Golf Handicaps Quick Reference 

The following quick reference has been assembled from various articles and communications from the Handicap Committee to highlight a short list of things you should know. It is not all inclusive. The Learn More section identifies more detailed references available.

• What is a golf handicap and why do I need one?
• About the Handicap System at Berry Creek 
• How to establish a new golf handicap
• Selecting a 9 hole or 18 hole handicap 
• How and where to post scores
• What scores should be posted?
• Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) -- What is it?
• Holes Not Played or Not Played According to the Rules of Golf
• Unfinished Holes or Conceded Strokes
• Check List for Posting Scores
• Tournament Scores
• Learn More

What is a golf handicap and why do I need one?

• It’s a number applied to your golf score so players of differing abilities can compete on an equitable basis. 
• It makes golf more enjoyable when we can play with better golfers and still have a chance to win. Handicaps provide a way to level the playing field when you have players of differing golf abilities, making it more fun for everyone.
• It’s just part of playing the game. Handicaps are required for most golf events at Berry Creek as well as events at other clubs.
• It takes into account the difficulty of the courses and tees you play so you can compete fairly with other golfers on any course in the US that uses the USGA Handicap System. 


About the Handicap System at Berry Creek

As a member club of the Texas Golf Association, Berry Creek uses the USGA Handicap System. A national computation system called GHIN (Golf Handicap Information Network) is used for tracking member handicaps. Just ask a Pro Shop staff person to register you in the GHIN system. There is an annual fee for the handicap service. The Pro Shop can advise you how much this will be. 

In March 2007, the GHIN system may be accessed from computers installed in both the Men’s and Women’s locker rooms. Instructions are displayed nearby. If you need assistance, visit with a Pro Shop staff person. Additionally, the GHIN system may be accessed via the Internet at 

Revised handicaps are issued on a pre set schedule established by the USGA for Texas. The schedule may be located from the GHIN web site. Following each revision date, you may obtain a printed card with your updated Handicap Index from the Pro Shop. Or, by registering your email ID on the GHIN web site, you can receive automatic email notification and online retrieval of your revised handicap index. An image of your handicap card may be printed from this web site and used for verification purposes.

How to transfer a golf handicap from another club

If you have an established handicap from another club, provide your current scoring record when you register for the GHIN system in the Pro Shop. 

You will need from your previous club:

• Your last 20 scores with dates
• Eligible tournament scores and dates
• The USGA course rating and slope for each score

These become part of your scoring record and you will receive your new handicap at the next revision. 

How to establish a new golf handicap

Ask the Pro Shop to register you in the GHIN system we use to track member handicaps. Simply play and post five scores and you will receive a handicap when revised indexes are published at the next revision date.

If you would like to participate in a Berry Creek event, but have not yet received your handicap index, please ask the event coordinator if you may participate with a temporary handicap. The Pro Shop can then provide an interim handicap based on the five or more scores you have posted in GHIN.

Selecting a 9 hole or 18 hole Handicap Index

You may request a Handicap Index for either 18 holes or 9 holes. There is no need for both, choose which you play most. For competitions requiring a Handicap Index, a 9 hole Handicap Index is doubled for 18 hole play and an 18 hole Handicap Index is halved and rounded to the nearest tenth for 9 hole play.

If you have an 18 hole index, you must still post 9 hole rounds whenever you play 7-12 holes. The computer system automatically combines 9 hole rounds for your 18 hole scoring record.

If you have a 9 hole index and play an 18 hole round, post your scores for each nine individually.

How and where to post scores

For fairness, it is most important your handicap accurately reflects your current level of play. It will when you 
• Post every acceptable score whether you play at home or away at another course
• Enter the scoring information accurately, right after you play

To make it easy and convenient for you, computer terminals are available in the Men’s and Women’s locker rooms (beginning in March 2007) where you or a member of your group can post scores. You may also post your score using Internet access to GHIN at .

When using the computers at Berry Creek, the system will automatically
• adjust your scores for Equitable Stoke Control when you enter the round hole by hole,
• add up the score for the round (eliminating math errors), and 
• supply the proper course ratings when you select the tees and number of holes you played.

When entering a score via the Internet, you will need to manually adjust your scores for ESC and supply the appropriate course rating and slope information for the course you played. The easiest way to find this information is to refer to a score card saved from this round.


What scores should be posted?

Acceptable scores - In short, whenever you play a round you should post your score.

• All scores at home including after hours and Monday play
• All scores at away courses during their active seasons
• When 13 or more holes are played, post an 18 hole score. When 7-12 holes are played, post a 9 hole score. The computer system automatically tracks and combines nine hole scores to create an 18 hole round for your scoring record.
• Scores made under the Rules of Golf
• All competitions, including many team play and multi-ball formats. Even if you’ve been disqualified from the competition, but your score is still acceptable, you should post it.

Unacceptable scores

• Fewer than 7 holes
• Majority of holes are not played under the Rules of Golf
• Condition of the competition requires fewer than 14 clubs (e.g. irons only)
• When a player carries non-conforming clubs, uses non-conforming balls or tees, uses artificial devices during the execution of a stroke
• Courses during inactive seasons, courses without USGA ratings
• When the length of the course is less than 3,000 yards for 18 holes or less than 1,500 yards for nine holes

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) 
ESC sets a maximum number of strokes you can post for handicap purposes on any given hole:

9 Hole Course Handicap
Maximum on any hole
18 Hole  Course Handicap
4 or less
Double Bogey
9 or less
5 through 9
10 through 19
10 through 14
20 through 29
15 through 19
30 through 39
20 or more
40 or more

Holes Not Played or Not Played under the Rules of Golf

If you do not play a hole or if you play it other than under the Rules of Golf, your score for that hole for handicap purposes is par plus any handicap strokes you are entitled to receive on the hole.

Unfinished Holes or Conceded Strokes

If you start, but don’t complete a hole or are conceded a stroke, for handicap purposes record the score you most likely would have made.


The most likely score consists of 
• the number of strokes already taken, plus
• in your best judgment, the number of strokes it would have taken to complete the hole from that position more than half the time.
• The number may not exceed your ESC limit.

Check List for Posting Scores

• Member name or number
• Date the round was played (not the date you enter the score)
• Course rating and slope for the tees you played. Save your scorecard from away rounds or do a course lookup from GHIN. Our home system will apply the proper ratings when you select the tees you played at Berry Creek.
• Your adjusted gross score…no holes exceed your ESC. Our home computer system automatically makes this adjustment for you as you enter you score hole by hole.
• Post your score promptly….within 72 hours. Note tournament scores (T), away scores (A) and when posting via the Internet (I).

Tournament Scores

The USGA provides guidelines for competitions designated as “tournament scores”. The Handicap Committee, in consultation with the committees organizing competitions, determines in advance which competitions meet the guidelines. Scores from these competitions must be identified by the letter “T” when posted.

A player’s Tournament scores are counted by the GHIN system on a revolving 12 month basis. When a player has a minimum of two eligible tournament score differentials that are at least 3.0 better than the player’s Handicap Index, the GHIN system will reduce the player’s Index. An Index that has been reduced because of Tournament Scores is identified with the letter “R”.

At Berry Creek, the following competitions are eligible for Tournament Scores:
• The MGA designates all scores (weekly or monthly) that are eligible for prizes as Tournament scores. 
• The LGA has designated certain monthly tournaments as Tournament scores. These Tournaments are noted in the LGA Directory distributed at the start of each season.

Learn more about handicaps

• - Select the section for Handicaps. Lots of information, including an online tutorial.
• The USGA Handicap System publication is available for reference in our Pro Shop and may be purchased online from the USGA web site. Handicap Committee members also have copies.