What is Equitable Stroke Control?

The information from this section is from the NCGA website.

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) is a procedure whereby abnormally high individual hole scores are adjusted downward prior to the score being posted. ESC sets a maximum number that a golfer can post on any hole, depending on the golfer's Course Handicap (not his Handicap Index). Effective Feb. 1, 1998, individual hole scores will be adjusted for handicap purposes per the following table:


Course Handicap
Maximum Number
on Any Hole
9 or less Double bogey
10 through 19 7
20 through 29 8
30 through 39 9
40 or more 10

How does ESC apply to me?

You are required to post all the scores you shoot under the Rules of Golf. This applies to tournament rounds and non-tournament rounds. ESC means that you do not necessarily post the same gross score total that you shoot. Handicaps are supposed to show your scoring potential. If you have one or more holes where you blew up, ESC tries to mitigate the effects of those bad holes. For example, let's say you shot a gross score of 86 on a course where you have a course handicap of 18. Let's assume that on one hole, you shot a 9. Because of ESC, you change that 9 to a 7 for posting purposes, changing your 86 to an 84. You then post that 84.

Beware the Course Handicap!

Note that ESC is based on the course handicap and not your handicap index. There is an important distinction between the two.

Let's say you have a handicap index of 18.7. On one particular day, you are playing from a set of tees at a course that has a slope rating of 115. Your course handicap on that set of tees is:

    (18.7 * 115) / 113 = 19 (always rounded to the nearest whole number)

113 is a constant that never changes. On that day, your course handicap is 19. Therefore, ESC says that your maximum number of strokes on any one hole is 7.

Now let's say you play the next day on a slightly more difficult course that has a slope of 119 from the tees you are playing. Your course handicap would be:

    (18.7 * 119) / 113 = 19.7 = 20

So, your course handicap is now 20, which means your maximum number of strokes on any one hole is 8 rather than 7.

Keep this in mind if your handicap index may be anywhere near the boundaries between two different ESC ranges.

The course where you are playing should always have posted somewhere a table that will give you the course handicap given your current handicap index. However, using the formula described above will always work:

    Course Handicap = (Index * Slope) / 113 rounded to nearest integer

Will all this be handled automatically in SMGC tournaments?

Traditionally at SMGC tournaments, there is a posting sheet where all participants are supposed to calculate their adjusted scores (their gross scores after making any ESC adjustments) and write them on the sheet. Today, with computerized systems, it is possible that there will not be a posting sheet as the computer will calculate the ESC adjusted score automatically. If this is so, the tournament director will be able to tell you your adjusted score if it is different from your gross score. Regardless, it is always a good idea to know how to calculate it for those cases where the computer is not around.

As always, if you have any questions about what your posted score should be, or what the process is, ask the tournament director or anybody else on the SMGC Board of Directors.

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