HOW WELL SHOULD YOU PLAY? (Quoted from "Handicapping News", Spring, 2005, p.3)
Does it seem that you play a few strokes over your Course Handicap most of the time? Well that's normal under the USGA Handicap System.
Why? The USGA Handicap System is based on the potential ability of a player rather than the average of all of his scores. The USGA's Handicap Research Team tells us the average player is expected to play to his/her course handicap or better, 25% of the time.
HANDICAP VOCABULARY (The following is quoted from the magazine GOLF FOR WOMEN, May/June 2005, p. 99)
Slope/Course Rating The USGA developed a “course rating” system for courses in America. This rating assesses a course’s playing difficulty based on what a scratch golfer would shoot under normal conditions. Most ratings are around par (72). If a rating is 74.6, the course will play a little tougher; if it’s a 68.7, your day will be a bit easier. The “slope” indicates an average player’s potential scoring ability on the course. The lowest slope rating is 55 (an easy course), and the highest is 155 (very difficult). A golf course of standard difficulty as defined by the USGA, has a slope of 113.
Handicap Index Because golf courses vary in difficulty, the USGA establishes two numbers for every golfer: a handicap index and a course handicap. When people ask your handicap, it’s really your index they’re asking about. (This is the number with a decimal point that the computer spits out after you post each score.) The index is based on the best 10 of your most recent 20 scores and expresses your potential scoring ability.
Course Handicap This is the number of strokes allotted to you for the particular course you’re playing, based on its relative difficulty. Your index and the slope of the tees you play from determine your course handicap. Most pro shops have a chart that does the conversion for you. Or you can simply multiply your handicap index by the slope and divide that number by 113. For example, if your index is 26.4 and you’re playing from the tees with a slope of 120, your course handicap is 28 (26.4 x 120 )[divided by] 113). The average golfer plays to her or his course handicap 25 percent of the time and plays a few strokes over it most of the time.