Preparing for Active Season: Things to Know

Active Posting Season: March 1 - November 14

St. Louis, MO - Active Score Posting Season is creeping in and so are the questions you might have. Handicapping is a complex system designed to benefit the golfer. There are multiple factors that go into calculating a Handicap Index including scores and course conditions. As seasons change, conditions change and can provide alternative challenges to what is intended by the course design. It could be easy to look at these changes and say too bad, so sad, but the World Handicap System wants to give players the best chance to have a Handicap Index that will reflect their ability accurately. These reasons are why many associations across the nation experience an inactive season - to offset a time when conditions can be too unpredictable from day to day and hour to hour. As Spring approaches and we re-enter the active season, we want to answer some of those questions and concerns that could arise. 


To start off, there are 1,001 questions about Handicap Indexes themselves. Handicap Indexes are a measure of your demonstrated playing ability. The maximum number is 54.0 for all golfers - and if that’s your Handicap Index, there’s no shame in that; it just means there is room for improvement! Today’s handicap system allows for flexibility in how you post and get your Index. Golfers can join GHIN at their local home club or through our online eClub for those without a home base. There is even an option for groups of golfers without physical green grass golf courses to form their own club. Either way, you are a member of the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association! 


Posting scores is easy through the online website or through the GHIN mobile app. As golf has evolved and studies have been made, the World Handicap System has found ways to account for various playing tendencies or possibilities. Players can choose to post 9-hole or 18-hole scores, totals, individual hole-by-hole scores, and even hole-by-hole with statistics on the day’s round. The system also understands that things happen, so if you blow up on a hole - or round - it will adjust for your maximum allowable score. For those without an established Handicap Index, the maximum is par +5 , but for those with a Handicap Index, your maximum is net double bogey. Though setting maximums may sound crazy to some, it is a way to help you maintain pace of play (pick up once you reach this number) and help prevent major fluctuations in scores and indexes. The system is on your side and wants you to do well.


Posting scores the day you play is important. This may seem trivial, but there are reasons for this request. Of course, your honest and actual scores are the number one factor when reporting a round. Posting on the day played adds an extra layer of accuracy to your account. Why? Because within the World Handicap System, there is a factor called the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC). The PCC takes data from all scores played at a course on a given day and determines if players were scoring at or below their expected score based on their Handicap Index. Depending on if the number is higher or lower than anticipated, it can show that a course played harder or easier than the normal difficulty set by the Course Rating and Slope Rating. So, on days where weather conditions may be more harsh causing the course to play more difficult, the PCC can help you out. The more scores that are posted for a given day, the more accurate the PCC will be. So, help out your fellow golfers and post those scores the day you play for all to reap the benefits of the PCC! For More Info on PCC, CLICK HERE.


Before you hit the course, know your target score - you’ll thank yourself later. Every course has a set Par, but that does not mean you have to shoot that score to have a good round. Sure, it’s a great goal to set for yourself, but the reality is that most golfers are NOT shooting par (or better). In fact only 1.99% of male and 0.75% of female golfers are scratch golfers, or golfers that consistently play to par or better. Put yourself at ease and “play to your handicap”. Knowing your target score will help you better define and determine if you “played well”. A target score is what you will shoot if you play to your handicap. This means you should play and aim to score par plus your Course Handicap. This becomes your own personal par in a way because it is adjusted to your playing ability. So, if you shoot your target score, you are doing great because even then, players accomplish this 15-20 percent of the time. Don’t sell yourself short and beat yourself down over the course par, when you are probably playing to the best of your ability and doing well. Ease up on yourself and let that Handicap Index and target score work for you.
For More on Target Score, CLICK HERE. 


Spring course and weather conditions can pose turbulent times on the course. So, keep in mind that during this time of year courses are working to prepare, revitalize, and transition conditions from the winter into the summer. Sometimes spring weather can be a bit soggy as is known in the age old phrase “April Showers Bring May Flowers”. Unfortunately for you, those showers mean you have to play in those conditions. These are times when you will often see a club play preferred lies and the dreaded cart path only. The good news is that rounds played using preferred lies can still be posted to your account. You will often see maintenance crews working hard in the spring to get the course into prime condition for the summer. This can include aeration and topdressing, and though it can seem like a pain to the player while being executed, you will be thankful for it afterwards. When aeration is taking place, unless the Handicap Committee decides to temporarily suspend score posting, you DO have to putt out each hole if you plan on using the score. “Automatic two-putt” is not an acceptable activity for handicap purposes.
For More on Spring Golf and the World Handicap System, CLICK HERE.
For More on Spring Course Conditions, CLICK HERE.
For Spring Rules, CLICK HERE.

~  Care for the Course  ~

Now that Spring is arriving and you are hitting the course, don’t forget to be mindful and respectful of the course itself. Take care of the course as you use it. Many have grown accustomed to using golf carts when playing a round, which can be great for pace and accessibility benefits. But do not neglect awareness just because you are utilizing a cart, especially during wet conditions. Even in extreme dry and heat-stressed conditions, damage can occur. If you take youth golfers to the course, or you just enjoy walking while using a push/pull cart, these concerns apply to you as well. If the bag is not being carried and is moving on wheels, unfortunately these are effects we have to be cautious of. Sure the cart can get you closer to your ball, but it could damage the course in the process. Think before you drive or steer your cart - no matter how big or small - over a patch of grass.
More on the effects of golf carts, CLICK HERE. 


From the range to every inch of the course, players should strive to leave the course as they found it - and in some circumstances, better. Starting at the driving range, aim to take divots in a uniform linear pattern. Creating a stripe rather than a scattered, tattered mess allows for the ground to heal better and faster. Once you hit the course, there are still actions you should take. Repairing ball marks is one way to help your course, especially on and around the greens. Different surfaces are more susceptible to ball marks than others so it is important to be mindful when you play and notice a mark. Reach down and fix the mark, as it only takes a second of your time. Similarly to ball marks on greens, it only takes a second to reach down and fill in a divot in the fairway - or anywhere on the course. Despite the debate over whether you should be getting relief from divots, one thing not up for debate is that you should fill it in. Repairing a divot allows for the playing surface to recover quickly and restore smoothness. If the divot taken was an intact piece of turf, ideally you should recover that strip, place it back in the hole you created, and press down on it to reunite the roots and soil. If this is impossible to do, use a divot mix (often found on club golf carts). Make sure the mix fills the divot to just below the turf surface and smooth the mix so that it is flat. And when you end up in the place you do not want to be - the bunker - make sure you rake it. Use the bunker rake to smooth the sand within the bunker as much as possible after you make your stroke. Smooth the spot where the ball was struck and any footprints that were created - nobody wants to land nor play out of your footprints. When entering and exiting the bunker, choose a location that is near your ball but also on the low side of a bunker, not the steep side. Try to get the bunker as close to the original, normal condition as possible. Once you have done so, and stepped out of the bunker, use your club to knock any sand off of the bottom of your shoes, as to not drag footprints of sand across the course. 


Caring for the course in all of these ways is common courtesy. Do not be that player that leaves the conditions worse for those that follow behind. If you see a mark, divot, or bunker that has not been repaired, then repair it. Don’t hope or assume someone else will do it. Imagine how upset you would be if you landed in that divot or footprint. Take the time to properly fix these aspects of the course, even if you are not the one who did it. If your group is pressed for time, ask someone else in the group - or be the one to step up and volunteer - to rake that bunker or fill that divot while others finish up. Help out your fellow players, superintendents, and maintenance crews. We will all be better off for it.

For More Information on Each of These Caring for the Course Topics, Click the Link Below:
Driving Range
Repairing Ball Marks

Take the time to use the resources provided to start the year fully equipped and be prepared this season. We hope you all have a fantastic year of golf in 2024!

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