The Alphabet Soup

From the August issue of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine.


Just when you think you’ve got the Handicap System figured out, a letter appears next to your Handicap Index in your latest revision.

What happened ?

Sometimes these letters are a function of an action taken by the club, other times they are a function of the Handicap System or the GHIN service.

The letters:

L      Local handicap, which represents a value above maximum Handicap Index limit (36.4 for men, 40.4 for women) or a handicap based on a temporary disability.

M      Modified Handicap Index. Normally, this is an action taken by the club Handicap Committee in its responsibility to make sure that the Handicap Index issued by the club is the best representation of a player’s potential ability. This can also reflect a golfer who didn’t have a Handicap Index as of the most recent revision, but was reactivated into the same club where that golfer did have one previously. This reactivation is more of a housekeeping/awareness function and happens frequently during the early part of the year after clubs have inactivated many members while waiting for payment of dues for the upcoming year.

R      Reduced for Exceptional Tournament Performance, an automatic function of the USGA Handicap System™. The general gist is that a golfer has shown much better potential at least twice in scores identified as “Tournaments” vs. the normally calculated value of the Handicap Index®. Note: this R identification can appear or disappear from revision to revision, based on the age of eligible tournament scores, the number of eligible tournament scores,
and the spread between the normal Handicap Index calculation and the average of the two best tournament score differentials. Also note that this R identification does not stand for restricted.

WD      A Handicap Index withdrawn by the Handicap Committee. This rarely happens, yet is available to a committee when a player repeatedly fails to meet the player responsibilities under the USGA Handicap System.

In addition, you are likely to see various letters associated with your scoring record. These letters represent the score type associated with each score. The lineup:

A      Away (for affiliate and eClub members, there usually isn’t a home course, so essentially everything is away); for members connected to a physical course when playing elsewhere.

C      Combined Nines (two nine-hole scores combined into a single 18-hole score).

H      Home (self-explanatory).

I      Internet (a score posted other than at a golf course computer, including your golf association’s website,, your home PC, and the mobile app).

P      Penalty (clubs can issue a penalty score to their members equal to the lowest/highest differential in a player’s scoring record for failure to post an acceptable score).

T      Tournament (a score designated by the committee in charge of a competition) that would then be eligible to be used in the Section 10-3 calculation for Reduction for Exceptional Tournament Performance.

Thanks to Kevin O’Connor, SCGA Managing Director, Member Services