dropped in front of the cart (as dropping behind the carts would have made me hit through the carts). I got up and down for par and if I was Bud I’d be thinking “What the Hell!” Fortunately neither of us take it that seriously (if you can believe that by our rules), but this is how we play golf under the same set of rules. So when I’m playing the 8 handicap in the match, I can guarantee he doesn’t 5 putt greens like I did at Bella Vista. This would inflate his precious handicap. Another example of mixed play styles during that match was when their team both double bogeyed, and I was putting for par from 15 feet, they conceded the hole.

Am I a 12 handicap? I’m probably the best 12 handicap out there because I keep my actual score. 99% of golfers do not. There is no advantage to inflating your handicap. It may make you feel better exclaiming to your friends you’re better than you are, but this is a false reality. When the truth meets a false sense of self worth, who do you think wins? This is a perfect correlation to society, if you live under a false sense of the Earth’s laws, you will lose.