As the golfing season is about to well and truly get under way we thought it might be an idea to remind you all what "playing to your handicap" actually means when you take into account the standard scratch score of the course.
There are always many conversations about what score a player should make to play to their handicap and I suspect that many people think that with your given handicap you should shoot 36 stableford points to achieve this. However unfortunately this is not always the case.
Firstly the measure of your score is against the Standard Scratch Score (SSS) of the course rather than the Par. For the men at Puttenham we effectively have four qualifying length courses all with different SSS. This means your target score to play to your handicap will vary. The table below helps to explain what your target score is to play to your handicap for stableford, bogey and medal play:
|Qualifying Course||Par||SSS||Stableford Points Target Score||Bogey Target Score||Medal Target Score|
|White Plates||71||70||37||+1||nett 70|
|White Intermediate||71||69||38||+2||nett 69|
|Yellow Plates||71||68||39||+3||nett 68|
|Yellow Intermediate||71||67||40||+4||nett 67|
Ignoring the various factors which may further change the course standard scratch score for any one competition (competition standard scratch or CSS), the handicapping algorithm is designed to allow a player to reach their target score on a good day (not your best day). How far short of the target score to play within your "buffer" depends on your handicap category as shown in the following table (for demonstration this table is based on a stableford points competition):
|H'Cap Category||H'Cap Range||Size of Buffer Zone||Target Stableford Points (based on CSS 70)|
|1||Less than 5.5||1||36-37|
|2||5.5 to 12.4||2||35-37|
|3||12.5 to 20.4||3||34-37|
|4||20.5 to 28||4||33-37|
From the above example you can see that an 18 handicapper (Cat 3) would have their handicap reduced for 38 or more points and increased for 33 or fewer points.
For more information from the handicap governing body CONGU, please click on the following links