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December 28, 2023

USGA tweaks the handicap index revision system

By Alabama Golf News Staff
People using the new USGA handicap system to post scores

More vigilance urged on sandbagging

The growing popularity of short courses has led to a significant change to the system the USGA uses for reporting of scores for handicap purposes in 2024.

The USGA is also urging clubs to be more vigilant of sandbagging by conducting annual reviews to identify players with “abnormal” scoring ranges.

As of Jan. 1, scores for short 9-hole courses (as short as 750 yards), and scores for short 18-hole courses (as short as 1,500 yards) will have assigned slope and course ratings, the USGA said.

Also, 9-hole scores won’t be combined with other 9-hole scores as they are now. The combining of rounds that might have been played weeks apart led to volatility, the USGA said.

Instead, when you post a score for nine holes, the system will extrapolate “an 18-hole score differential for immediate use,” the USGA said.

USGA handicap treatment of partial rounds changing

Also changing: Playing 14 or more holes used to constitute a reportable round for handicap purposes.

In 2024, 10 to 17 holes will constitute a reportable round for handicap purposes. No longer will holes not played be posted as net pars using the course’s hole handicaps.

Instead, for the holes that were played, the player will be required to post their score hole by hole. The USGA handicap revision system will then calculate the scores for the unplayed holes to come up with an 18-hole score.

By replacing net par with the use of a player’s expected score, “players will see more equity and consistency,” the USGA said.

The USGA also is urging local clubs to conduct annual handicap reviews of their memberships. The goal is to identify abnormalities within a player’s scoring record, with the goal of identifying players “who are frequently scoring above, or below, their expected scoring range,” the USGA said.

Once clubs have identified players with such abnormal scoring patterns, the USGA urges clubs to adjust the affected handicap by at least one stroke up or down. “An adjustment above three strokes should only be made under unusual circumstances,” the USGA said.

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Featured image courtesy of the USGA

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