Michael – allow me to clarify your comments around the handicap system and its application to golfing.The concept of maximum number of strokes per hole is called Equitable Stroke Control (ESC), and is in fact part of the RCGA rule (and USGA rules for our American friends) regarding maintaining accurate handicaps.  Its purpose is to prevent artificially high handicaps (deliberately or not).  While it might serve your ego to have a low handicap, it serves your pocketbook to have a high handicap.However, the application of ESC only occurs when you are entering your score for handicap purposes.  I agree with you – the person who scores 10 but says “put me down for a double since that is my max” is cheating.  His score for his round, whether it is tournament or not, stroke play or match play, is a 10.  However, when he enters his score in the computer to recalculate his handicap, his score for that hole is a 6.On the other hand, if he does not adjust his score for handicap calculation purposes, he is cheating as well.  The RCGA has instituted this rule because it works.  “The purpose of adjusting scores is to prevent exceptionally bad holes from artificially increasing your handicap”.  The handicap system works.  I play in numerous tournaments throughout the year, all with handicaps applied and it works.  It is a beautiful thing as it allows a scratch golfer to play with a hacker and there can be a competitive game.

Don’t mess with the system and don’t break the rules.  When you score a 10, your score for that day against your playing opponent, against the guys, or your score for the tournament is a 10 for that hole.  After everything is settled and you go to post your score on OGIN, or on your home handicap-tracker, be sure to adjust your score on that hole for ESC:

0 or plus            max 1 over par
1 – 18                max 2 over par
19 – 32              max 3 over par
33 +                   max 4 over par

For a good overview of the Handicap System, visit this site:

the handicap system: the best form of cheating out there

I have said this before, I think the handicap rule during non-tournament play is just sanctioned cheating. I was in the BMO golfathon on Friday and had the opportunity to play with an LPGA pro. During our play we start talking about the handicap system and she mentioned that it drove her nuts. To paraphrase, nothing drives her crazier than during a normal round having someone screw up a hole, shoot a 10 and turn to her and say ‘My handicap only lets me take a double, put me down for a 6’. Her point, if you take a 10, suck it up and take a 10.
I cannot agree more. I think that the application of the handicap rules during non-tournament play breaks the spirit of the system. The system is meant to level set the field during tournament play so that every golfer, regardless of skill level, has a chance to win the tournament. Not so that during a Friday afternoon round a golfer who has just had a crappy hole can take a 6 instead of their earned 10.
The reason why my handicap is up 2 points this year? Because when I shoot a 10, I take a 10. I wonder how many other golfers out there would see their handicap rise if they were not putting a six on their card?
I would rather see someone take a mulligan and call it out as a ‘cheaters par’. At least they are acknowledging it.


I don’t know why, but when I hear someone say ‘give me a 6, my handicap’ when they just plugged out a 9 on the hole – it just strikes me as wrong. Maybe it is the purest in me, but when I blow up and hit an 8 or a 10 on a hole, I take it.
Now, I know the idea of a handicap system, how it is meant to smooth out the scores and provide tournament parity, but it just seems wrong. When I was out the other day, I was on a tear … 7 holes into it and I was 1 over, then it all fell apart. In the end, I could of scored 5 lower if I would have ‘taken my handicap’ (Nice blow up triples), but I did not. 
The handicap system makes sense for tournaments, but seems to defeat the purpose of the game – that inner challenge. I will keep taking my actual score and when I get older and have more time to get into the single digits, it will be the old fashioned way.