Handicap Hub: WHS Refresher Course – Part I | Oregon Golf Association

Handicap Hub: WHS Refresher Course – Part I

By Kelly Neely, Sr. Dir., Handicapping & Course Rating
Click Here for Handicap Hub Archives 

Even though we’re deep into February, is it too late to extend a sincere “Happy New Year” salutation? I’m thinking that it’s never too late to say so long and toodle-oo to 2020 and hello to something (anything!) new.  

And not that you noticed it was missing, but I did not put my Handicap Hub article on the back burner last month to bask on a tropical beach somewhere, sad to say. The USGA launched GHIN’s Digital Profile requirement in early January and I’ve been wading through waves of emails ever since (Have you set up your Profile yet?)

Let’s also wish a “happy first anniversary” to the World Handicap System while we’re at it. The WHS has had a whole season to marinate. To recalculate and recalibrate our handicaps. It has proven to be an intricate, modern machine introducing many moving parts like Net Double Bogey, Exceptional Score Reductions, Capping and Playing Conditions Calculations, to name a few.

But what is it that we find ourselves saying in Year Two of anything? Things like: Is the honeymoon over? Is the bloom off the rose? Is it worn in yet?

All reasonable, but I for one am going to admit that I like this system. I’m growing comfortable with it. Okay, it’s not quite my leather couch but nothing really is.

Are you comfortable with the World Handicap System yet? Do you understand the key components? As the OGA season start date is just around the corner on Monday, March 1, I thought this might be a good time to delve into a Refresher Course. Let’s brush up on some basics.

Net Double Bogey & Hole-by-Hole Score Posting

These two just naturally go together like Mac-n-Cheese, Peanut Butter & Jelly and Arnie & Jack.  

Every time I hear from golfers how much they are pining for the good ole days of ESC (Equitable Stroke Control) because “it was so easy to remember my max hole score was an 8!”, I nod sympathetically then morph into an annoying salesman. But hear me out – I’m not selling snake oil (not sure I even want to contemplate where that charming euphemism came from).

  • Net Double Bogey is a great improvement over ESC because it offers a more precise, consistent adjustment as a maximum hole score from player to player. No more asking golfers with Course Handicaps nearly 10 strokes apart to use the same adjustment. No more carding an 8 on a par 3.
  • Don’t get hung up on the “net” part. Unless you’re in the rarified air of Plus Handicapped players, the rest of us commoners are going to benefit from thinking of it simply as “Double Bogey Plus”. Par plus 2 plus any handicap strokes you are allowed becomes your max for the hole.
  • “Wait,” I hear you saying, “I have to figure out my max on each hole?” Well, you can, but there’s an app for that. The GHIN Mobile App’s hole- by-hole feature (also found via ghin.com) will make the appropriate adjustments for you when you have one of those really entertaining blow-up holes. While you’re cringing and punching in your big ugly 10 on the Par 4, No. 6 ranked handicap hole where you get a stroke, you’ll see the app magically shrink your 10 to a 7.
  • The aforementioned magic cannot happen without proper Par and Stroke Index Allocation (or SIA; new terminology for the ranking of handicap holes) populated in the system, per each hole, per each tee, per each course. Yep, that’s a ton of hole-by-hole data. But it’s all there to make your life easier by doing the icky math for you. See? Once I mention icky math it doesn’t seem like such a hard sell, does it? But buyer beware: check for any differences between data on a physical scorecard and data on the mobile app when you post hole-by-hole. Par and SIA might have changed since the WHS launched and scorecards are expensive to reprint. Your common sense “default” would always be to go with what is in GHIN.

More for Newbies –

  • The purpose of Net Double Bogey is to set a maximum allowable score for handicap purposes. This keeps an exceptionally bad hole from changing your handicap too much. The procedure is typically applied after the round and before the score is posted. If you’re playing a recreational round, the USGA recommends picking up once you’ve reached your Net Double Bogey limit.
  • For those just establishing their Handicap Indexes – meaning, you do not have the required three 18-hole rounds in yet for a calculated Index – your maximum hole score is Par + 5.

Extra Credit –

  • If your Course Handicap is between 19 – 36, Triple Bogey is your baseline – post up to Triple Bogey + 1 on holes with SIA less than or equal to your Course Handicap minus 18.
  • If your Course Handicap is between 37 – 54, Quadruple Bogey is your baseline – post up to Quadruple Bogey + 1 on holes with SIA less than or equal to your Course Handicap minus 36.

Other Hole Score Adjustments

Now that you’re a scholar on Net Double Bogey and you know how to deal with that sorrowful score the Golf Gods just pummeled you with on hole No. 15, you tee off on 16, full of childlike hope.  

This time you’re amazingly accurate and on the green in two. Trying not to be overly giddy, you prepare for a perfect Par. Then your phone rings (why isn’t it on mute? And why are you answering?). It’s your dentist, and he has an opening right now for your appointment that’s been cancelled three times. You begrudgingly acquiesce, pick up your ball and clubs and trudge toward the parking lot. Okay, I admit this might be a bit of a stretch – an unlikely scenario (not the thrice-cancelled dental appointment, the fact that you quit mid-Par to accept one).  

Do you have a score to post? If so, how?

Yes, and easy.

Holes No. 16, 17 and 18 are simply treated differently than Net Double Bogey, which, contrary to popular opinion is not a catch-all adjustment. There are two other types of hole score adjustments, depending on the circumstance (Rules of Handicapping, Rule 3).

  • When a Hole is Started But the Player Does Not Hole Out:  Since this is (tragically) what happened on Hole No. 16, you would take the number of strokes already taken plus the number of strokes it would most likely require for you to complete the hole from that position (including any penalty strokes). This number cannot exceed your Net Double Bogey max, which in your case was not looking anywhere close to a blow-up hole. Note that the application of this rule requires the best judgment of the player to assess the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green and their own ability. Honestly. Don’t inflate. Don’t deflate. Just be reasonable.
  • When a Hole is Not Played:  Because you did not play Holes No. 17 and 18 (by that time you were relaxing in the Dentist’s chair) those two holes are treated conservatively. Afterall, you didn’t even take a stroke – you can hardly give yourself your Net Double Bogey max, right? This time you will post Par plus any handicap strokes you were allowed on the hole. If you receive zero handicap strokes on the hole, you simply post Par.

More for Newbies –

  • Guidelines exist in the Rules of Handicapping to assist in most likely score determinations:
    • If the ball lies on the putting green and is no more than 5 feet from the hole, add one additional stroke.
    • If the ball lies between 5 feet and 20 yards from the hole, add 2 or 3 additional strokes, depending on the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green and the ability of the player.
    • If the ball lies more than 20 yards from the hole, add 3 or 4 additional strokes, depending on the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green and the ability of the player.

Extra Credit –

  • There are such things as “invalid reasons” for a player not to play a hole (or holes). While bailing on your round for a dental appointment is not one of those, here are a couple of the usual suspects. Yep, these are in writing in the Rules of Handicapping.
    • Not playing a particular hole on a course because the player knows it usually causes them difficulty and they are likely to return a high hole score.
    • Not playing the final holes on a course in order to avoid submitting a high or low score.
  • In either case, the Handicap Committee could add a penalty score to the player’s scoring record if it is determined that the player’s actions were for the purpose of gaining an unfair scoring advantage.

Hope this review of a few WHS basics provided both amusement and education. If not, you have next month to look forward to, when we delve into more advanced components. We’ll definitely need more humor then.

Questions? Contact Kelly or Gretchen in the OGA Handicapping & Course Rating Department at (503) 981-4653 x226 or Click Here to Email Your Question

Published / Last Updated On: