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ESC can be tricky to apply
Rules of Golf
Graham Lewis - photo by Photo provided.

Golf is fun, whether playing solo or with others. Having a basic understanding of the game’s rules makes it easier to enjoy the experience and improve your skills. In this periodic column, I provide brief explanations of golf rules and answer commonly asked questions.

Question: After completing her round of golf, Dana was preparing to post her score for handicap purposes. Janet walked by and said, "Don’t forget to use your ESC. You had high scores on several holes that need to be adjusted." Dana replied, "What is ESC?"

Answer: Equitable stroke control keeps an exceptionally bad hole from changing a handicap index too much and sets a maximum ESC number that a player can post on any hole depending on that player’s course handicap.

Many of us get confused on how to apply ESC when playing a round of golf. For handicap purposes, after a round, a player is required to adjust hole scores (actual or most likely) when these hole scores are higher than the maximum ESC number. Remember, the key is to adjust your score after the round. This means that if you finish a hole you should put down the actual score for that hole. If you pick up before holing out, you should put down the score for that hole that you would most likely have had if you would have holed out. Use your best judgment.

After your round is complete, you should check each hole to see if your score for that hole exceeds the maximum you are allowed under ESC. If it does, then you adjust your score. What is allowed under ESC? If your course handicap is 9 or less the most you can post for handicap purposes is a double bogey. 10-19 =7; 20-29=8; 30-39=9; 40 or more= 0.

As always, have fun playing and practicing. E-mail me at with any questions or suggestions.

Lewis is a certified teaching professional and a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation.

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