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Pope Of Slope

USGA formulas help the handicappers: Part I


By Charley Stine

Some things I learned recently from a video of a U.S. Golf Association handicapping seminar:

In a four-ball (best-ball) match with full handicap. there is a statistical advantage in having a partner whose handicap is either a lot higher or a lot lower than yours. It also helps, says USGA director of handicapping Dean Knuth, to check the last 20 scores on the handicap cards. You want the partner with the widest disparity of scores.

Most people play such a match with full handicaps, but the equitable procedure is to allow only 90 percent of handicaps. And if there is an eight-shot or more difference between members of one team, it is equitable to cut them another 10 percent.

Knuth's formula for handicapping a scramble: Take 20 percent of the A player's handicap, 15 percent of B, 10 percent of C, and l percent of D, and add them together, However, it is possible to come out with a number higher than the A player's handicap alone. Provisions are needed to ensure that scramble handicaps are at least one stroke less than the best player's.

Everybody has heard that the median slope rating is 113, but what does 113 mean? It means, statistically, that for every stroke handicaps increase, scores go up 1.13 shots, Your index represents all your scores adjusted as if all the rounds had been played at a course with 113 slope.

USGA Course Ratings are the summation of Yardage Rating, Obstacle Rating, and something called Effective Length Correction(wind, roll, elevation).

By USGA pace-of-play studies, keeping carts on the path adds 13 percent to the time needed to play a round of golf. At a four-hour pace, that's 31 more minutes. The same studies found that pace of play in the first five holes of a round dictates the group's pace for the day, Knuth's interpretation is that players get into a rhythm, either slow or fast, and tend to maintain it,

Finally, here's the formula used to compute your handicap index. First apply equitable stroke control to your across score. Subtract the ratings of the course played, Multiply by 113. Divide by slope rating of course played. That gives a handicap differential for the round. Average the lowest 10 handicap differentials of the last 20 scores. Multiply by 0.96. Delete all numbers after the 10ths digit.

While in Las Vegas for the PGA International Golf Show, I discovered that the Indians are takings over more than the American League. The best new course I've seen for a long time and one with bright prospects is on a Paiute reservation just north of Las Vegas.

It's called Nu-Wav Kaiv (pronounced new-wa-kive) and is the first of a four-course complex that will be the biggest in Las Vegas. The Paiutes have committed $40 million for a clubhouse, and four courses. They've hired Pete Dye to design them all and the Landmark Golf Co. to manage them.

Nu-Wav Kaiv opened last March. The second course, now under construction, will open in September 1996. followed by another course in each of the two succeeding years. Also on the property will be two hotels with Casinos, and other types of resort loging.

Vegas' largest golf complex is Angel Park, which has two 18-hole regulation courses by the Arnold Palmer company, a nine-hole lighted par-three course and a unique 18-hole putting course. The latter two courses, along with the driving range, keep the Angel Park golf shop busy until near midnight daily. The putting course is so good that it commands $8 green fees, perhaps the best return per acre in the industry.

The Tradition Club, a new golf course at Pawley's Island, S.C., south of Myrtle Beach, is now open. That's the course for which architect Ron Garl designed ladies tees according to women's responses last year to questions in this GOLFWEEK column.

More than 400 women from 39 states reported how far they hit drives and various other clubs. The results indicated that women need three different tee positions from which to choose, just like men. So Garl built women's tees at the Traditional Club at 5,923 yards (for 0-15 handicap); 5,11l yards (16-29 handicap); and 4,148 yards for 29 and above. The USGA's handicap records show 29 as the median women's handicap.

The National Golf Foundation says golfers spent $16.3 billion last year on playing fees and equipment. But how much was spent for golf-related travel, at golf resorts/hotels, at golf school and for lessons, for tournament admissions, subscriptions to golf publications, etc.? Knowing these hobby-related expenditures by golfers would help the industry when it deals with government, particularly tourism and taxing offices.

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