The dreaded "R" on your handicap index
Posted on Feb 09, 2015 04:14 PM

by filgolfer

Its the 28th of the month!. 'Tis the day your new UNHS handicap index has been processed. You grab your phone and type on your browser to check on your new index. You expect your handicap index to increase a little because you are not playing well these past few days. You searched for your UNHS account and when your index is displayed, you realize your index has fallen a few strokes!.

You quickly suspect that there must be a mistake in the encoding of your scores. You quickly logged in to your UNHS account and checked your handicap computation. You checked that all the scores are correct, nothing out of the ordinary. Then you see something at the end of the computation- 'Adjustment for exceptional tournament scores'. Then you notice there is an "R" besides your index.

The dreaded "R"

Section 10-3 (Reduction of Handicap Index Based on Exceptional Tournament Scores) of the USGA Handicap Manual states that a player's Handicap Index may be reduced when a player has a minimum of two eligible tournament score differentials that are at least 3.0 better than the player's Handicap Index.

So how does this work?. All of your Tournament scores from the last 12 months and in your last 20 game history are sorted. From this, the Tournament score with the second lowest handicap differential is subtracted to your new handicap index. If the result is 3 or greater, you will be checked for handicap reduction.

Why reduce handicaps?

Handicap Indexes are used to create a level playing field between players of different skill ranges. They measure a golfer's scoring potential. But sometimes it is used as leverage by dishonest people, otherwise known as "sandbaggers".

These sandbaggers would purposely play bad games to increase their index and win tournaments.

Does this mean I am a sandbagger?

Having an R does not automatically mean you are a sandbagger. This just means that you are capable of shooting low scores and your handicap index has been adjusted to reflect your capability.

What are my options?

You can continue playing using your index and play better games to decrease the difference between your handicap index and your tournament score, and hereby removing the R. If you feel that you do not deserve the reduction, you can contact your home club's handicap commitee so that they can review your case. If they confirm that you have a valid reason like injury, they can override the reduction.

For more info on handicap reduction, go to


Copyright 2014