Handicap Changes, Part 1

This is my first post about the new World Handicapping System and the changes going into effect Jan. 1, 2020. There will be several more posts over the next month or so. There is no obvious way to start this series. One choice is boring everyone to death with detail so they lose interest and throw up their hands because they don’t want to drown in trivia. That approach works if you are leaving town after collecting a fee for a presentation. Everyone may call you a pedantic fool, but you’re long gone and have the cash in your pocket.

Because I live here, am getting nothing for this, and face you guys every week, I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to take the chance of confusing and angering you immediately by describing what will happen to your handicaps. Then I’ll try to explain things.

It’s OK to say “I’ll live with the new system. I don’t need to know the how and why,” and get on with your life. Alternatively, if you want to know how the new system works and how it’s different from the old system you can spend more time understanding how your handicap is calculated and the rationale behind it. Just follow the links at the end of the posts if you want to know the details.

I have one request. Remember that I didn’t come up with this system. I’m just the messenger. Please don’t shoot the messenger. I’ll try to keep things as clear and logical as possible but some parts are convoluted, no matter what I do. I apologize if some parts seem a bit murky and will try to clear up the murky parts in future posts.

Just so you’ll know where I’m coming from, here are my biases and opinions about the handicap system. I think it works well for what it is designed to do. It is not perfect, but it is understandable and the complexities in the details are unavoidable considering what it’s trying to accomplish. It is designed to make competition possible between people of every ability level and to make ability level ratings portable from course to course. A system that makes it possible for me to compete against any random stranger of any level of golfing ability on a course neither one of us has ever played has got to be a little complex.

In the words of the immortal philosopher Billy Joel, “You may be right – I may be crazy – But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.” So I’m going to try to explain this monster.

So here we go:

Your course handicap will probably go down with the new system

Your handicap index may also go down, but not as much

Your target score to shoot your handicap will not change

Everyone will be equivalently affected so you’re not at a disadvantage

Par was not a part of the old system

The biggest changes are because par is a part of the new system

That’s the deal. For the details of how and why, follow this link. Feel free to ask questions or add to the discussion in the comments.

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