Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Ask Linda #281-Most Likely Score
Once again, thanks for a really helpful and informative newsletter. I have a question about the information from #276 regarding ESC and Most Likely Score. I am from Ireland, and in our handicapping system (CONGU), we have a similar clause (Clause 19) for handicapping purposes, where in effect, the most you can score on any hole is a net double bogey. I believe that this is the same as ESC. We do not, however, have anything that is similar to Most Likely Score, and I am not quite sure I understand when/how this would apply. I certainly understand the concept, but it would seem that ESC would usually supersede Most Likely Score, in that regardless of what score you think you might have had, if you hadn't picked up, ESC/ net double bogey would be the score that you would put on your card. The only scenario I can imagine where Most Likely Score would come into play would be on a hole where you were actually shooting close to your handicap (better than net double bogey or ESC), and if that was the case, why would you pick up?? Would it be possible for you to give an illustration (for your CONGU readers) of why/when anyone would use Most Likely Score??
It will help me to answer your question if you will first tell me how you decide what score to write on your card when you pick up during match play. For example, if you are lying 2 on the green of a par four, and your opponent holes out from the fairway for an eagle 2, you have lost the hole and will pick up. What score do you record?
Thanks for your quick response. Ah, here comes the difference between the US system and CONGU. Match play is not considered a qualifying score over here. You would not record a score on your card, other than one up, one down, etc. We only record scores for handicaps in qualifying 'competitions' that are held weekly at the club, which are either singles stroke or Stableford. Games like match play, better ball, etc. would not be qualifying. If someone is doing much better than their handicap indicates, during match play or other non-qualifying competitions, the handicap committee would review their performance and could adjust under a general play review. So perhaps the question would be: “Would Most Likely Score ever be used in a situation other than match play (as in a qualifying situation similar to European rules) and if so, why?”
The USGA and the R&A have worked together since 1951 in establishing the Rules of Golf and the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Thus people all over the world are able to compete under the same rules.
The rules for establishing handicaps, however, are not universal. In the United States, we are governed by the rules set forth in the USGA Handicap System. The Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) sets the rules for establishing official handicaps in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The Board of Golf Australia sets handicapping policies in that country (I believe Australia uses the USGA system with a few minor changes). The European Golf Association (EGA) is in charge of the handicap system used in approximately 40 countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; it is based on Part III of the CONGU Scheme, the Course and Slope Rating System of the USGA, and the Stableford System.
What this means for my columns is that when I answer questions about the Rules of Golf, the answers will apply to everyone. However, when I answer questions regarding handicaps, the answers will apply only to those players governed by the USGA Handicap System.
Now let’s look at your question (bet you thought I’d never get to it) and address the issues you raise. You suggest that ESC would supersede Most Likely Score. That statement is correct with regard to posting scores in the United States. If your maximum allowed score under ESC is 9, and your Most Likely Score (or your actual score) is 11, when you total your round for posting purposes you will use the ESC score of 9. You are never permitted to post a score for a hole that is higher than your maximum ESC score.
The CONGU maximum of net double bogey is not the same is ESC, but it is similar. In applying these maximums, it would seem that the goal of both CONGU and the USGA is to make sure that each player’s handicap reflects his true potential ability.
Most Likely Score comes into play when a golfer picks up in a Four-Ball (Better Ball) competition because his partner has the lower score, and in Match Play when he concedes or is conceded a hole. Under the USGA system, when a player in such events does not complete a hole or is conceded a hole, he is obligated to record his most likely score for handicap purposes. Players are obligated to post scores in both match play and stroke play competitions (including multi-ball and team competitions).
A player governed by the USGA Handicap System is required to post all “acceptable” scores. Both match play and multi-ball stroke play events yield “acceptable” scores.
While I cannot think of another format where “most likely score” would be applied, there is another USGA obligation that I should point out here. When a player completes between 7 and 12 holes, he is required to post a 9-hole score. If at least 13 holes are played, an 18-hole score must be posted. The scores recorded for the holes not played are not the player’s “most likely score,” but rather what you might call his “handicap score.” That number would be par plus any handicap strokes to which he is entitled. For example, a player with a 12 Course Handicap stops playing after completing the 16th hole. Hole #17 is a par 3, and is listed as the #15 handicap hole. Hole #18 is a par 5, and is the #2 handicap hole. For handicap purposes, he will record a 3 for hole #17, since his handicap would not entitle him to a stroke on that easy hole; he will record a 6 for hole #18, which is par plus the one handicap stroke to which his 12 handicap entitles him.
I am grateful to you, Lulu, for pointing out that rules for posting scores differ throughout the golf world. In future questions regarding handicaps, I will try to remember to notify readers that those answers do not necessarily apply outside the United States and Mexico.
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