The Mystery of the big ‘R’


The USGA say that a ‘handicap’ is based on the players ‘POTENTIAL’ ability. It puts a number on that ‘potential’ using two fundamental parts of the Handicap Control System – Part 1 – the players ‘current’ form (average best 10 from last 20 scores) and Part 2 – the players ‘best’ form (average best 2 scores, over a year).
The ‘System’ software programme then uses this information to calculate a Handicap Differential and the players subsequent Handicap Index.

What is Handicap Differential
It is not Stableford Points, Gross Scores or Net Scores themselves but how those scores relate to the course played.
The Handicap Differential puts a numerical value on the players performance (score) depending on the players Handicap Index and the course played .

What is an ‘Exceptional Score’ ?
This is somewhat complicated – but it is not, as commonly thought, 3 shots better than your handicap!!! It is 3 or more Handicap Differential ‘units’ or ‘points’ better than your handicap. The USGA say a score that results in a 3.0 Handicap Differential (units’ or ‘points’) less than the players Handicap Index on the day is ‘considered’ an ‘Exceptional Score’.

If a player has only 1 ‘Exceptional Score’, it only counts while it is in his ‘last 20’ scores and his Handicap Index is calculated purely on Part 1.
A second ‘Exceptional Score’ triggers the ‘Exceptional Scoring Mechanism’ and sets Part 2 (average the players ‘best 2 scores’) in motion.
When the player has at least 2 such ‘Exceptional Scores’ in one year the USGA say that those sores must be considered an indicator of his real golf ability .

With the use of Probability Tables the USGA determine that a player who is capable of averaging 7.5 shots better than his Handicap Index on two occasions should not be averaging more than 7.5 shots in 50% of his subsequent last 20 rounds. [Note……the 7.5 figure is based on having at least 40 eligible ‘T’ scores on the Reduction Table.]

If a player does fall into this situation (‘R’) the USGA stress that this is not in ANY way a reflection on the player’s integrity or any suggestion of handicap manipulation. It is merely an ‘indicator’ that the difference between the average of his ‘best 10 from 20’ and his ‘best 2’ has reached the 7.5 threshold on the Handicap Reduction Table and subject to a reduction (one shot) of his Handicap Index. [ eg with between 5 and 9 ‘T’ scores the 7.5 threshold would result in a reduction of 4.7 shots and with only 2 ‘T’s the reduction would be 6.2 shots]

The explanation for this is that the USGA say that a ‘temporary’ loss of form (increase in last 20 scores) is not necessarily an indicator of the players true golf ability and the ‘Reduction’ brings the players Handicap Index back to what the ‘system’ indicates it should be, based on the players scoring record.

Exceptional Scoring Mechanism
The Exceptional Scoring Mechanism takes the average of the players ‘2 best scores’ and deducts it from the average of his ‘best 10 from 20’ and refers the difference to the Handicap Reduction Table (see PSC website “USGA Index Calculations Explained”).
Provided the difference is 7.4 shots or less the player is not subject to a ‘Reduction’ (or a big ‘R’) and his Handicap Index remains as per the ‘best 10 from 20’ calculation. When the difference moves to 7.5 the player is subject to a 1 shot ‘Reduction’ (and a big ‘R’) from his ‘best 10 from 20’ calculation.

Again the purpose of this is to try and maintain a balance between the players ‘current’ form and his ‘historical’ form.
Effectively it sets a type of ‘cap’ of 7.5 shots against the average of the players ‘2 best scores’ in the year.

Handicap Index 11.0 (using Course Handicap for Stableford)
Silky Oak (W) (CH 12) 44pts Adj. Gross 76 Handicap Differential 7.3 minus 11.0 = 3.7 (Exceptional Score indicator)
Green V. (W) (CH 12) 42pts Adj. Gross 78 Handicap Differential 7.1 minus 11.0 = 3.9
Green V. (B) (CH 13) 38pts Adj. Gross 83 Handicap Differential 7.8 minus 11.0 = 3.2
All the above scores represent very competitive golf but they are the lowest scores that would count as ‘Exceptional Scores’ in the Exceptional Scoring Mechanism’ meaning that they are all between 7 and 8 shots better than the Handicap Index.
If he were to produce these scores and they were his best then the average of his ‘2 best’ in the year would be 3.45 minus 11.0 = 7.6 and warrants a 1 shot ‘Reduction’.

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