course rater at the Incline Mountain Course

The Ladies tees at both the Mountain and Championship golf courses were re-rated late last fall and the course rating for ladies went up across the board. What does that mean? Well, you will see your handicap index increase as well as your overall course handicap if you continue shooting the same scores as you previously did.

For example, previously the ladies red tees at the Championship Course had a course rating of 63.2 and a slope of 114, compared to the new course rating of 64.6 and slope of 130. The slope rating increased significantly, which will mean you will see a higher course handicap than you usually have. All of the increases in course rating and slope are directly related to the amount of forced carries on the golf courses. These factors were not taken into account when the original ratings were done. Golfers are always talking about handicaps and what they think they are, but most people are incorrect in their assumptions. Please read below on how handicaps work and how often you should actually shoot your handicap, I think most of you will be surprised.

Handicaps and How They Work

According to the United States Golf Association (USGA): The purpose of the World Handicap System(™) is to provide greater enjoyment for all who play the game by enabling players of any ability, from anywhere in the world, to play and compete with others on a fair basis.

What is a Handicap Index?

A Handicap Index provides you with a portable measure of your playing ability that’s consistent with how golfers are measured worldwide. It can be used to track your progress and play a casual or competitive round with any other player. All players are encouraged to establish and maintain a Handicap Index.

How do I get one?

It’s easy! Get in touch with any of the Golf Pros at the Incline Village Golf Courses and we can get you registered for a Handicap Index - all you have to do it go play golf and record your scores when you do. Scores from match play, stroke play, and team formats where you play your own ball are acceptable - as long as you play by the Rules of Golf and another person is present during your round.

Your Handicap Index is not your Course Handicap

Once you decide which tees you’re going to play, it’s time to convert your Handicap Index into a Course Handicap, which is the number of strokes you need to play to par. There are lots of great mobile apps out there which can do this conversion for you, or if you like to do a little math, the formula is:

Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating / 113) + (Course Rating - par)


Ask a Pro with Darren Howard

Q: How often should you beat your handicap? 

A: You should average about three shots higher than your handicap. For example, a player with a Course Handicap of 16 on a course with a USGA Course Rating of 71.2 should average about 90, not 87. 

The USGA Handicap System is based on 96 percent of the best 10 differentials (corrected for Course and Slope Rating) of his/her last 20 rounds. More than half of your scores should be within three strokes of your handicap (87 to 93 in our example). Most golfers will beat their handicap (87 or better in our example) 20 percent of the time, and beat it by three strokes one out of every 20 rounds. 

For this player to break 80 (beat his handicap by eight), the odds are 1,138 to 1 if his/her handicap is correct. Do that twice and it would take the average golfer over 700 years of golf to accomplish it "fairly." In other words, odds far beyond reasonableness. Bottom line – a proper handicap is your potential, not what your score should be each time you play.


[2022 Golf Season]

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of the IVGID Quarterly Magazine