Handicaps and Penalty Strokes Explained
THE INTERNET, CA – Now that a few tournaments are in the books for 2012 and the site is humming along; a couple questions about handicaps and penalty strokes have been raised. This article will attempt to answer those questions, but will likely only end up confusing you even more.
A handicap index is an indicator of how good you are at golf, the lower the index, the better you are. Every time you enter a round in the site, the slope and rating of the course are used to calculate the "differential” for that round. The handicap on a players profile page is calculated by looking at the 10 best differentials of the last 20 scores entered. If a player has less than 20 scores in the system, the USGA chart below is used to see how many differentials should be used in the handicap calculation. The more scores you enter, the more accurate your handicap will be. That’s statistics 101 ladies and gentleman.
While similar to a USGA handicap, the MGA index will vary slightly for a few reasons. On the MGA site, your “tournament scores”/differentials will always jump to the top of the list, whether they’re the best available or not. This is because those are the only rounds we’re fairly confident you finished every putt and didn't cheat.. much.
Example 1: You have 5 “user scores” (which are the scores entered by you after each non-competition round you play) and 2 “tournament scores”. That makes 7 total differentials available, which looking at the chart tells us your 2 best differentials will be used in the calculation. But since this is using the MGA system, the site knows it needs 2 differentials to calculate your handicap and it sees 2 “tournament scores” are available. It will always take those tournament differentials first before even considering your lowest “user score” differentials.
Example 2: You have 7 “user scores” and 2 “tournament scores”. Now that you’re up to 9 total scores, the site needs 3 differentials to calculate your handicap. So it will take your 2 tournament differentials first and then it will take the lowest available "user score" differentials. These differentials will be used in the formula below to calculate your handicap.
(Average of differentials used)*.96 = your handicap. Take a look at the graphic below for an example.
Now that we know Player X’s handicap is 16.1 we can calculate his MGA penalty strokes. Penalty strokes are used to penalize players who are better than mediocre. We’re essentially trying to turn kinda good players into an 18 handicapper. If a players handicap contains a decimal, we round down from .4 and up from .5. So here’s how it would work for Player X and his handicap of 16.1.
18 – 16 = 2. Player X will have 2 penalty strokes added to his score at the tournament. Remember, no matter how many penalty strokes you're carrying, a 79 or better gets you DQ'd. Go join the Nationwide Tour asshole.
As I mentioned before, the more scores you enter in the system, the more accurate your handicap will be. So put in all your scores from all your rounds of golf and you’ll be sure to avoid any unfair penalty strokes.
*** IF YOU HAVE PENALTY STROKES: Your tournament scores/differentials will display on your profile page with the penalty strokes added in. However your pre-penalty, or gross score/differential from the tournaments, will be used in your handicap calculation. It is stored in the database and used behind the scenes to keep your handicap accurate. ***