What Does Your Golf Score Really Tell You?

Much discussion happens around a players golf score and what it really means. Usually the first question out of any golfer’s mouth was “what did you shoot?” Or they are asking others about the best players score, it appears that the score is the benchmark to measure all things in golf. Well, I can tell you that the numbers lie and do not really mean as much as we think. Sometimes we chase a lower golf score like a dog changes his tail with no real success.

I recently ran a poll about what a player usually shoots and I am not surprised by the scores:

But what do these actually mean. I tried to find more details on the average score of amateurs and most of the data is flawed in my opinion. Most of the information is tied to the National Golf Foundation from 2010 where the score of 100 is the benchmark. Most golfers do not shoot under 100, but I think is unrealistic to lump all golfers in one group. It skews the numbers.

If any national body wants to determine the scores, they should only use golfers who establish a handicap index. These individuals are active golfers and the rest I would consider casual players. As such, casual golfers should not be used to define the average score of golfers because there is no way to define their actual score.

Are they following all the rules, do they take mulligans, is a foot wedge a real thing or do they count all the penalty strokes. If you play golf occasionally, it is tough to understand all the nuances of the game and as such your score may not reflect what you actually shot.

So, after assessing that the way the numbers are gathered might be flawed, what does your golf score really mean? Well, it is a personal benchmark for you to use for your own purposes. It will help guide you if you want to compare your score to another. It is easy to say that I am a 4 handicap because I have established an index, but if you do not have one, then we would be comparing apples and a trailer hitch! It just does not compute.

Numbers can lie and in the case of a golf score, the possibilities for an error are endless. It is not as simple as counting how many times you hit the ball; there is so much more. So the next time you are feeling depressed about your score, don’t! It is a benchmark for you alone and if you want to lower it, you have the control to do so.

What do you think?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

6 thoughts on “What Does Your Golf Score Really Tell You?

  1. Jim, Kevin makes some very salient points about the handicap system’s flaws. I would argue that the lower a player’s handicap, the more important gross score is and the less important the handicap is. I don’t play in competitions that much any more, but when I did as a single-digit handicap, I paid little attention to net division prizes. As a four handicap, if I’m in a tournament with gross and net division prizes, I’m 100% focused on gross score. Because some sandbagger with a 15 can come in and shoot 79 (net 64); I’ve got no chance at a net prize. So the better you get, the more your gross score matters.

    Great thought provoking post!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian

      Great points. I have played against may players who have shot the best round of their lives in competition. Everyone knows, yet it is so hard to proved. I played against at 14 handicap in a match play event and he beat me straight up with no handicap. He shot a 75 and I shot a 76. Sure makes me wonder. Have a great day.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim, my favorite tournament to play was the club championship at one of the city muni courses back in the 1990s. You would start with a field of 64 and everyone shot a qualifying round from the white tees. Then they would split into four flights of 16 based on score. The championship flight would play the next day from the blue tees, and the other flights from the whites. But the first day’s score would count in the cumulative score for all flights. Most of the sandbagging went on in the first flight because guys who couldn’t win the championship flight would shoot 79 or 80 to “just miss the championship cut” and lead the first flight, and then shoot 75 or 76 the second day to win that flight. I’d just ignore those folks and would always try for the championship flight. Just thinking in a sandbagging mindset is enough to district your game.

        Think gross score!


        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. I would add that even the process of getting a handicap has flaws. The second question I get asked after what my handicap is is does it include more than just a couple of courses. Creating a handicap but only playing your home course will make your handicap index lower than it truly should be because you are so intimately familiar with the course. Handicapping does take course difficulty into consideration, but not so much familiarity.

    And even course difficulty isn’t handled really well in the handicapping system I don’t think. Slope and rating make a difference, but I’m not so sure they make “enough” difference. But as you said, it is a way to judge yourself against others. Just don’t judge yourself too hard or think too well of yourself without realizing all the parameters of how your handicap is created.

    Also, since I get the chance to play a couple of the same courses played on the tour on occasion, I can tell you that playing from the pro tees on those courses more than once in any ten rounds will raise your handicap faster than NASA launches a rocket. And there are a couple of courses around here I’ve played often enough over the years that if I went to them all the time, I could lower my handicap from the current 7.4 to a 4 without trouble. They set up well for me, I know them really well, have more than a few of my best games there, and the greens are relatively slow and not especially difficult.

    So in my opinion and experience, even the handicapping system is not a true way to compare against others unless you can look over what courses were played and tee boxes used too. It’s just a gauge against yourself that has flaws you need to be aware of. I’ve been thinking of not bothering recording any more scores. I think I can do a better job of tracking myself with just a spreadsheet that just tracks mistakes (by type and club) and counts putts. I think that might help me better recognize the things that need the most work better than what any of the handicap systems I’ve seen on websites. And since I don’t play in tournaments, having a handicap really doesn’t matter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kevin

      As usual, all great points. I agree that playing the same course all the time will produce a lower score…..most of the time. It is very challenging to devise a system to balance the playing field and the handicap system is what we have. Unfortunately, it is flawed because I can put whatever score I want in the system. Finally, I agree that avid players like use can do a better job tracking where improvement is needed, but I am not so sure that is what the handicap system is for; it is so that two 4 handicap players (or any like handicaps) can compete at the same level. So many variables that I am not sure there is a correct answer.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

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