GHIN stands for Golf Handicap and Information Network. It is the body that calculates the handicaps for people throughout the United States. In other words, it’s the reason you, the seasoned, good golfer, have to give Joe Golf, with those vintage golf pants, 5 strokes a side to even out the game.
And that’s what a handicap system does. It makes the game even (theoretically) between two golfers of different skill levels. Essentially, it allows a bad golfer and good golfer to play a match against each other and gives each side the same chance of winning.
But how does the system work?
The handicap system is supposed to find out the average number of strokes you should “give” to a golf course depending on its difficulty. This is done by taking the lowest 10 golf scores of your last twenty, adding them up, and dividing them by ten. Although, it’s not really as easy as that, because GHIN doesn’t want a guy who plays an easy course to have a much lower handicap than he really should.
To combat this, GHIN rates every single golf course to provide a baseline “score.” When you post your score on any given golf course, then, the score is adjusted to fit this baseline. So, for example, if I played a really easy course and shot 80, it might stay at an 80 after being adjusted. But, if I played a really hard course and shot an 80, it might be adjusted down to a 76 to take into account the difficulty of the course.
The best 10 of your last 20 are taken because GHIN understands you might have some bad rounds every once in a while (like the day you forgot your golf rain pants in the monsoon). It wants to take those out, to some extent. GHIN figures 10 scores over 20 rounds is a good sample size to determine your level of golf play.
The only kink in this system is that the scores are entered by the players themselves. That can sometimes lead to a little bit of fudging of the handicaps. The most egregious way this is done is by failing to enter all of your scores in, particularly the ones that are really good.
So, there you go. That’s how the GHIN system works in golf.
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