Is A Climbing Golf Index A Cause For Concern?

For any golfer who has an official handicap index, they watch the sliding number as they navigate the ups and downs of their golf season. The challenge with players in northern climes, like myself, the roller coaster ride of index changes is a yearly evet that is unavoidable and somewhat frustrating. The real question for the players who have a shortened season is when do we take note of our rising handicap and take steps to address potential issues that might have long term adverse affects.

In my particular case, my handicap index just rose to 5.2 from 3.4 at the beginning of the year. This is a significant jump as I have not replaced the great scores from last fall with new ones this year. My game is not as sharp as it should be for this time of year because our season never really started until a month ago. COVID caused an additional six week lockdown on top of the 6 months we endured under a blanket of white (that would be snow for your southerners 😉 ) Additionally, all the practice areas were closed and my DIY areas were okay, but does not really provide the facilities where I can sharpen my game.

Additionally, yesterday I replaced my under par round of 70 with a 78 thus causing my handicap index to jump up significantly. At first glance, many players would immediately wonder what the heck is going on with their golf game. In my particular case, take a calming breath because this snakes and ladder movement of my handicap index is a yearly thing and right now is not the time to panic.

Unlike my friends Brian, Kevin and Mike, their season is not what I would consider short. They can golf all year around, however Brian will have to dress very warm for a few months during December and January. They are fortunate to have a full season and as such do not see the dramatic changes in their index that I experience. If they do, then they definitely would be performing a more intense analysis of their game.

To answer my original question, there are times when our changing handicap index act as an indicator for potential swing issues. In my case, however, I have to extend that time to allow me to hone my game to a point where I should see my handicap start to drop. Usually, this time is the end of June, however this year I will need to extend this time until the second or third week in July. At that time, I should start populating my index with mid to low 70 scores. As always, I have a goal to finish my season with a handicap under 3. Unfortunately, the past couple of years has made that very difficult because of the extremely shortened golf season. Regardless, I will continue my journey to better golf scores by staying focused on the positive aspects of my game, honing my skills, and being grateful that I am playing golf.

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


6 thoughts on “Is A Climbing Golf Index A Cause For Concern?

  1. I like the points that Kevin makes, especially when it comes to the mix of home and away games. I play a lot of golf on other courses, most of which are courses with a high slope. They are enjoyable to play but scoring well is tough.

    Other significant factors are weather and of course the forced layoff you and I both had.

    Over the last 15 years, my index has risen from high single digits to the 10-11 range. The reason is largely due to the effects of aging. I am now 67, 5 ft 9 inches tall and have a bad right knee. Although fit for my age, I’m not what I was. I don’t hit the ball as far and I have learned that trying to hit it further is not a good idea, it is better keeping the ball in the fairway and reduces the chance of injury. Even though my index has risen, I believe I am a better golfer as my short game is improved.

    Personally, I don’t think the index is the holy grail for evaluating myself, too many variables. I usually know when something in my game gets a little shaky and give it extra attention.

    In summary, don’t sweat over the index, have fun, play golf. It is now time for me to get my 1927 era MacGregors prepared for battle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, Covid has this all screwed up for you. Essentially, the slow start and restart is your extended spring training. Your approach to keep working your fundamentals and getting more reps is good. Forget your index for now and just be thankful you are playing. It will all work out and be a distant memory this time next year.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      Exactly! I mentioned my handicap index in this article because some players are wrapped around the number without context. The index is a benchmark, but unless we are playing in tournaments, it really is not that important the average player. You are right about the distant memory, I bet by August we will be back to normalish and most challenges will be forgotten.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I still don’t like how indexes are created. There is a huge hole in the system that you and I take big advantage of as far as keeping our indexes low and that’s course knowledge. The higher the percentage of away rounds in the last twenty played will make a big difference in your handicap index. You should get the lowest index by playing all twenty rounds at home and the highest by playing all twenty rounds on courses you aren’t familiar with. I may have ten courses in the area I could classify as “home” since I’ve played them so often over the years. But that leaves over 90 within an hours drive that need an “away” classification. I’m not sure how to fairly add that to the calculations, but I think that would plug the hole so to speak if they could manage it.

    In a tournament, anyone who’s index includes many away games is going to have an advantage over the guy who played all his games at the home course. One index is artificially higher or lower than the other depending on how you look at it. And that difference can be significant.

    Ok, Rant over. As to your question, for the reason above, weather, etc, an index that’s gone up isn’t necessarily cause for concern. It’s the reason it’s gone up that matters. Are you making mistakes you don’t normally make, or are you slowing down with age and hitting bigger clubs into the green than you used to, or have you just played more away games than normal for you? It’s the reason it matters. The number is only good when looked at in proper perspective. Changes can indicate trouble, it can indicate we’re getter better, or they could indicate nothing at all except bad weather or a change in how many games you played away.

    Maybe the best option is the break the index into three areas. A home index, an away index, and a combined index. It’s more complex, but the computer does the work for us. All we’d need do is identify the score we’re posting as home or away. When I get enough away courses listed in the spreadsheet I’m using to calculate my index, I think I’ll try just that and see what I get. I’ll make a couple of copies and list only home and only away on the other two to see the range my index takes on. It’ll probably take a while to get there with the away courses since I generally do that just once a week, but in a few weeks I think I’ll have the minimum needed to get a first look.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      That is quite a diatribe on the handicap index. I agree that depending on where you consistently play will make a difference in our handicaps. Given the fact that I play most of my games on one course, my handicap might be a bit askew. As for as what is happening right now, knocking off the rust is really what is happening. It takes time and then one day the switch will turn and I will be scoring the way I expect. I figure a couple of more weeks. My game has not changed, just lack of playing.

      Cheers Jim


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