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what's the point of a handicap in golf?

I mean I think I understand how it works. One player is really good and the other not so good, so the not so good gets some extra -strokes and that way the end scores are closer. Right?

But why do this? It's just pretending. If I won, but was granted a generous handicap, I'd know that I hadn't really won.


Is it just for the sake of fun?

3 Answers

  • 3 months ago
    Favourite answer

    It's just for fun man.

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  • 3 months ago

    1. It allows for both friendly competition, or actual competition among players of mixed skill levels. So the casual Saturday afternoon golfer can enjoy a round and stand a chance against a friend who plays every day or you can host a big tournament and attract a variety of players.

    2. It allows an individual golfer to adjust their expectations based on the course by using the slope (difficulty) rating. Lets say you normally play at a relatively easy municipal course, but you go to a more difficult course for a golf weekend with friends - you aren't going to shoot the same score on the more difficult course, but if you compute your handicap for that course based on the slope rating you can give yourself a reasonable milestone and accurately gauge how well you are doing based  your personal skill level.

    3. Its useful for tracking your overall skill over time. You know if your handicap is going down then you are getting better. This isn't as easy to see if you only look at raw scores because course difficulty can account for big differences in your scores.

    • Ok, thanks for the info. It sounds like a handicap can be a useful tool on top of being a way to 'level the playing field'. But in the end isn't the "raw score" the only real truth.

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  • It provides for an even match among nearly any two people who play the game and maintain a handicap. It allows clubs to have a club championship contested among players of different indices. The new system is a true 'global' index that is used worldwide.

    In addition, a lot of clubs in Britain and Australia require a handicap to play on their courses (typically you'd need an index at a certain level). When I did a Scotland trip a few years ago several courses had restrictions on a max index (Carnoustie, Old Course at St. Andrews) so as not to put a player on their course who had no business being out there (we'd do well to copy that here in North America). Similar situation when I went to Australia in 2018; two courses did not permit players with an index over 14.9.

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    • I guess what I'm getting at is if it's a serious competition would handicaps be allowed? And if so how could the final score have any validity?

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