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Second Adjustment to Handicaps for players playing different tees


Why do we make a second adjustment to handicaps when players are playing from different tees?
1. The USGA Policy paper (see below) on handicap adjustments, part of the USGA rules under which the Landings Club operates, explains why a second handicap adjustment is not only warranted but required for equitable play.  Note these are USGA rules, not a Landings local rule.
While this may not have been a concern at your previous course or club, this is necessary at the Landings.  Most clubs do not have as many tees rated for USGA play as we do (total of nine), so most clubs don't deal with the situation of having a single group play from 4 or more tee boxes. LMGA almost always has play from 4 tee boxes and sometimes more in a single game. Our Course Ratings between the medal/course-named combo tees and tournament tees can differ by as much as 5 or 6 strokes.  Without the adjustment, two players could shoot to their handicap and the player teeing off from the higher rated tee box would lose a net game by those 5 or 6 strokes.
The course handicap is calculated based on the golfer's net score matching a scratch golfer's score equal to the Course Rating. For example, the Course Ratings at the Marshwood course are 68 from the Medal tees and 70 from the Club tees. In this case, the second adjustment of -2 to the golfer playing from the Medal tees is the equalizer; both players playing to their handicap would shoot a net 70.
A common argument is that handicaps are established from a certain tee and that should be sufficient.  This is incorrect on two fronts: 
  • handicaps are relative to a course rating and slope, a player establishes an INDEX which is then used to compute a course handicap.
  • the handicap would be equal and require no adjustment if all players were playing from the same tee box - if not, then the adjustment is required in a sense of fairness and under USGA rules to level the competition from different tee boxes.
2.  Here's how it works:
Assume for these purposes that the Club tees are the base tees.  A player takes their course handicap for the tee box of their choice, AND THEN adjusts up or down based on the Course Rating related to that tee choice.
The attached chart, prepared by the Landings Club Tournament Officials, provides a quick reference for each course.  Note that there are some variations between courses and that the Club Tees are the base on this chart, which is what we use for LMGA play.  If another tee box will be used as the base, adjust accordingly, however the difference between tees remains the same.