Because accurate Handicap Indexes rely on a significant amount of data entered into a scoring record, scores where a player did not hole out can provide reasonable evidence of the player’s ability and should be posted for handicap purposes.
A long-used rule of handicapping, Most Likely Score (MLS) is a convenient way to adjust a score for posting whenever the player starts the hole but doesn’t finish it. This adjustment relies on the player’s best judgment about their own game.
There are various circumstances that might result in a player starting a hole but not holing out –
The result of the hole has already been decided
A hole has been conceded in match play
A player’s partner has already posted a better score in a Four-Ball format and the player picks up
A player has already reached their Net Double Bogey limit on a specific hole
When a player starts a hole but does not hole out, the player must record their Most Likely Score or net double bogey (aka, Double Bogey Plus), whichever is lower.
The Most Likely Score is –
The number of strokes already taken to reach a position on a hole, plus
The number of strokes the player would most likely require to complete the hole from that position, plus
Any penalty strokes incurred during play of the hole.
Most Likely Scores should be determined on any hole in accordance with the following guidelines –
If the ball likes on the putting green and is no more than 5 feet from the hole, add 1 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 yds. 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.
There is no limit to the number of MLS scores that can be recorded within a player’s adjusted gross score, provided that the failure to hole out is for a valid reason and not for the purpose of gaining an unfair scoring advantage.
When a player is submitting scores for an initial Handicap Index, the MLS cannot exceed par plus 5 strokes.