Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ask Linda #103-Posting scores from unrated tees

I'm in Florida and I don't have access to my saved emails at home so I don't have the formula for converting men's tees to ladies’ slope and rating. Could you please send me that info so I can post my scores from Florida?

Dear Lulu,
The answer to your question can be found in Section 5-2,g of The USGA Handicap System. The USGA provides separate charts for women and men to find the slope and rating on a course where you are playing from a set of tees that has not been rated for your gender.

Here is the link to find the chart online:*


On the left, click on Section 5, Scores. Then, on the right, click on Section 5-2, Posting Scores. In the middle, scroll down to g. Posting a Score from an Unrated Set of Tees on a Rated Course. You will see the directions on how to use the chart, the chart to adjust women’s ratings, and the chart for men.

I am going to run you through a sample conversion to help you understand how to use the chart to find the slope and rating for a woman playing from the men’s tees. For my example I will refer to an imaginary course where the women’s tees are rated 69.4/122, the yardage for women is 5,276, and the yardage from the standard men’s tees is 6,085.

First, find the difference in yardage between the tees rated for women and the men’s tees you are playing. In my example, that would be 809 (6,085–5,276=809).

Next, look at the chart. You will notice it has three columns: Yards, Change in Course Rating, and Change in USGA Slope Rating. Under Yards, find the range that includes that difference of 809 yards. You will find that to be 801–818. Now look to your right, and you will see 4.5 under Change in Course Rating and 10 under Change in USGA Slope Rating.

Since the men’s tees are longer than the women’s, you will add those differences to the women’s ratings to find your rating from the men’s tees. In my example, 69.4+4.5=73.9, and 122+10=132. When you play from the men’s tees on this imaginary course, the scores you post will have a rating of 73.9/132. If you were a man playing from a set of tees rated for women, then you would subtract the change in course and slope ratings, since the yardage from the women’s tees is likely to be shorter than the men’s yardage.

Lulu, I’m glad to hear that you are being so conscientious about posting scores from rounds played in a state where the season is active. I hope that all of you “snowbirds” have been similarly responsible, posting your winter warm-weather scores (if possible) or keeping careful records to post your scores when you return home.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

*You can purchase The USGA Handicap System from the USGA. The phone number is (908) 234-2300.
**If your web browser will not go directly to this site, go to www.usga.org, put your cursor on Rules and Handicapping and click on Handicaps in the drop-down menu, click on The USGA Handicap System, 2008-2011, and proceed as above.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ask Linda #102–Marked ball moved by wind

Dear Linda,
I replaced my ball in front of my marker on the putting green. I stepped back to survey my putt one last time, and the wind blew my ball to another spot. Should I replace the ball at the marker (I hadn’t lifted it yet), or should I play the ball from its new spot?

Dear Lulu,
Your ball is in play as soon as you replace it (Rule 20-4). If the wind then moves your ball to a new position, you must play your ball from that new position. The fact that your marker is still on the green has no relevance. Pick up your marker and putt from the new spot.

You must never put back a ball that is moved by wind; if you do so, you will incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a. If you put the ball back and then hit it, your total penalty is now two strokes (the penalty for a breach of Rule 18). So if you mistakenly replace a ball that has been blown by the wind, make sure you put it back before you play your next shot. This is true anywhere on the golf course.

It might help you to think of it like this: When Mother Nature moves your ball, play it as it lies. Take to heart the advertised warning that many of us grew up with: Don’t mess with Mother Nature!

Note that once you address your ball, if it moves thereafter you are deemed responsible for the movement, even if it seems likely that the wind probably caused it to move. Assess yourself a one-stroke penalty and replace the ball. (For a more detailed discussion, see Ask Linda #64 posted on Sunday, May 25, 2008.)

Note also that there are situations when you are required to replace a ball, such as when it is moved by yourself, your partner, your equipment, your opponent, or another ball (please read Rule 18, Ball at Rest Moved).


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ask Linda #101-Etiquette for kids

When talking to juniors which would be the most important etiquette points and spirit of the game to be discussed????
Thanks, Lulu in Puerto Rico

Dear Lulu,
I’ve given this question some thought, and I’m not convinced that golf etiquette should be any different for juniors than it is for adults. Proper golf etiquette can be mastered by a person of any age. Etiquette, after all, is really nothing more than good manners and common sense. Adults may be more receptive to the admonitions in the rule book; children should learn through observation and advice.

While the etiquette requirements are the same for golfers of all ages, I would recommend that your advice to youngsters always be positive: “do this,” rather than “don’t do that.” I will also offer a suggestion for pace of play with children that strays from the rules but will make golf more enjoyable as they learn the game.

Etiquette is the very first section of the rule book. It is the easiest part to understand and implement, and it would seem that the golf gurus feel that it is the first aspect of golf that everyone should master. Let’s take a look at how all of us are supposed to behave.

The Spirit of the Game
There are no referees in the normal, everyday world of golf. It is a given that golfers will be honest, courteous, and sportsmanlike. What wonderful qualities to impart to your children! And what a difference from the organized sports to which they may be accustomed, where telling the truth is generally verboten. (Just imagine a coach’s reaction if a player were to say: “Excuse me, ump, but he was really safe – I missed the tag.”)

Remind your child to look around before he swings a club. He must make sure no one is in front of him, even if he’s only taking a practice swing, since he might dislodge a stone or hit a twig. Shout “fore” together when you have put another golfer in danger; this is the only chance he will have on the golf course to air out his lungs, so make it a boisterous family affair.

Consideration for Other Players
This is of utmost importance, and is best learned, I believe, through observation and a few gentle hints. This means, of course, that you have to be on your best behavior. If you are still and quiet when others are hitting; if you turn your cell phone off (or, better yet, leave it at home or in the car); if you don’t stand behind the ball (to the right of a right-handed player) when a player is about to hit; if you carefully walk around behind other players to avoid stepping on their line of putt; if you make sure that you don’t cast a shadow over someone else’s line of putt; if you stay on the green until everyone has finished putting; if you remove the flagstick when your ball is closest to the hole and return it when you are the first to hole your putt; then your child will learn to do these things, too. It can’t hurt to explain what you are doing; you don’t want any of your movements to remain a mystery. (Always try to be positive: “Gee, Chip, it looks like our shadows are covering the hole. Let’s move over so Uncle Jack can see his putt better” will be much more effective than: “Get out of the way, Chip. Can’t you see your shadow is in Uncle Jack’s way?”)

Pace of Play
Here is where I think you need to make a few adaptations to the rules to help your child learn to enjoy the game without incurring the wrath of those groups playing behind you. Rather than limit the number of strokes your child is permitted to take on each hole, try one of the following:
1. Play a scramble.
2. Play a modified scramble, where your child picks up his ball and plays his second shot from wherever the best drive in your group lands.
3. Allow your child to hit a drive plus two more shots. If that doesn’t put him within chipping distance, let him pick up his ball and place it near the green so he can learn to chip and putt (but put a limit on the number of chips and putts, too). If you make him pick up after a set number of consecutive shots, he will never master the short game and he will miss out on the fun of holing out. In fact, even if you’re not playing a scramble, that format might be the best teaching tool for chipping and putting, as it will help him learn to get a feel for both by watching and trying to imitate what you do.
4. Always put a novice on the shortest set of tees, or consider allowing him to start each hole from the 150 yard marker.

Care of the Course
Teach your child how to properly rake bunkers and repair divots and ball marks. Teach him how to take a practice swing without removing a divot. And if your child is prone to destruction when his frustration gets the better of him, help him to find some way to vent his anger without marring the course.

One of my pet peeves is watching children play golf from a cart. Golf was meant to be a walking game. Consider purchasing a small, lightweight bag and have him carry half a dozen essential clubs. This will not only give him some decent exercise, but it will help him get a feel for yardages. Walking also provides an opportunity to take pleasure in the beauty of the course. Golf is not about riding around a golf course and hopping off your cart to hit a shot. I use a pull cart in the summer (too hot to carry, plus I want a full complement of clubs when my scores are going to count), but I have to confess that I feel most like a golfer in the winter when I toss seven or eight clubs into a carry bag and hoist it on my shoulder. If carrying is not an option for your child, then buy him a pull cart. Teach him to enjoy walking; he will be a happier and healthier person for it.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.