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Why is there an ‘R’ next to my Handicap Index???

The “R” next to your Handicap Index stands for reduction. It is not a restriction, and it is not permanent.

Most people coming into the new golf season are a little bit rusty unless you had the comfort of playing down South during the winter. With that rust usually comes higher scores before rounding into mid-season form. This can create a situation for some golfers where the “R” will suddenly appear next to their Handicap Index causing instant alarm. Please do not be scared as this is an automatic function of the USGA Handicap System simply being put into action based on certain circumstances.

In this situation, your Handicap Index is being reduced because you are currently playing at a level not near the potential you have shown in the last year compared to your Tournament Scores. Section 10-3 of the USGA Handicap System was put in place as a safeguard to modify an index if someone shoots casual rounds (Home/Away Scores) well above the potential that has been set when playing in a tournament environment.

Remember, the USGA Handicap System evaluates a player based on their potential, and not on averages. If you establish a potential in the system and suddenly start playing outside of that normal range, the system will take over to normalize your Handicap Index.

Please do not take this as a bad thing. It just means you are not playing your best golf right now. That is why this situation comes up the most during the beginning of each golf season.

One of two things will happen over time that will help reduce or eliminate the R from your record. 1. You start playing better. This means you are playing closer to the potential you set and ultimately help the “R” go away; or 2: The good Tournament Scores set on your record will fall off this calculation after one year of the date played, ultimately changing the equation used in 10-3.

Remember, the “R” is a safeguard against fabulous playing during a Tournament and not representing it in casual play. The system must equalize-out that potential to create a level playing field for everyone. Even though you are rusty at the beginning of the season, you will work back into mid-season form in no time.

If you feel the “R” does not reflect your true playing potential, you always have the right to petition your Club’s Handicap Committee for a modification or outright removal of the “R”. If your club has any questions regarding 10-3 of the USGA Handicap System, please give the WSGA Handicap Department a call or email.

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