Stay the course to figure out handicap

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:43 AM ET

There are few questions with more varied answers in golf than, "What's your handicap?"

The answers can include:

- "My swing."

- "My clubs."

- "My gut."

- "You first."

- "Well, I was a 15, but I hurt my back, so I think I should be an 18 now."

- "I don't know, but I usually shoot around 90. That makes me about a 20, right?"

The fact is there is only one correct answer. Most club players know their handicap index, but are probably sketchy on exactly how it is derived. Simply put -- which is hard to do when it comes to handicap talk -- it is the average of your 10 lowest differentials (the difference between your gross score and the course rating, NOT PAR) in your last 20 games.

That average is your handicap index.

Your handicap is not -- as some people believe -- an indication of your average score.

Since your 10 worst of your last 20 scores are thrown out, your handicap index is an indication of your potential when you are playing your best golf.

According to the U.S. Golf Association, you play to your handicap only once every four or five rounds.

If you want to figure out if you've played to your handicap, your "target score," according to "Inside the USGA," is determined this way: You use your handicap index to determine your course handicap (from the conversion chart in the pro shop, locker room or starter's shack). Add your course handicap to the course rating and you've got your target score.

For example, a player with an index of 16.3 decides to play a course with a rating of 68.9 and a slope rating of 129. A 16.3 index becomes a course handicap of 19 using the conversion charts.

The player adds 19 to 68.9 for a rounded total of 88.

Got that?

HEAR AND THERE: Rivermead's Bob Fugere couldn't stop the express that is Andre Gagne of Royal Quebec at Quebec Golf's Boutique Progolf Match Play Championship at Summerlea. Gagne won his third-straight seniors title, defeating Fugere 3-and-2. Gagne also derailed Mike Kelly of Vieux Moulins 5-and-4 in the semi-final. Renaud Langevin of Beauce won the regular draw over Jean-Francois Angrignon of Summerlea 4-and-2 ... Many of those same golfers will be back at it this week at Quebec Golf's Mid-Amateur championship Wednesday through Friday at Whitlock ... Speaking of the mid-ams, Ian Johnson of the Oaks of Cobden needed two extra holes to win the OVGA Investor's Group Mid-Amateur title at Outaouais on Monday. Johnson defeated Jean Gaulin of Champlain after both players tied at 1-over 73 for the regulation 18 holes. They were two shots better than Chris Pilon of Greensmere and defending champ Tom Hossfeld of Rivermead. Rounding out the top 10 were Ken Lafreniere of Rivermead, John Taylor of Upper Canada, Alain Brunet of Camelot and Perry Freda of Glen Mar, all at 75, and Scott Ray of Camelot, John Hunt of Kanata and Barry Nesrallah of Rivermead at 76.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Local players have put themselves in good position to qualify for the Canadian Junior Golf Association's Team Canada, which will compete in the World Junior Euro Cup and the CJGA's Scotland Tour to St. Andrews. Patrick Sears, 17, of Kanata, Ryan Sevigny, 16, of Stittsville and Brittany Henderson, 14, of Smiths Falls, are all in good shape after winning qualifiers. Henderson is undefeated in Quebec this year ... Ottawa's Wendell Touhey came up just a little short at a CJGA Junior Worlds qualifier in Montreal. Touhey finished with a 71 for a 147 total, but couldn't catch Tarn MacArthur of Montreal (70-70-140) in the boys' 19-year-old division. Sears (146) finished second and Sevigny (151) was third in their division behind Tim Lew of Courtice (141).

TAP-INS: Manotick's Brad Fritsch lost in a playoff at the third event on the Eastern Links mini-tour stop at Eagle Creek. Fritsch and Montreal's Craig Matthew tied after 18 holes with 1-under 71s. Matthew won $1,000 and Fritsch $800. The tour's next stop is Tuesday at The Falcon, the Graham Cooke-designed club which has gotten good reviews, in Hudson, Que. ... Local juniors will have their first field day today at Mont Ste. Marie ... The OVGA will host the B Class Field Day on Monday at Vieux Moulins.

FROM THE FRINGE: Ottawa's Ashley Bickerton missed qualifying for match play at the Ladies British Open Amateur after rounds of 89 and 76 in the medal qualifying rounds at Littlestone Golf Club in Kent, England.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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