Handicap Hub: Nerding Out on the 2020 Numbers
By Kelly Neely, Sr. Dir., Handicapping & Course Rating
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If I were to count the number of times this season I witnessed someone tossing their (sometimes gloved) hands in the air saying, “what a weird year,” well, I couldn’t because I’m one of the 4 out of 3 people who struggle with math.
Everyone seemed to be more than a little curious and confused about numbers this year – Covid cases, votes cast, how many customers at a time – 6 feet apart, of course – can be queued up waiting for donuts, tires, pizza, Christmas trees (Wait a second. There’s a donut line? It’s worth pointing out that standing in line for donuts might give you enough time to rethink the merits of that purchase and jump over into the kale line. Just kidding. There is no kale line).
Even your new WHS handicap might have caused a certain amount of number-weariness and wariness, especially at the beginning of the season when you discovered a few strokes had been shaved off your Course Handicap due to modern calculations. But there have been plenty of trade-offs. Posting scores hole-by-hole (admit it – it’s faster than you thought it would be and you like the Advanced Stats) and getting daily handicap updates (which means you can see your brother-in-law’s dubious handicap update as well) were only two benefits of a brand-new Handicap System.
Since 2020 has been a year of numbers, and they represent a gift that just keeps on giving, let’s add more to the pile. Why not? It’s the holidays (which is the excuse I use for all December excesses).
|Total number (78 Million) and daily average of scores (245 Thousand) posted through USGA Centralized Computation this year, respectively. Impressive! Note that these numbers represent all scores posted through the Centralized Computation service, and not just GHIN (which is the largest handicap vendor in the world, but not the only one). This number includes scores posted by golfers in the good ole US of A as well as in many other countries and associations.|
|Number, according to the National Golf Foundation, that represents the increase of rounds played over 2019 totals in the US. The last – and only – time there was an increase bigger than this was in Tiger’s breakout year of 1997. He won the Masters by 12 back then. This year the increase in rounds will finish up 12 percent. Hmmm.|
|Percentage of scores posted via the GHIN mobile app, representing a significant shift from 43% in 2019. The star of GHIN’s technology platform, the mobile app is their most-used product. Hole-by-hole score posting, following other players and a calculation for Handicap Allowances (the percentage of a Course Handicap recommended to create equity for all players participating in a specific format of play, such as an 85% allowance for Four-Ball Stroke Play) are just a few of the nimble advancements we now enjoy through the mobile app. More cool things to come in 2021.|
|Percentage of the time that Playing Conditions Calculations (PCCs) do not occur. While this is exactly how this innovative feature of the WHS was intended to play out, we think it is intriguing that of the percentage of times the PCC did kick in, it resulted in mostly -1 adjustments. This indicates the course more often played easier than expected, not harder.|
|Average Handicap Indexes in the US for men and women, respectively. These numbers have decreased just a bit from 14.8 and 28.0 in 2019. Rather than being calculated from the better half of your current 20 scores as was the case in the previous USGA Handicap System, WHS Indexes are formulated from using the eight best Score Differentials out of your recent 20 rounds. This makes the WHS even more responsive to your good scores, less responsive to bad ones (but post ‘em all anyway).|
|Scores posted by OGA Members in 2020. This number is a whopping 614,150 more than in 2019! Now I’m not sure if the number I pulled last year was unreasonably low due to sluggish hamsters running the data wheels or what, but this is a huge increase. We know that golf is enjoying a great boon in this kooky year, with not only existing golfers playing more, but new golfers showing up to enjoy a safe outdoor activity. And could any increase in posted scores suggest that you are embracing the new World Handicap System? Please say it’s so.|
|Number of type ‘E’ scores logged in OGA member records and indicate ‘Exceptional Score Reductions’. Some members have multiple ESRs so this number isn’t individuals, rather the total number. Any score that produces a Score Differential that is at least 7.0 strokes better than your Handicap Index at the time the round was played is considered exceptional (10.0 strokes or better are super-duper exceptional) and adjustments will happen, folks. We like to say the ‘E’ stands for “Even Things Out.”|
|Instances of OGA member Indexes that have undergone a cap in 2020 (some have been capped more than once). Another safeguard of the WHS, capping occurs to prevent extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index over your Low Handicap Index. Interestingly, in The Year of Covid, we saw artificially low rounds posted due to generosity in giving putts when the ball bounced off raised hole liners (the Most Likely Score rule should have been used instead). Unintended consequences now mean we have Low HIs that are lower than they normally would be. Which in turn can cause capping. Excuse me while I take some Tylenol.|
|Total number of rated tees in the OGA region and largest number of rated tees on a single golf course, respectively. The total number includes ratings for Men and Women, as well as all combo tees, and the single course we are referring to is Bandon Crossings. While only having five physical tee boxes and 18 holes, the course has three courses worth of ratings! “Upper” which brings into play an upper green for hole #5 makes for a considerably less difficult hole, and a great option for when the lower green is out of play. The “North” rating is for when a golfer is playing a 9-hole loop. Bandon Crossings is an “out and back” course, playing holes #1-5 (using the Upper green for #5) and #15-18. When playing White tees, you would have the choice of White, Upper White or North White. Variety is the spice of golf, after all.|
Wishing you a festive holiday season and I don’t think I need to say Happy New Year because it’s bound to be.
Questions? Contact Kelly or Gretchen in the OGA Handicapping & Course Rating Department at (503) 981-4653 x226 or Click Here to Email Your Question