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Myths surround hole handicapping
Golf rules
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: Mark and Bob have just finished playing their home course. Mark says that he does not believe that their course scorecard has the holes handicapped correct. He says that the fourth hole is shown as the No. 1 handicap hole and therefore should be the hardest to play. However, he believes that there are several holes that are harder to play, especially the 17th. Bob agrees. Are Mark and Bob confused about how holes are handicapped?

Answer: Mark and Bob are like most golfers. They believe that the hole handicaps shown on a course scorecard reflect how hard or how easy a hole is to play (1 being the hardest and 18 being the easiest). This is a common myth. The handicaps assigned to each hole are based on what works best for golfers with different handicaps playing against each other in a match. For example, when a 5 handicap plays a 7 handicap, the two holes that the 7 handicap would get a stroke should be the holes where he would most likely need a stroke to halve the hole. This does not always work, but it is the intent of the hole handicap system.

Before you get into a debate on this myth, I recommend reading the USGA handicap system reference guide.

Great news: Sapelo Hammock Golf course in Shellman’s Bluff is being purchased by a group of people in the community. The group’s intent is to restore the coastal treasure to its original beauty and charm. The details will be finalized soon and updates will be provided on a regular basis. Stay tuned and get ready to visit Sapelo Hammock.

As always, have fun playing and practicing the game of golf. E-mail me at with questions or suggestions.

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

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