Editors' BlogMay 20, 2008

What is a 10 Handicapper?

__When the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge is played at Torrey Pines on the eve of the U.S. Open, we'll see a test that is perfect in scale. A 10-handicapper trying to break 100 at Torrey, in front of a gallery, national TV audience and three celebrities playing alongside him, would experience a challenge in any case. But with the course in murderously difficult condition, it will be the golf equivalent of climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. Guy Yocom

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Steve Stuthard of Kingman, AZ, writes with a question about Guy Yocom's "What is a 10 Handicapper?" story done in conjunction with the U.S. Open Contest.

Terrific article, but I must admit it made me question my golf-manhood. Mr. Yocom states that "The national handicap index for men is 14.7". I vary between a 14 and 17 depending upon the season and conditions. I have often read in your magazine and others that the average recreational male golfer shoots between 95 and 100 which certainly does not equate to a 14.7. My own experience also tells me most of the people I play with (or get paired with) are significantly higher than a 14.

How did Mr. Yocom get his numbers? I'm thinking I and all the people I have played with might be better suited for Tennis!>

Steve, there are a lot of us better suited to tennis (or pinochle, for that matter.) But to answer your questions: The numbers Guy relied on come from the USGA's handicap guru, Kevin O'Connor. Golf Digest's consulatant on handicapping, Dean Knuth, has this comment:

I think that Steve is comparing apples and oranges. Yes, the average USGA Handicap Index in America is around 15.0, but golfers with USGA Handicap Indexes represent a minority of all golfers, because the majority don't have an official handicap. The average score of golfers without USGA Handicaps is over 100. The 15.0 on average would translate to a 17 Course Handicap, the average USGA Course Rating being about 70. Golfers average three strokes over their handicaps, so the average score of such golfers is 90 (17 plus 70 plus 3). But again, if we're talking about all golfers--those with handicaps and those without--the average score would be more than 100.

--Bob Carney

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